July 17, 2008

Eight Months To Midnight

The clock is officially ticking.

It took 22 years for the seminal graphic novel "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" to give birth to a movie version of the Caped Crusader that truly matched its sensibilities both in tone and substance, namely Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight".

Although, to be fair, "The Dark Knight"'s actual literary reference points are "Batman: The Killing Joke" and "Batman: The Long Halloween", featuring The Joker and Two-Face, respectively, but "The Dark Knight Returns" really reshaped the character into something much more rich and essential.

Three months after the last issue of "The Dark Knight Returns" shipped to comic stores, a comic with a blood-stained smiley face on the cover appeared on the newsstands that asked a very simple question:

How would the world that we know actually have changed if a man gained superhuman powers and declared himself our protector?

That was the beginning of "Watchmen", by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. And what Frank Miller did for Batman in "The Dark Knight Returns", Moore & Gibbons did for the entire genre of superheroes.

So, now that this is the year that the superhero movie has finally arrived (thank you Iron Man, Hulk, Hellboy, and Batman), it's only fitting that the story that dismantled superheroes should follow right behind.

Friends, the trailer for Zack Snyder's movie adaptation of "Watchmen":

Will this be as rich and satisfying and as qualitative a film as "The Dark Knight" appears to be? Doubtful. Chris Nolan is a singular storyteller who wrestles every single aspect of the film to make it tell the story, and nothing more. Zack Snyder is a director with a tremendous visual eye and a great sense for good stories. But the difference between them is Nolan is also a writer, and Snyder is not. In fact, when Snyder says that he's absolutely committed to everything put on the page in the Watchmen graphic novel, that actually makes me MORE nervous about the final film. Slavish devotion to a literary piece is not what makes for a great film.

Just ask Mark Steven Johnson, who directed Daredevil and Ghost Rider.

In fact, I would even suggest that the reason why The Dark Knight surpasses Spider-Man and Iron Man is that Nolan was willing to jettison whatever didn't fully support what he felt was the basic premise of Batman - a regular man who makes himself into a superhero through the application of his wealth and force of will in self-mastery. It's the absolute commitment to reality that makes The Dark Knight transcend other films in the genre.

And, frankly, given the basic premise of "Watchmen", that should be the same basis of that film as well.

At least, that's what I would do. :-)

In other words, I seriously doubt there will be any Oscar buzz around Watchmen.

But I DO think it it will be a fabulously fun movie, with the potential to be a very provocative film in the vein of "The Dark Knight" if they stay true to the heart of the story itself.

In short, I'm excited! Can't wait.

July 04, 2008

"Meet My FIST!!!" 2008

It seems like, in every election, there's someone who really needs to get their ass kicked.

Back in 2004, it was Ralph Nader - enter Howard Dean to administer the verbal beatdown in a debate, as I described here.

Ultimately, the debate I really wanted that year was Dean v. Bush, which I just knew would devolve into a fist fight on national TV.

But this year, my friends, we may get the next best thing.

Because someone somewhere had the delicious foresight to pit Karl Rove against John Edwards in a debate. Excuse me, potentially, in a SERIES of debates.

Just the thought of watching Turd Blossom getting his teeth kicked in verbally by this year's Angry Man Progressive is far too juicy to ignore.

I can't WAIT!

Standing Still

I am such a sucker for a good movie trailer. Case in point:

July 01, 2008

Counting Down on Oil

I'm reminded of my days back in Princeton, when many students of color were passionately lobbying the university to add an Ethnic Studies program to the curriculum through a series of rallies, protests, even a sit-in of the President's office. In the midst of this, were were a number of students who, at best, acted as devil's advocates that actively engaged the protesters on these issues. On many occasions, these Devil's advocates would make statements that were often contradictory, but were all individually inflammatory. As a result, some of these passionate protesters would become so incensed that they'd loose sight of their ultimate goal as they tried to shout down the inherent stupidness of elements of the opposition.

These so-called Devil's advocates, of course, grow up to be the Tucker Carlsons of the world.

And, in many cases, these well-intentioned passionates grow up to be Keith Olberman.

As much as I love and enjoy "Countdown with Keith Olberman", I suppose I must remind myself that, as often insightful and passionate as he can be, he can often loose sight of the forest for those damned trees.

Case in point: my recent post about his recent segment, laying much of the blame for high oil prices at the feet of Enron, oil speculators, former Senator & Mrs. Phil Graham, and, by proxy and omission, John McCain. As a number of commentators pointed out in that post, and, as this New Yorker article linked in the title addresses, while speculators can assume some of the blame, much of it must be laid at the feet of the insane growth of oil demand. Now, I'm still not entirely convinced that there isn't whole scale market manipulation, but I would not be doing my due diligence to not give voice to these other, potentially stronger factors.

And, as the New Yorker points out, these regulatory measures against speculators may, in some ways, be as much of a political stunt as the gas tax holiday proposal from the spring. While I believe it's clearly a more substantive stunt, it still beats up a familiar bogeyman for the public while not addressing the fundamental, underlying issues.