Thursday, January 13, 2005
How to make a perfect (comic)strip-movie (2)
4. GOOD CASTING
Moreover, the power of good casting is not to be underestimated. Jack Nicholson is perfectly casted as the Joker in Batman. From his previous roles, he has already proven that he can play manic and psychotic characters. These are the most important properties of the Joker.
Nicholson played the Joker with a lot of over acting and expressions, precisely as the character in the strip. At the same time, Nicholson knows how to portray the Joker into a real person. The fact that the conceited Jack should lost his beautiful face through an accident with the chemicals and wears a Joker-face afterwards makes it logical that he freaks out.
Two things are important when it comes to casting: an actor has to physically resembles the strip character - make-up and protheses do wonders - and the actor has to be able to portray a recognizable character. Gerard Depardieu as Obelix thus fulfill all requirements. Ron Perlman is the best candidate for Hellboy.
5. (COMIC)STRIP ELEMENTS ON THE WHITE SCREEN
We can find a good example for a strip-ish performance in the scene in Spider-Man where Norman Osborn (Dafoe) converses with his alter ego Green Goblin through a mirror. The scene is constructed so that the Goblin can only speak to Norman through the mirror. Here the mirror image is a metaphore for the shadowy-side of Norman's psyche - a shadowy-side that is released through the accident that gives him special powers. The performance of Dafoe is really convincing: he sets an amazing contrast between the scared and confused Norman versus the malicious Goblin. This scene, with the particular text of the Goblin and his face expressions, is really a reminder of many tirades that are possessed by supervillains in the strips, as they tell the readers what their plans are.
6. THE PERFECT MIX
The cinema public naturally consists of not only (comic)strip readers. The largest part of the public is also not taking the strip as seriously as the strip-fans. Therefore movie producers often do not take the strip readers too much into account. In the past, this has caused a crooked interpretation of the stripheroes; movies that belong to the 'ridiculous' genre were made (Did we mention Joel Schumacher?). Anyway, we can find elements of humor in the 'serious' movies. Spider-Man 2 has many slapstick moments and, especially, the cynical humor of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Hellboy considerably relate to this affair.
In short: in the making of (comic)strip movie, a good balance between realism and larger-than-life aesthetics should always be kept. On one hand the film makers should take the original material seriously and take care that the strip characters become flesh and blood; on the other hand there should be something to laugh about. These extremes are mixed perfectly in a successful stripfilming. It is exactly this exciting tension that makes the strips and the filming so enjoyable.
[You should see these movies!]
1. SPIDER-MAN 1 (2002) AND 2 (2004)
Why does a superhero movie have to be only about action? Spider-Man proves that drama and spectacle can go hand in hand. Both part one and two stay on the first place because they can not do without each other.
2. SUPERMAN THE MOVIE (1978)
Superman is the powerpioneer, the example for all superhero movies of recent times. The film may be well outdated, but it still actually looks good. In 2006 a new Superman movie will be released.
3. HELLBOY (2004)
Director Del Toro knew to give Hellboy more depth in one movie than Mignola in the whole comic series. Absolutely not a standard superhero movie. And Ron Perlman IS entirely Hellboy.
4. ROAD TO PERDITION (2002)
Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) obtains the best acting job of Tom Hanks. This is a gangster movie with a big heart and a tragic end.
5. X-MEN 2 (2003)
X-Men 1 counts only on special effects while the story is still flat, X2 makes up for it.
6. AMERICAN SPLENDOR (2003)
A fascinating, weird and unique story about a nerd Harvey Pekar who wants to be a comic artist and then achieves it with the help from Robert Crumb. Special moments are when the actor left the scene and the real Harvey took over the role.
7. GHOST WORLD (2001)
Comfortable atmosphere, beautiful music and Steve Buscemi in one of his life-written role. Ghost World encourage many people who are in the special business of strip to look and read further.
8. BATMAN RETURNS (1992)
Michael Keaton is still the best Batman. This movie scores overall points by Michelle Pfeiffer's presence in her tight Catwoman-outfit.
9. BLADE (1998)
Bold vampires. It is smart that the makers of a middlish strip have made an upper-middlish movie. The third part releases in January.
10. THE ROCKETEER (1991)
A movie that many people forget that it is taken from a strip. It was also not a great success, commercially. Nevertheless we find that the director Joe Johnston have delivered a jewel. With a point of ten.
Derived from an article by Michael Minneboo, "Zo maak je de perfecte Stripverfilming", at MYX Stripmagazine Nr. 11 Tweede Jaargang/ December 2004 [www.myxmag.nl]