Thursday, December 11, 2008

How NOT to make a movie.

As I suffered through Punisher: War Zone last night, it occurred to me that I felt a need to write down my observations on what exactly went wrong. I will list a few here and probably add more as they come to me. 

1) Brightly colored splash lighting: 

It's as though someone said "It should be brooding and gloomy, this atmosphere! I have an idea. That side of the stage, light it dark blue! The other side? Bright GREEN! HAHA! YES!" Now, I am, as many people know, a big fan of Dario Argento, who in his "Three Mothers" trilogy (Suspiria is the most famous of them) tended to use such lighting techniques to add a strange supernatural feeling to things. I feel like it worked when he did it in the late 70s/early 80s because that WAS the state of the art in stylization. But in a post Sin City world, this simply does not cut the cake. It looks cartoony and ridiculous. Moreover, having read much of Garth Ennis' Punisher runs, the backgrounds were NEVER that crudely colored. Awful and cartoony. F-

2) Crazy people. 

Everyone loves a good crazy guy, but it is important to realize that crazy people are much scarier when they are quiet, particularly when played by bad actors. This movie could almost have been saved if the two "WHOO HOO WE'RE CRAZY" guys had been less Looney Toons and more catatonic. Constant cackling, pretending to be a kitty cat, etc... That really just doesn't work. 
What kind of research did they do? "Well, when I was preparing to play this character, I just focused a lot on the parts of Daffy Duck cartoons where he kisses the guy and then jumps away going 'Hoohoo! Hoohoo!' I think I nailed it." 
At the very least they could take the source material seriously, which brings us to point the third. 

3) Flat out disrespecting the source material. 

There is nothing that'll turn the core fanbase of a movie off more than flat out saying, through your film, "I don't care about this." I would argue that just about every person involved in the making of this movie (except maybe the blood splatter guys) made that decision every single time they shot something. Each scene ended with kind of a "So what?" blah-ness as if the director had simply cried out "Close enough" instead of cut. 

It was fucking brutal. Read the book, take the basic heart of the story and find a goddamn way to make that work as a movie. I swear to GOD I could have done better. I really could have. And not because I'm a better director or actor or whatever... But because I have a better understanding and appreciation of the original material! That's really what an adaptation requires. At least an UNDERSTANDING. If you ask anyone vaguely aware of comics, "Hey who's cartoonier, the X-men or the Punisher?" They would without a doubt say "The X-men by a mile"... And yet, their movie turned out pretty goddamn good because it was taken seriously. 

Sometimes Hollywood makes me so mad... I just might hurt myself. 


1 comment:

Snott Normal said...

The whole source material argument is pretty much dead-on. I mean... it's the sort of thing that just brings on calls of fanboy-ism, but the source material was popular for a reason. I think the Spider-Man flicks (the first two anyways) are even better examples than the X-Men ones - for all that they changed, they got the core of the character down pretty damn well.

Fuck, I still have hopes for a revamped Howard the Duck movie. :(