Posts filed under ‘Watchmen’

Top Six: Most anticipated movies of 2009

logo222I’m home from school, and, while I can’t do my Top Six movies of 2008 because I have yet to see “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and feel like I’ll really enjoy that flick, I need something to do. That’s pretty much why this blog has been started back up, even after such a long hiatus.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep Movie Chutzpah up through next semester, but you never know. But, let’s all just enjoy it while it lasts.

Let’s be honest; 2008 was an incredible year for movies. “The Dark Knight,” “WALL-E,” you name it — there were some amazing movies that hit theaters this year, and I think it showed at the box office. Even with the industry worried about home theaters, netflix and pirating movies taking away from the in-theater sales, “The Dark Knight” made an insane amount of cash, and even smaller flicks like “Mama Mia” did quite well in their runs. So will the studios be able to keep it up with their 2009 lineups?

We’ll see. The lasting effects of the writers’ strike might put a damper on things — especially in the comic book movie genre, which could lose a lot of the steam it picked up with “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man.” But even so, there’s plenty to be excited about, I promise. Without further ado, here are the six movies I can’t wait to see next year.

6. “Terminator Salvation,” May 22, 2009

title-for-terminator-4-gets-terminated“1984” is my favorite book, “Brazil” is one of my favorite movies and so-on — I love dystopian literature. I always have and a I probably always is. There’s just something very intriguing to me about the different ways government and society could go to absolute shit. And, with the entire human race being beaten in a war versus man-like machines, it doesn’t get any more dystopian and depressing than the Terminator series. I know that, no matter how many of these films McG decides to pop out (he apparently already has plans for a fifth installment after “Salvation”), nothing will ever top “Terminator 2,” but I still enjoyed the third one. “Salvation,” even though Arnold isn’t going to be in it, is exactly what Terminator fans have wanted since the beginning; we’ve heard about the Great War between man and machine for three movies. Now we get to see it. I’m really excited that Christian Bale is playing John Connor, too — I think he’s going to be a really good addition to the franchise. Check out the trailer here:

5. “Monsters vs. Aliens,” March 27, 2009

monster_vs_alienI have yet to see a Disney 3-D movie, but I’ve heard very good things about it — like, the innovations that have been made in this new generation of 3-D movies are good enough to remove the kitsch label from the technology. This will most likely be the first one I see, because it looks amazing. Action, humor and crazy character designs — I really think this has the potential to be one of, if not the, best non-Pixar CGI-based film yet. It looks as if it has a tiny bite of satire, and it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously, blatantly making fun of the classic genres its borrowing from. I love, love, love b-level 1950s sci-fi movie like “Attack of the 50 foot Woman,” “The Blob” and especially “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” so I’m assuming that a lil’ throwback-parody action in “Monsters vs. Aliens” (it looks as though the 5o-foot woman actually makes an appearance in the flick) will be fantastic. This is going to be a good one.

4. “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Nov. 6, 2009

9220__wes_lSome people love him; some people think he’s a no-talent assclown who hides under the “indie” label to slip crappy movies into American pop-culture. Wes Anderson is a very polarizing director, and I happen to be in the former category. I adore all of his movies, and “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which is reportedly using the stop-motion animation that Anderson tinkered with in “Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,” is definitely one of the most intriguing endeavors of 2009. Although the settings of his movies are drastically different, I think the core of every one has been the same — dealing with disappointment, family issues and general disfunction. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see Anderson try to work out of his element with this project. “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” is based on a classic childrens’ novel by Roald Dahl and will a great lineup of voice actors, including George Clooney, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jason Schwartzman and Anjelica Huston. Here’s a clip from “The Life Aquatic” that showcases the stop-motion animation that could be used in “Mr. Fox,” too:

3. “Inglourious Basterds,” June 2009

tarantino-sipaFirst of all, let me say something: I know both “Inglorious” and “Bastards” are spelled wrong in the title — but that’s the way director Quention Tarantino wants it. And at this point, I’m ready to let him do whatever he wants, just as long as this movie finally gets finished. He’s been talking about this project, I believe, since the early 1990s after the completion of “Reservoir Dogs.” No after all the speculation, hype and rumor, we finally know that it’s finally going to get made — with a killer cast that includes Brad Pitt, B.J. Novak (from “The Office”) and Samuel L. Jackson. From what I’ve heard about this flick, including script reviews and such, this could be Tarantino’s coupe de grace, his masterpiece. And that’s with”Pulp Fiction” — one of the best movies of all time — hanging over this project’s head. Maybe I’m getting a little carried away on the hype train, but, I think it’s safe to say that, if there’s this much buzz around a movie this earlier, it’s going to be pretty darn impressive. Here’s a fan-made video of the shooting set of the flick:

2. “Watchmen,” March 6, 2009

watchmenMy first experience with the graphic novel “Watchmen” came as soon as I could find the book after I saw the mysterious trailer linked to “The Dark Knight.” I don’t like comic books, but this was different, and it completely blew me away. Reviews — even ones from cynical comic book fans who have seen bits and pieces of the film — are crazy-good already, headed by a glowing review by indie-film guru and mega-nerd Kevin Smith. Zack Snyder’s movie is one of the only big-name comic book adaptations that will hit theaters next year, but it’s a good one. If done right, and from all accounts it has been, Snyder continue setting the bar higher for comic book movies, a trend that started with “Spider-Man” and has continued through “The Dark Knight.” I don’t want to get my hopes up too high, but I really can’t wait until I can see this — in the IMAX Experience, of course.

1. “Where the Wild Things Are,” Oct. 16, 2009

where_the_wild_things_areflvThis movie just has to freakin’ come out already! Shoots and edits and reshoots and re-edits and test audiences and so on — this movie has gone through a lot, even the release date being pushed back over a year. It seems as though everything is on the right track now, with — apparently and hopefully — the majority of Spike Jonze’s original, darker view in tact. The studio has backed him 100 percent, even after children were scared and adults calling the lead character, Max, “unlikeable” in test screenings. I, for one, desperately want to see Jonze’s version hit the screens; his work on movies like “Adaptation” and “Being John Malkovich” is simply amazing, and bringing that gritty, realistic style to one of the most surreal and famous childrens’ novels of all time … well, I’m just just excited to see it. The video posted below is very, very early test footage — the sound isn’t synced and the kid isn’t actually Max Powers, who will be playing Max — but the angles, lighting, cinematography and general feel of the movie is exactly what I expect. October 16th cannot come soon enough:

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December 22, 2008 at 10:08 pm 2 comments

Worst Watchmen news ever

So, a couple of days ago — when I posted a picture of what Rorschach will look like under the mask in the upcoming “Watchmen” adaptation — I revealed that I had broken down and read the comic book, even though I’ve never enjoyed comics. But I’m sure hardcore “Watchmen” fans aren’t surprised to find out that I loved the book and immediately began counting down the days until the movie came out.

Now comes news that, if FOX has their way, the movie will never come out.

FOX has sued Warner Brothers, the film’s producer and eventual distributer, over the rights to the “Watchmen” property, saying they’ve owned the right to make an adaption all along. A lot of internet wizards and movie geeks such as myself dismissed the lawsuit as silly and without base when the news first broke that FOX was attacking Warner Bros, just waiting until the thing was thrown out of court. But yesterday, a judge took the case a little more seriously, denying Warner Bro’s motion to dismiss the case. Uh oh.

Very little was divulged about the case, and neither party wants to comment on “ongoing litigation,” so us fans are left to twiddle our thumbs and hope for the best. But here’s the shitty party — FOX says they’re not looking for a monetary compensation or to become a profit participant of the film. They want to see that Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen” never gets released. Ever.

It doesn’t make any sense that FOX wouldn’t want this film released. True, they have the rights to produce their own “Watchmen,” and they would make tons and tons of money. But guess what? They’d have to front tons and tons of production-cost money, casting money, marketing money and whatever else production companies have to spend to get movies made. Here, the movie’s already made, Warner Brothers have already put all the money up front, and FOX stands to gain huge amounts of money from the film’s release — money that will all be straight-up profit, since they didn’t have to pay anything to get the flick made.

Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m upset at the prospect of this version of “Watchmen” never getting released. Maybe I’m just not seeing the advantage that FOX sees of blocking this film’s release. But, to me, this looks like a MASSIVE lose-lose-lose (Warner Bros, FOX and “Watchmen” fans everywhere) for everyone involved.

Variety has a little explanation about the origins of the film’s copyright history:

At the heart of Fox’s suit, filed in February, is the contention that it never ceded rights to the property. And according to the federal Judge Gary Allen Feess, Fox retained distribution rights to the graphic novel penned by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons through a 1991 claim. Furthermore, Feess appears to agree that under a 1994 turnaround deal with producer Larry Gordon, Gordon acquired an option to acquire Fox’s remaining interest in “Watchmen,” which was never exercised, thereby leaving Fox with its rights under the 1994 agreement.

The film has been in development hell since 1994, with many people saying it was impossible to bring a faithful adaption to screen. So, with so many people taking an ill-fated stab at a “Watchmen” movie, I can see where the murkiness as to who owns the rights came from.

I really don’t know much about the legal side of things. I wish I going give you some expert analysis about the goings on in the court room, but you and me both are just going to have to wait and see on this one.

August 19, 2008 at 1:26 pm Leave a comment

Watchmen update: Rorschach unmasked!

Let me take you through a brief timeline of my history with Zack Snyder’s adaptation of “Watchmen,” one of the most critically acclaimed comic books of all time:

  • I hear all sorts of excitement once news breaks that a “Watchmen” trailer is attached to “The Dark Knight.” I have no idea what all the hype is about, because I’ve never heard of it in my life. I don’t like comic books, thus “Watchmen” has never been on To Read list.
  • I see “The Dark Knight.” The “WTF, Mate?” factor is high, but even though I have no idea what’s going on in the “Watchmen” trailer, the visuals mixed with that haunting Smashing Pumpkins song make me look up the book as soon as I get over how awesome “The Dark Knight” was.
  • Upon further inspection, I figure “Watchmen” might be worthy of reading, if for no other reason than I’ll be able to keep up with the huge amounts of internet buzz around the movie now that the trailer’s out. And since I’ve decided to spend my free time pretending to be an Internet Wizard in the world of cinema, I figure that might be a good idea.
  • I go to Barnes and Noble. The book is sold out.
  • I go to Border’s. Sold out.
  • I go to another Border’s. They have some ordered, so the dude behind the counter puts my name on the waiting list. I guess I’m not the only one that was intrigued after the trailer.
  • I finally get my copy, and even though I’m skeptical because I just don’t really like comic books, “Watchmen” is unbelievable.
  • All of a sudden, I’m super excited for the movie.

I feel like a lot of people had this same series of events happened to them — they hadn’t heard of “Watchmen” until “The Dark Knight,” but after reading the book, they get what all the hype is about. They get why people are calling this “The ‘Citizen Kane’ of comic book movies.

And now, that I’m fully excited for “Watchmen,” I’m fully excited to see that Snyder’s Rorschach is true to the original source material. I think it’s important to the story that, once Rorschach is unmasked, that the viewer has this revelation that he’s not a super hero — he’s just some normal, albeit ugly, dude who smells funky.

For comparison, I’ll show you comic book Rorschach/Walter Kovacs first:

And, here’s the movie version of the character:

This should just reassure any “Watchmen” fan that Zack Snyder is really sticking to his promise that the flick will follow the source material as closely as possible. From the frame-by-frame comparisons of book to flick that hit the web after the trailer dropped, to this picture of Jackie Earle Haley (who happens to be bald in real life) in makeup as Walter Kovacs, everything that has leaked from “Watchmen” so far has screamed authenticity and a massive amount of respect for the comic book.

Good stuff.

August 14, 2008 at 5:20 am 2 comments

Two Watchmen video games on the way

Alright, so the headline is a little misleading, but I didn’t know how else to put it. Warner Brothers execs. have decided to forgo the usually terrible video game adaptation for the March release of “Watchmen,” instead opting to develop two smaller, high-quality games that will be available for download on the internet. The first will be released to coincide with the movie’s theatrical run, and the second will drop along side the “Watchmen” DVD. When I first heard this idea, I immediately thought of those crappy cellphone games and dismissed the games as lame money-making ploys.

But then I started thinking about it, and I really think Warner Brothers is onto something here. Most movie-to-video-game transitions are bumpy at best, with the production time on the game cut so severely (to make sure it comes out in accordance with the movie) that it sacrifices the integrity and quality of the game. With this plan — which allows the game to forgo all the distribution, packaging and disc-related hoopla — the games’ producers  can focus on actually making a good game, albeit a smaller one, to keep the fans happy, instead of pumping out a subpar adaptation just to pad their ever-growing wallets. And according to Variety, the guys behind the plan had a similar thought process to mine:

Warner is undoubtedly hoping that the new model it’s testing with “Watchmen” will let it avoid (a subpar adaptation) and put out high-quality games that will appeal to the large number of videogame players who are fans of the classic comicbook and will likely come out to see the film.

If successful, the studio could also produce more installments following the initial two. It may also use the downloadable videogame tie-in model for future pics.

“Watchmen,” which is being made by Danish developer Deadline Games, will feature film’s characters Rorschach and Nite Owl in an action title that’s likely to earn an M rating. It will be available to download on PCs, Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

So, I applaud Warner Brothers for this. It’s good to see execs thinking with their heads as opposed to their bank accounts. There’s no question that there’s good money in video games, and almost all of the big Hollywood productions as of late have tried to take advantage of that with quickly produced games. I’m glad to see big movies like this and “The Dark Knight” (which somehow escaped the video game trap. There isn’t, and there won’t be, a game coming out for that movie) think outside the box in terms of video game adaptations. If you have a good idea for a game, and you have sufficient time to produced it, then be my guest. But if you’re rushing to crank out a lame game, don’t bother.

July 23, 2008 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

Watchmen trailer catches the MPAA’s eye

I don’t think a measly two minutes and twenty seconds has ever done so much for a film’s hype as the “Watchmen” trailer run-time did for the upcoming super-hero epic. I went to the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight,” and one of the loudest cheers of the whole night came during the teaser for the flick; The subsequent buzz on the intwerwebs has been nothing sort of fanatical, with “just what the hell is ‘Watchmen’?” posts popping up all over to break the trailer down frame-by-tiny-frame for those who may not have been exposed to the critically acclaimed graphic novel penned by Alan Moore in the ’80s (example: Cinematical).

News comes in today from Cinema Blend that “The Dark Knight” movie-goers and uber-geeks around the country aren’t the only ones getting worked up by it. The Motion Picture Association of America decided that the trailer, which depicted a a really short, blink-and-you-miss-it shot of a gun-wielding assassin getting beaten up, needed to be altered before it could be shown in front of “The Dark Knight.” The news perplexed Zack Snyder, who is making his directorial follow-up to “300” with “Watchmen.”

“The MPAA said, ‘Look you can’t have him [holding the gun]‘ … I don’t even think it’s one second. I think it’s like 12 frames. He’s pointing the gun at the camera, and they said, ‘You can’t do that.”

The article goes on to explain that the MPAA didn’t take issue in the gun’s presence (it’s not fired or used in any way, other than to point at the guy beating him up). Instead, the fact that the gun is pointed in the general direction of the camera lens is cited as the reason why the MPAA was irked with the particular shot.

So how does a director, who is under extreme pressure to succeed with this project because of the book’s enormous popularity and acclaim, appease both the eager audience members and the MPAA board in a tight situation? Easy — steal a page from Steven Spielberg’s book.

In a move that was hotly disputed, Spielberg digitally removed all the guns from his mega-hit “E.T.,” replacing them with walkie talkies for a recent re-release of the film. Snyder did the same thing on an obviously much smaller scale; in the “12-frame” sequence, he digitally changed the object in the assailants hand from a gun to a walkie talkie

“I was like, ‘Well, it worked for Spielberg, so we should do that. Just put a walkie-talkie in his hand!’ … [The editors] were like, ‘But then you cut to a real gun!’ but I’m like, ‘No one will ever see that; they’ll think he had a gun in the other shot, so it’s fine.”

In all honesty, I’ll be damned if I can tell that there was a change made. I watched and rewatched the trailer several times (the sequence in question comes at about the 1:33 mark), and I can’t tell that the object isn’t a gun, and I’d be willing to bet a lot of money no one caught the alteration without being told about it first. I really don’t think this is a big deal at all, especially because the actual film doesn’t sound like it’s in jeopardy of being altered in any way because of the change in the trailer.

The writer at Cinema Blend seems a ton more pissed off about this than I am, ranting for a little while about the MPAA’s inconsistency and hypocrisy, but it’s not like anyone noticed, cared or won’t see “Watchmen” because of the change. And as long as the MPAA doesn’t send the actual flick back to the editing board for small changes like this, I don’t really have a problem with it at all.

Anyways, I’d be interested to know if any of you can really, honestly tell that he’s holding a walkie talkie instead of a gun. Check out the trailer, and pay special attention at around the 1:33 mark:

July 21, 2008 at 3:45 am 8 comments