Monday, August 24, 2009

Just A Thought About Comics

There I was watching an awesome little web show called Atop the Fourth Wall and the host Linkara said something that got me thinking. Here is a link to his site (press here for fun). Anway he asked about what happened to comics being fun? It seems everywhere you turn things are all dark and gritty. Now I like dark and gritty and I think it has a lot to do with my favourite comic character and how I discovered him but surely there are comics out there that don't need to be changed.

I've always liked comics, I can remember being a fan of X-Men, Batman and Hulk but I didn't true lover of comics until a fateful day when I was eleven. (que flashback music) My dads work had a donation of comic books and rpg's, of course dad pulled a few strings so I could go and select a few things to take home with me. Not only on that faithful day did I grab some World of Darkness role playing books (that started something as well) but I was drawn to another comic Hellblazer issue 13, I also picked up a trade paper back calle Mythos: Final Tour. Both these comics had a character called John Constantine and I was in love. A prick who tried to do his best but while succeeding on the bigger picture would constantly lose friends and loved ones. Now this comic can get pretty dark and influenced my tastes. (Don't forget Deadpool being your second favourite character.) (Thank you yellow text.) (That's all right.)

I'm also a fan of The Boys and The Authority which has superheros (if you can call them that) killing villains left and right. I think this all leads up to the question that Linkara asks. Sometimes just people tearing each other a new one and always having dark and gritty worlds can get to people and you begin to wonder if there isn't something out there which is a little lighter. I think probably the poster boy of intriguing stories yet a fun vibe would have to go to Superman. Yeah not my cup of tea but he is so pure, noble and will always do right; it's actually refreshing. I've heard people ask if they should change it so Superman kills, but then it wouldn't be Superman. While I dig some of the darker material (loving the current X-Force run) I understand that not all characters can be this way. Superman killing people is just not right.

A character from the DC that I have a lot of time for is The Flash particularly Wally West but Barry Allen is also great and i've taken the time to read some of the back stories. My favourite stories were often those that had him teaming up with Green Lantern and those that pitted him against Professor Zoom (oh god was he a brilliant villain). Anyway if someone was to come to me and tell me that they were making a grittier Flash who now killed people or was a loner or that they were making it a grittier story like Sin City, I would cry shenanigans. That just wouldn't be the Flash in any of the incarnations.

I think the trouble comes from multiple areas. Readers who just want that one flavour that suits them over and over again. Marketers who view violence and gritty stories as the in thing and push for more of the same crap. Finally some writers who might be afraid to write the story without violence and stay true to the original vision. (mind you the last one is a tough one) Honestly I'm currently enjoying The Flash Rebirth as it's put a smile on my face and made me think of all the fun I've had with some titles. Yes I will always be a someone bent on violence and grittier titles but I know there are other things out there and will try to support comics as a whole.

In fact I might get some of my Flash stuff and have a read tonight.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

District 9 and the Mockumentry

PLOT: "It's been 28 years since the aliens made first contact, but there was never any attack from the skies, nor any profound technological revelation capable of advancing our society. Instead, the aliens were treated as refugees. In order to accommodate them, the government of South Africa set up a makeshift home in District 9 as politicians and world leaders debated how to handle the situation. As the humans begin to grow wary of the unwelcome intruders, a private company called Multi-National United (MNU) is assigned the task of controlling the aliens. When MNU field operative Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is exposed to biotechnology that causes his DNA to mutate, the tensions between the aliens and the humans intensifies. Ostracized and isolated, Wikus retreats to District 9 in a desperate bid to shake his dogged pursuers" With thanks from IMDB

REVIEW: "There are a lot of secrets in District 9." Yes there are character whose name escapes me from movie. There is also a lot of awesomeness. I think this hands done has to be the best blockbuster of the summer so far. The plot is coherent, the acting is great, I can see the action take place and I'm invested in the main character. Well done Neill Blomkamp you've made my day with this finely crafted film, also big round of applause Sharlto Copley who plays Wikus Van De Merwe the main character. He had a lot on his plate and and yet hit all the right notes. It was also great to see a movie taking place in a South Africa a country we westerners don't often see in movies.

One of the more interesting things this movie does is blend documentary footage into the main narrative. This documentary comments on the events that are happening. One of the criticisms I've heard from reviewers is that there are some shots in the movie that couldn't be done by the documentary crew. The problem is these impossible shots are not supposed to be done by the documentary crew. To make it simple there are two timelines playing out in this movie, the present which is just the standard movie and the future where people are being interviewed about the events. This could be a little confusing but I think it lends a freshness to the movie that lets it stand out, and this brings me to what I want to talk about. The mockumentary. (Mockumentary = fake documentary)

Personally I love the mockumentary and i'm always keen to see the latest Christopher Guest movie as it's guranteed to be a fun time. Who is Christopher Guest? He just happens to be the writer/director of Best In Show, A Mighty Wind and Waiting for Guffman some of the funniest mockumentary's out there. Oh yeah he also wrote This Is Spinal Tap which in my mind is the best mockumentary out there.

So why make a movie like a documentary? Honestly I can't get the specific reasons as I'm not that bright, but I think it allows a sense of realism to be applied to situations that would be fantastical. A lot of Christopher Guest's stuff is about weird people with weird hobbies. Bring in the documentary elements especially if you're letting the actors ad lib and suddenly we can relate to these weird people making the humor funnier. I think it can also tap into the voyeuristic natures most of us have. Also as I said with District 9 it can lend a movie some freshness. Sure we've seen plenty of movies with aliens but how many documentaries? (Okay there was that fake fox special Alien Autopsy)

I don't think I can talk about mockumentaries without mentioning the Blair Witch Project. At one point in time there were people who believed that the movie was real. This had a lot to do with the marketing just look at the missing poster to the right. Pretty well thought out. But the movie itself was a very well put together mockumentary that played to its strengths. Made on the cheap it raked in the money and yet it was able to scare because it implie the horror with not actually having to show it. If this was just a cheap horror movie that didn't use the documentary style then we would of all forgotten about it. In fact I think it's safe to say that it would of never been released.

The mockumentary can be a very powerful tool if used for the right topic. Off the top of my head I don't think I can come up with a mockumentary that failed in my eyes though I'm sure there are some out there. I really hope that with District 9 making the impact that it has that we might get a few more mockumentaries that delve into some interesting territories.

Updates

Not really sure how many people read this blog if any but I've hit a dry spell and well I think I've come up with an idea on how to solve that. One of the things I wanted to avoid with this blog was reviews. Not that I have a problem with reviews just I think there are plenty of reviewers out there. But because of this dry spell I'm going to start doing mini reviews that lead to topics that I'll do a little discussion on.