Film: Hey, look! Cool pictures!

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The last week has seen some very cool press releases for upcoming movies.  Speed Racer has seen THREE new trailers come out this week, much to my infantile excitement.

What really got me jazzed was the release of a picture from Tropic Thunder, which stars and is directed by Ben Stiller.  Now, I probably haven’t been excited for a Stiller movie since I was 12, but this one looks seriously and genuinely funny.  Stiller stars as an action movie star, who is undergoing military training for a war movie, alongside Jack Black as a heroine-addicted comedian, and Robert Downey Jr., pictured in the center below.

Tropic Thunder

That’s right, Robert Downey Jr. plays a WHITE Australian actor who is such a hardcore method actor that he undergoes cosmetic surgery to BECOME black in order to get this role.

Robert Downey Jr.

Amazing.  Since he has begun his film comeback last year, he is quickly becoming my favorite working actor.  I would watch Downey in ANYTHING, and I can hardly believe I’m looking forward to this movie, but it looks like Downey, at the very least, will be genuinely hilarious.

Read the rest of the article to see a HUGE comic book-to-actor-to-film comparison of the newly released photos from the Watchmen movie.

These came out a week ago, but I don’t think got the buzz they deserved.  “Watchmen” is, in my outspoken opinion, the greatest comic book ever created.  Written by Alan Moore and pencilled by Dave Gibbons between 1985 and 1986, “Watchmen” deconstructs society, humanity, and the idea of social accountability using a dark and detailed story about superheroes and how they would change the real world.  The film is being directed by Zack Snyder (“300,” “Dawn of the Dead”), and will be released on March 6, 2009.

On March 6, 2008, they released the first shots of five of the principle characters from the story.  For the sake of comparison, I will post the character as drawn in the comic, the actor playing him, and then finally the character shot released last week.

Adrian Veidt, AKA Ozymandias, is considered by many to be the smartest man on the planet.  After conditioning his mind and body to the absolute peak of human potential, he becomes a crimefighter who patterns himself after the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II, before retiring and capitalizing on his popularity to spearhead numerous business ventures that make him a billionaire.

Ozymandias

Ozymandias will be portrayed by Matthew Goode, a  29 year-old English actor who been acting since 2002 and has yet to really hit it big.

Matthew Goode

Probably one of the more radically redesigned characters for the film, his look is considerably darker, and features “Batman and Robin”-esque sculpted rubber nipples.  In any other movie and any other character I would be screaming, but the superheroes of “Watchmen” were always intended to be gaudy caricatures of how ridiculous superheroes were, and Ozymandias is probably the most flamboyant and sexually ambiguous.  While I would have liked to see more color and flowiness to the costume, I really like Goode’s look as Veidt.  He has a youthful look to him, but also appears to be wizened by his lifetime of experiences.  I think Goode will look Greate in Veidt’s dapper business suit.

Ozymandiasfilm

Next up, probably the other most drastically changed character is Dan Dreiberg, the second Nite Owl.  An intelligent young scientist who inherited the mantle of Nite Owl from a legendary adventurer of the 1930s, he relied more on gadgets and cleverness to fight crime than brute strength.  After going into forced retirement with most of the other heroes in 1977, he becomes overweight, insecure, lonely, and unsure of himself.

Nite Owl

He will be played by Patrick Wilson, the developing star of “Hard Candy” and “Little Children.”

Wilson

The redesign of the costume is, for  all intents and purposes, a brown Batman costume.  The ears are angled a little more to the side, and instead of a mask he appears to have a hood and fitted goggles, but if it were black and had a chest logo, it would be effectively indistinguishable from one of the molded-rubber suits from the Batman movies.  Although I like it for the character, and it follows with the satirization of existing costumes, I guess I would like to see him a little more distinguished and a little less threatening.  In the book, Dan is a character struggling with feelings of uselessness and impotence, and I don’t really think that comes across here

nite owl film

The next character, Edward Blake AKA The Comedian, dies immediately before the beginning of the book,  but is a central character in the story, his death being the central mystery for a large part of the story.  He is the ultimate Ugly American: Part Captain America, Part Punisher, and Part G. Gordon Liddy, he has raped, murdered, toppled governments and kept bad people in power, all in the name of America, and never apologized for any of it.  The most impressive part of the book, and what the movie will really need to work to achieve, is that even though he is a horribly amoral person, the reader still feels a measure of sympathy for Eddy Blake.

Comedian

The Comedian will be played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, best known as the swoon-worthy heart patient Denny Duquette from the second season of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

JDM

Now, with this particular picture, I almost think the way it was photographed makes the character look worse than he will (hopefully) appear in the finished movie.   All the pieces are here, but the hair and the mask look really fake.  I think when he’s in motion, sneering, smoking, and talking in that irresistibly charming voice of JDM, it will be better.

Comedianfilm

Next up is Laurie Juspeczyk, AKA the Silk Spectre.  She was groomed by her mother, the original Silk Spectre, to take her place, but quickly finds herself disenchanted and embittered with the hero lifestyle.  Her costume, much to her own eventual disgust, is very short, skimpy, and revealing, accentuating all the womanly curves and features as female superhero costumes so uniformly and unceasingly do.

Silk Spectre

Her film counterpart is the deliciously attractive Malin Akerman, who has a memorable appearance as Freakshow’s wife in “Harold and Kumar Go to Whitecastle,” and was recently featured in “The Heartbreak Kid,” and “27 Dresses.”

Akerman

The film design has similarities to the comic character, with some very distinct differences.  First, she’s got some extremely straight, extremely long, banged hair on her, which I don’t really think gels with the world of 1985.  Also, the costume is exceedingly, insanely tight vinyl.  Although I’m sure Akerman will wear it well, and she certainly does in this photo, I have a few concerns.  Firstly, it’s a vinyl costume, and she’s the Silk Spectre.  That is just a logical error, any way you cut it.  Secondly, the original wore a short skirt, but oh my word.  If this pose was photographed from any other angle, we’d be seeing some things Papa Akerman probably wouldn’t want displayed.  I’m genuinely concerned whether or not her personal bits will be covered, even when she’s standing up.

Spectrefilm

Last but certainly not least, is Walter Kovacs, AKA Rorschach.  A brutal and violent absolutist vigilante, Rorschach is probably the closest thing the book has to a main character.  His costume, a traditional detective’s outfit of suit, trenchcoat and hat, is made unusual and appealing by his mask, which is made from a special material with a floating black liquid in it that causes it to resemble a Rorschach Ink Blot Test.  Without his mask, he is described in the text of the comic as “fascinatingly ugly.”  He is simultaneously sympathetic and repulsive, the authors manage to make the actions of a murderous sociopath completely understandable.

Rorschach

Masked

Walter

Unmasked

Rorschach is being played, in what I think is a brilliant piece of casting, by Jackie Earle Haley, who certainly (with no hate intended) fits the “fascinatingly ugly” description.  He is best known as a child star, playing bad-boy baseball punk Kelly Leak in “Bad News Bears” and its two sequels.  Three decades later, he has reemerged, co-starring in “Little Children,” and being one of the bright spots in the disappointing “Semi-Pro.”

JEH

The film version is basically exactly as Rorschach appears in the comic, except his trench coat is shortened ever so much.  Basically, Rorschach is the iconic character of the movie, so taking him in a radically different direction could really spell doom for this film.

trorschachfilm

That’s all Zack Snyder has given the public thus far.  I think, as a whole, this makes me even more excited for this movie.  I am hoping to procure one of the countdown clocks, so I can keep exact time until I get to see it.

**As I final note; despite what was printed in the March 12 issue of CM Life, I am the CM Life Movie Dude, and do no sort of blogging about music.  Maybe we’ll get lucky and Mike Fuksman will start posting about music again, but if that’s what you’re looking for, my posts are not the places to go.  You darned kids and your indie music, get off my lawn.

–Brad Canze, the CM Life Movie Dude

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