Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Do’s and Don’t-Even-Think-It’s in Comic, Cartoon and Video Game Movies and TV

To be fair, I had warning from people who were actual DC comic fans. People who read Green Lantern long before Hollywood decided it was the in thing to do. I had been told that the film had made little effort to stick with the original, Pre-52, Pre-Crisis, Pre-Let’s-Let-Tim-Burton-Direct-Batman era of the Green Lantern, and I was told that unless I like seeing Ben 10 CGI’s in 3-D, DO NOT see this film. So I have nobody to blame but myself. I wound up watching the film twice on HBO. Once because I had missed a good 30 minutes, and again to make 100% sure I had seen what I did.

That was a mistake. Granted, not a Catwoman sized mistake, but certainly not one of my best decisions.

While the film tries very hard to endear the audience to the film’s title super hero with moderate humor, I can’t look past how little they actually got right. And the CGI was out of control. Gone was the light from the Green Lantern’s ring, replaced with a Nickelodeon CGI slime. The suits had their own tendons and the script felt like it wanted to be nine movies at once ~ with only two of the 9 scripts having anything to do with the DC universe.

Tired I am of the fake excuse some fanboys make, that the studios are always right and have the right to damage a franchise as they so choose, because they paid for it, or the other excuse that I should just take an incorrect movie at entertainment value.

Wrong. Very wrong.

When you buy the rights to the film, you have an obligation to make said film as accurate as possible. Otherwise you deserve whatever abysmal DVD sales await you, and the permanent shame and degradation that goes with your failed concept. Even if the movie grosses well, the fact that it’s future will reside on a 2 am Telemundo broadcast should be testament to the failure you have dealt us all.

But what good does it do me to sit here and complain about these films, when I can just as easily provide you with a few tips on the next film endeavor? So dear future film makers, here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts for your next Comic Book, Cartoon or Video Game film:

DO: Cast unknowns. The first X-Men movies got lucky, casting Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier. There is a gifted few in Hollywood that can match a comic book character, and fewer still as good at acting as Stewart. But the world isn’t filled with Patrick Stewarts, and Halle Berry is as far from being either Storm or Catwoman as I am from playing Big Barda. So instead of wasting countless millions on pre-established stars, save the studio a pretty penny and do this:

Hold a comic book convention audition. Challenge wannabe actors to make the most accurate costume they can, and do their best impersonation of each hero and villain you’re casting. Contrary to popular fiction, there’s an even number of athletically built men and women who follow comics, and most comic fans are so die hard in their fandom, that they will even strive to get the thread-count right in the costume. Acting classes for these people will still be less expensive and time consuming then trying to force Hugh Jackman to hunch over a few inches to play Wolverine.

DON’T EVER: Make a re-envisioning, reboot or “retcon” a story.

If you want to tell a story outside of your franchise’s continuity, do it on a Fanfiction forum. Keep your fanboy daydreams OUT of the movies or television. Here’s a short list of movie and TV blunders made by Hollywood, to remind you why this is a bad idea:

There are NO “alien” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were born and raised in New York.

Goku was not a 16 year old when he met Bulma/Buruma. He was 12 and he never went to a traditional high school.

Bugs Bunny has never seen a Dalek.

Batman does not drive a tank.

Bowser and the Koopa Troopas are not dinosaurs. They are turtle-like creatures. Similarly a Goomba is a walking mushroom.

Underdog lived by himself, walked upright and was not a pet of a lonely young boy with Daddy issues.

Kitana never stayed with Batman the way Robin did. Likewise, Alfred does not ride in the Batmobile with a pistol.

Josie and the Pussycats never went to outer space. If they did, they would have left Alexandra on the first God-forsaken, airless, misogynistic planet they could find.

Lara Croft does not have blue eyes.

The only time a retcon is acceptable is when it’s established as an alternate universe.

Example: the Star Trek reboot is established mid-movie as an alternate universe, when Kirk meets the original Spock, and Spock explains that he was pulled through a rip through time and space, and was pulled out of the original Star Trek universe and into this one. Anybody with a Kindergarten education can follow such a simple story.

DO: Stick to the continuity.

Nothing pleases a movie goer more than a totally accurate film, and nothing quite pleases a couch potato more than seeing a TV show, written by someone who paid attention.

If this is a Video Game movie/show: Play the ENTIRE GAME. Take notes and pictures while you play. Take down the script and stick to it.

If this is a cartoon/anime adaptation, rent the DVDs and watch them. Every episode. Take notes on the characters, the personalities, the story. Stick to it.

If this is a comic/manga adaptation, go to your local comic shop, buy up at least one story arc (ask the clerk for help if you’re new at this) then take your comics to a Kinko’s. Have each page blown up, and take the blown up copies to your staff. Now you have a storyboard and script, from which you can make your movie.

DON’T EVER: Add characters that do not exist in the series.

The 1960’s Batman series suffered, when nosey, idiotic Aunt Harriet suddenly stuck her behind into Dick and Bruce’s lives. Similar nosey, semi-authority figures such as dumb bosses, teachers and other assorted busy-bodies only serve to water down the plot, drag the story out far past where it should, and undermine the stars.

Downtrodden, “Let’s live in the REAL world ~ and while we’re at it, the world SUCKS” characters like the granddaughter in the Hey Albert movie, Jenna Elfman’s role in Looney Tunes Back in Action, or Piper Perabo ’s character in the Rocky and Bullwinkle film, also bog down would-be comedies. Every time one of these characters opens their mouths, the comedy gets sucked right out of the film, and we’re left with so-called “life lessons” that strip the rest of the cast not only if their joy, but their character as well. By the time these angst-ridden characters finally learn the moral of the film, and learn to accept the cast for the goofy yet lovable characters they are, it’s too late. Someone is dying, someone is hurt, and the credits are about to roll. Film is ruined and what could have been a blockbuster is now heading for the $5 bin at Wal*Mart.

Seedy executive types like the villain in the CGI Chipmunks movie are best left in the 80’s. They only serve to annoy and drive away customers of your franchise.

Furthermore, add-in child characters added as much “fresh” appeal as a rotting banana. Take a lesson from the many incarnations of Scooby Doo, which lost ratings each time a new, youthful character was added. (Scrappy Doo anybody?)

DO: Open your mind when it comes to the youth.

Not every character needs to be an agnsty teenager. And not every kid is a troublemaker with a sad past. These stories have been over-told and are not charming.

Astro Boy for example was a brave, sensitive robot child, no older than 7. He was never a deep voiced, CGI teenager on the verge of his first love, nor did he ever hang around teens with trust issues. He did however wind up in later seasons with robot parents and a robot little sister, and Astro Boy fought hard to bridge the gap between robots and humans.

In the original Dragonball anime and manga, 12 year old Goku and 13 year old Kuririn/Krillin were homeschooled by Muten/Master Roshi. Neither one grew up to be “stupid” or “friendless”. In fact, by the time the series wraps up, the two boys have more face to face, met in real life friends from all walks of life than they ever dreamed possible.

Not once did they ever set foot in a traditional school, and yet they had the same cast of friends anybody else would have. This should be kept in film. Which reminds me…

DON’T EVER: Send a character to school if he/she NEVER went.

I can understand if you’re making a live action movie, based on Fruits Basket or a cartoon movie about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, since those characters are all teenagers in school.

But for the love of humanity enough with the school films and TV! Please leave High School Musical to Disney.

Iron Man was NOT a freshman in High School when he received the armor, nor was Jean Grey a middle school tween when he met her. Nightcrawler was never a dorky, 16 year old exchange student at Professor X’s institute, anymore than Goku was a moody sophomore at B.S. High.

Making the main character a student does NOT endear him/her to the audience. If anything it makes people want to avoid your film or show twice as much. So please, cut it out.

DO: Know when to quit.

One Superman movie was enough. Two was a passible surprise. But 6 was too many, especially when the last movie erased any notion of this being a Superman movie by completely going against what little continuity was left and adding characters that serve to annoy almost as much as the evil-bitch-retcon of Lois Lane.

If you feel a movie might do really well, set a Trilogy limit for the movies. Once movie 3 is out, STOP. Walk away and work on another project. Never go back.

Also, have it written in your will that the world is forbidden to re-make what you have made. You can spare us all of crappy re-hashes the next time Hollywood runs out of ideas.

DON’T EVER: Over-explain.

Odds are good that the viewer is smart enough to understand when the villain blows up a car or when a chipmunk can talk. We don’t need a narrative from a character, trying to understand such a simple, fantasy concept. Remember Dave, this isn’t National Geographic, you’re in a Chipmunks movie.

DO: Go easy on the special effects.

CGI’s can add a subtle, awe worthy effect to any film ~ when done in moderation. But when it gets to the point where the movie looks like the 30th Dreamworks re-hash, it’s time to stop. The same goes for 3-D, the novelty wears off too quickly with movie goers. Keep the effects simple and the crowd will follow.

DON’T EVER: Add drama where it doesn’t belong.

Marvel deals with enough social issues in each comic, that we don’t need to stop the Fantastic Four movie so that Sue and Reed can discuss whether or not they should break up the team in the event that Sue gets pregnant, anymore than we needed to stop 15 different episodes of Warner Brothers’ X-Men Teen spin-off, so we could deal with Kitty Pryde’s ever confusing hormones or the X-Men movie’s issue with Rouge’s inability to be close to another person, physically.

DC’s Teen Titans is riddled with an over abundance of drama to the point that extra social issues are not required. Starfire has enough going on with the return of Blackfire, her wicked older sister who sold her into sex slavery at age 12, that she doesn’t need the additional drama of Robin and Cyborg fighting. Beast Boy has enough problems with his emotions over Terra, without Raven adding her Daddy issues and emotional problems to the mix.

Keeping a tight grip on a story’s continuity can mean the difference between a flop and a lifetime achievement award. All you need is accuracy.

1 comment:

  1. Yet another amazing a truthful post by Koriander! ^^ I hate the new reboots of Voltron, Power Rangers and DragonBall (the series is all butchered now)

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