Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Harwell Begins (a Blog). Also: A Feat of Filmed Entertainment

It's funny how fast a blog gets stale. When I leave the same post up for, let's say a week, returning to the blog to find the same old post still there elicits two different emotions simultaneously. One: embarrassment. "That's what everyone's been looking at for a week? That old post?! Terrible!" And Two: Surprise. "It's been a whole week since I put that up? I just wrote that!"

Anyway. I'll move on.

Exciting news. Friend of the Blog, Shawn Harwell has gone and got himself a blog. You can visit it here. It's called Holepuncher, which, as titles go, is just about perfect for a blog. At first hearing, it sounds kinda dirty, but when you think about it a bit, it's only a little dirty, but also not dirty. What, after all, could be more wholesome than a 3-hole punch? It's a tricksy title. The blog itself is all about music you'll probably like.

In other news, something momentous happened in the world of film last week. A bit of filmed entertainment about superheroes and super villains held those who saw it enthralled in theaters nationwide. And, as an example of the artistic medium in which it was produced, it's unlikely to be surpassed this year.

Of course I'm referring to the trailer for Zach Snyder's upcoming "Watchmen."

The last time a trailer this brilliant showed up, it was for another Zach Snyder movie, "300." The guy's cornering the market on one of my favorite art forms: the movie trailer. I still think the "Thin Red Line" teaser is probably the best trailer ever filmed (with the teaser for the original "Alien" a respectable second), but this new "Watchmen" trailer is instantly worthy of their company. Damn if Snyder (or the trailer-producing company he employs) doesn't pick the coolest out-of-left-field songs to accompany their pulse-quickening visuals. Last time it was the un-famous Trent Reznor joint, "Just as You Imagined" that served as the soundtrack for ripped Spartans baring their teeth and flexing their pecs. This time it's a latter-day Smashing Pumpkins track entitled "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning" that pounds in the background while certain costumed superheroes are created and others are thrown out of windows. I've listened to the song a few times -- not enough to have memorized the lyrics, but enough times to see how certain lines reflect the story with an uncanny feeling for the tone of the book. Bleak kind of pulses off of the song, but there's an underlying sense of wonder informing some beats in the song that Snyder must have picked up on because he exploits it perfectly, particularly in the scenes featuring the all-powerful (and all-blue) Dr. Manhattan. One thing that's so impressive about the melding of the visuals and music is how Snyder doesn't chop up the song to get what he needs emotionally from the trailer. He uses the best parts of the entire song and doesn't rush through to the "good part" for the big build. He lets the lyrics play, and he cuts the trailer to the song's structure, and it works like gangbusters.

This teaser/trailer promises an extraordinary movie. It looks like Zach Snyder cut a big seam in the soul of the book, crawled inside and directed a film from inside of it for a few months. I've heard that the climax of the book may have suffered some alteration in the transition from page to screen, and if they veer too far from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's vision here, then I think they'll be undermining their otherwise heroic efforts to turn an "unfilmable" graphic novel into a movie, but as to some of the other dicier aspects of the book, cinematically-speaking, it seems clear that Snyder's shying away from nothing. There's even a shot of Dr. Manhattan floating above the floor of what looks to be a cafeteria with his own Dr. Manhattan plain for all to see (though slightly obscured by after-effects). Ballsy. (No pun intended.)

And for me, the last image in this trailer promises a Mars sequence in the finished film that should be as transporting and awe-inspiring as it's always been in the "Watchmen" movie that's been playing in my head ever since I finished the book. Everything seems to be turning up roses at the multiplex for fans of comics these days. Hope it keeps up through March of next year.


Harwell said...

Thanks for the spotlight. And apparently you're not alone in your quest for that Pumpkins song since seeing the Watchmen tease. Rolling Stone has an entire article about it here:

I have mixed feelings about that teaser though. I think (if possible) you have to look at it objectively. If you take away your built-in familiarity with the graphic novel could you honestly tell me what this movie is about based on that trailer? Actually, I'll just answer that for you. NO. FREAKING. WAY. No. No. No. Not in the slightest.

And then there's the thing I really disliked about 300: the pacing. How can a movie really breathe and move if half of it is presented in slow-motion? Is there any reason to believe based on this trailer, that Watchmen won't fall into the same trap?

The characters look great and the effects look awesome. But there's a lot more than that riding on this one. Very curious to see the next preview.

Now everybody go check out the awesome questions Craig asks about THE DARK KNIGHT on his blog.

monolith said...

i am back like batman

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