Wanted vs V For Vendetta

V For Vendetta stillSo in a fit of mindless entertainment seeking I went to see Wanted. How poor, shallow and truly uninspiring it is. You know that things are bad in the cinema industry when ticket prices rival a small meal and can only be purchased at the ‘concession’ stand because they’ve laid off the staff who used to sell them.

Wanted is, quite frankly, garbage. All the portentious, pseudo cryptic shit the Wachowski brothers sensibly strained out when distilling The Matrix coupled with all the action stunts that got canned when they were making things like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Add to this the most unexciting and useless train sequence since Mission Impossible 1 and you’ve got a picture with loser written all over it. I mean if you’re going to play the Dan Brown thousand year conspiracy thing, you’d really better at least watch a couple of episodes of Alias, if only to see how they make something like 16th Century Da Vinci wannabe Rambaldi into a compelling part of the plot.

As for Morgan Freeman, either he’s just got greedy in his old age or someone at Universal has something on him because this is without doubt his worst movie ever. You’ve got to hope he’s going to enjoy the money because no one is going to enjoy or remember his performance. It’s like Samuel L Jackson after Pulp Fiction when he was in that Shark/Whale film that no one can be bothered to remember and got bitten in two in a travesty of CGI – so bad people in the cinema started laughing. As for Wanted, it’s so bad no one was talking when they left the cinema.

So I get home and decide to continue the brain out by watching V For Vendetta. Bad move. This is everything that Wanted isn’t. It resonates. It forces you to think even as you’re watching Hugo Weaving do his kung fu leaping. It’s a real reflection on life today and the continuing pimping of fear. It makes you wonder how far would you go and what you’d be prepared to sacrifice even as you’re struggling to get over the often badly delivered Shakespearean doggrel.

However, it does share one thing with Wanted. Both were derived from comic books and both highlight the fact that no matter how sophisticated (or base) the comic, you can’t simply copy that into film. Film isn’t simply a succession of comic panels just as comics aren’t simply a selection of stills. Film is both infinitely more dense and compact than any comic book, while comics have a breadth and scope that film can’t even aspire to. Here are some comics that haven’t made it onto the screen well, Hulk, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Batmans 1 – 4 (Batman Begins is a film, not a comic book), Supermans 1 – 4, Elektra, Hulk (again), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Akira (great animation, terrible, terrible ending) and Sin City. As proof, Watchmen is a fantastic comic but utterly unfilmable, while Batman Begins is a great film but would make a shit comic book. Of all the recent comic book adaptations, perhaps only Spiderman manages the crossover and that’s only in the first movie. By the time you get to Spidey 3, it’s all tedious action pieces and have a go happy endings. As far as V For Vendetta goes, the movie is more a take on the comic than any attempt to reproduce its full range, so at least it’s playing to the strengths of the film medium.

As for Wanted, the comic could be every bit as crap as the movie, but I wouldn’t know because I’m never going to pick it up.

Is Powers the best comic out there?

Developed around the same time as Alan Moore’s Top Ten and inspired by the book behind Homicide Life On the Street, Powers is simply the most exciting comic book I’ve found for ages. At first, I was a bit wary of its relatively cartoonish art style by Michael Avon Oeming, but by the time I got through the first chapter, I was totally seduced. Powers TPB1 Cover

The world behind Powers is beautifully described and detailed by both Oeming and writing superstar Brian Michael Bendis, it’s a pastiche of ’40s film noir and the kind of TV police procedural that has found its peak in The Wire.

It’s also a world inhabited by superheroes – the Powers of the title. Detective Christian Walker and his new partner, the fantastically blunt and foul mouthed Deena Pilgrim, investigate powers related homicides. So far, so humdrum, but this is just the jumping off point for a series of stories that cover celebrity, music, fashion, the media and, inevitably, the ‘reality’ of superhero life.

And, while in the first volume, we’re simply dealing with the death of a world famous superhero, Retro Girl, by the 11th volume we’ve seen hero teams come and go like supergroups, one superhero die through sexual excess and one decide to solve the world’s problems by burning the pope, nuking Utah and incinerating the Gaza Strip. Oh and Pilgrim has become infected with what appears to be a vampire superhero disease, while Walker has become a tripped out intergalactic guardian of the planet.

Bendis’ trick is that he makes all of this seem not only utterly plausible, but downright enjoyable. His dialogue is so snappy it stings. It reaches its peak in the verbal abuse between Pilgrim and Kutter, which looked like it was going to be a staple of the series until Kutter went and got his head ripped off by an apparently dead body. Still it appears Deena’s got herself a new sparring partner, so the vitriol will continue to flow.

Unlike many comics that can barely sustain an issue, let alone a paperback, Powers looks like it’s just got started. I’m just pissed that I’m going to have to wait another 6 months for volume 12.