Friday, October 12, 2007

Awww...

I like this cartoon's cute little Hal. (Thanks, Zuke)

See, we're not so crazy after all! (More Dark is Rising stuff)

As a fan, I've had a lot of people tell me "the movie doesn't have to be just like the book!" and that I'm overreacting when they change something stupid and it annoys me. Now, personally I think I'm pretty relaxed when it comes to movie changes I don't think Superman: Doomsday butchered the plot of a graphic novel, but rather told a lovely alternate version of that story. Same for the DCU animated series from the past ten or fifteen years, the last two X-men cartoons, and the Batman Begins. (X-3, on the other hand, was like someone took a jackhammer to the X-Men mythos, but I digress). Change can be good in a good movie.

Still, I get "You're overreacting" a lot when I complain about a Hollywoodized property.

Its not often I see anything along the lines of "Maybe you're not being that melodramatic." Today I saw something like that:
However, when properly processing the aforementioned list of changes, it does seem like director David Cunningham and writer John Hodge stepped over the line. I can see the justification for a large number of the modifications (which mostly seemed geared towards increasing conflict and tension), but in total it's a pretty dramatic reinvention of the story. For one thing, instead of learning about his powers by magically absorbing the content of an ancient text, our young hero learns about "the light and the dark" by Googling it. For real.
(Googling, good god.)

Okay, so the reviewer isn't completely on our side, but she changed her mind about making fun of us. That's better than I (dyed-in-the-wool Green Lantern fan that I am) usually see. She says after that she doesn't fully empathize, but she's asking for people to share the traumatic destruction of their childhood favorites as they moved from book to film. Go share.

And as long as I'm sharing Seeker reviews, these guys are pretty mean to the movie.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Countdown 29

Oh thank you. That character has been treading on my nerves since he was introduced.

Now, can anyone tell me what the fucking point of his existence was?

Green Lantern #24 Spoilers

Dear Geoff Johns,

Its time to talk. You have a serious problem. You need help with your dialogue.

Okay, maybe your word processor deleted a few lines in that Kyle-Hal scene. (And in that exchange between Parallax and John, because John's line about staying black came out of nowhere.) But there's not excuse for Kyle's words on the last panel. I know what you intended, it didn't work.

Also, work on your timing. Just because we all know to expect several issues of action that amounts to twiddling your thumbs and then an issue where everything happens at once (well, everything happens one panel after another, but he always packs more in the issue right before the resolution than in the past year of the series, and things seem to move too fast).

Bad stuff out of the way, I liked this issue. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want Kyle free without any help, but I think the way it unfolds works nicely.

I can't express how happy I am you had Hal point out that he had help from the fucking Spectre. I was beginning to think you retconned that out, and it would be annoying. Now, I'm going to go ahead and assume Kyle's stronger since Hal needed an entity of Biblical power, the embodied wrath of God, to get him loose and Kyle just needed a pep talk.

I'm also a little annoyed that Guy was so quick with those construct shorts, but we can't have everything we hope for. I'm going to lose money on the lack of a scar, but we have two months for aftermath stories and there's a chance that Reis missed it.

Thank you for turning Kyle back to a regular Green Lantern, and thank whoever designed that new costume. (except the mask -- what is it about Kyle and masks?) I hope it has a zipper. It looks like the top is a zip-up jacket and I think it would be cool to have him standing around with the coat part unzipped and a Green Lantern T-shirt.

I look forward to the next installment.

Monday, October 08, 2007

"We never said that bad bad thing!"

Deny, deny, deny...
Hello,
Thank you for your email. The claims being made on blogs regarding Mr. Robinov, Warner Bros. and female casting decisions are untrue. Our 2008 film slate, which includes at least three motion pictures with female leads and casts, underscores our commitment to telling good stories regardless of gender.
Thank you,
Warner Bros. Customer Service
I hope they're not counting Wonder Woman, because I've seen that slated to be released in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007...

And I don't know how many movies total Warner Bros puts out per year, but three movies with women would be understandable if they only had five-seven films planned at this point. I mean, they do realize we are half the population, right? So logically, half the movies should represent us.

Also doesn't say what genre those movies are, so they could be two romantic comedies and a slasher flick while they have five ideas for action and scifi thrillers starring men right next to them which still means they're doing a shityy job but hey, three whole movies of indeterminate genre with women in them. One or two of them may actually reach theaters!

This one'll be quick because I'm short on time.

Bellatrys has been puzzling over an X-Men cover for the last couple of days, trying to figure out what makes a feminine pose and costume and what makes a masculine one. Meanwhile, and between her and Willow they've figured out precisely what's wrong with some of these cheesecake covers. First, take a look at the original cover, and the three remixes Bellatrys made. Now Willow's comment on the Xena one:
Personally I'm very surprised that my first thought on the Xena one was get up. The spine's the same, the ass up is the same - though it's covered. Maybe it has something to do with Xeam = Strength to me.

But I don't find it gratuitous. I just go "Xena Get Up!" and worry about the bad guys and who was strong enough to do that to her.
Look at Conan and Storm again. The most prominent part of each picture is the exposed left buttcheek, there's also a good central view of her exposed back and a little bit of the side of her breast. The first thing you notice in the picture is the exposed flesh and that sets the tone of the whole image.

With Xena, her plain leather skirt covers her butt (it falls just perfectly to) and her breasts are fully covered, and the what stands out is her armor, not her flesh.

Superman is drawn the way his costume normally is, covered up with a shiny uniform. Not particularly provocative.

Every part of a piece of art is important, because the artist is trying to set up an overall mood. Every line in the drawing needs to support that mood somehow. A piece of superhero art is supposed to evoke a sense of heroism, even when the character is flat on their face. You are supposed to look at it and be impressed with what knocked them down, and ready to see them stand up in the next panel. That's what a cover image should be. Its supposed to make you want to pick up the book and look inside to see who they're fighting and how they kick the bad guy's ass after being thrown so badly.

When an artist focuses too much on making the subject of the piece look sexy, as Larocca (arguably) did with Storm and Bellatrys did (purposefully) with Conan by put so much attention on bare flesh, they destroy that. If the viewer's eye is first draw to a titallating image of a character's butt and thigh, you've lost the chance to make them worried about anything other sex. The viewer is not thinking about how the character got to be face-down on the ground, the viewer is focusing on the character's butt. The viewer is not anticipating that this character will crawl to their feet and punch the bad guy in the face, the viewer is thinking about the possibility of even more exposed flesh. Its not a matter of femininity or masculinity so much as sexualization period here.

This is one of those points that subjective, some people might not think that Storm in particular is a distracting amount of skin (comparatively, it doesn't seem like a lot except that her butt is the focal point of the cover) and its certainly not the worst cheesecake I've ever seen but its a good example of an artist slipping over the line and losing the desired effect. Its not just that its unnecessary, it is actually harming the overall image by screwing with the artist-viewer communication. If you go out of your way to draw cheesecake you lose a lot of the drama superhero comics are supposed to give us. Pinups are one thing, a cover scene like this is another. (Interior artwork is the worst time to be cheesecakey at all, because then you are interrupting the story itself by distracting the reader, but that's another complaint entirely.) The cover is supposed to make me want to buy the book. I'm supposed to look at that on the rack, get worried about what they'll do with Storm (granted that image makes me worry about how they're handling Storm but not in a way that makes me want to see what they're doing to her) so that I'll pick it up to see who tossed her and how she gets back on her feet.

The bottom line is that in a visual medium too much sexy can hurt the story. Artists need to be more thoughtful about what they put in an image.

Ahh, here we go.

ETA #2: Email form (Thank you, FSF Blog commenter who is smarter than I am)

ETA: Dave suggested this one:
Alan Horn, President, Warner Bros Entertainment
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522


I looked all over the Warner Bros studio site last night, but my searches are being sabotaged with references to the movie Contact so I couldn't find an address, email or phone number.

Today I tried the parent company. I'm not sure what names specifically to address it to.
Time Warner Inc.
One Time Warner Center
New York, NY10019-8016
Phone 212.4848000
And Warner Bros Entertainment on the Time-Warner site turns up this:
Susan Fleishman
Phone 818.954.1919

Corporate Communications Office
Phone 818.954.7304
If anyone is better investigator, please tell me what you turn up.

Addendum: We all know how this will play out.

Last post I was irritated but not willing to commit to my irritation.

I'm willing to commit to being pissed off now, and not because this has been confirmed.

I'm willing to commit to being pissed off because tomorrow the business week starts and we'll see Warner Bros. PR react to this. They will issue a statement that no such thing was said, and the three anonymous producers who "confirmed" the story are not likely to pop out of nowhere and contradict that. There will be nothing written anywhere that states this is the policy, because we all know how the world works. Nobody needs to write sexism into the rules (nobody needs to voice it either, so there's still a good possibility he never actually said it), the boy's club all act on it anyway. So, WB will get to play the victim of "baseless allegations of sexism" and nothing will change.

Which means we'll still see little to no attention given to action movies with female leads.

We'll see almost no female superhero movies, except for the sort that emphasize looking down the main character's spandex without a thought for quality.

Wonder Woman will still be consigned to Development Tartarus.

See, Mickle has a point in her comment. We all know that's their line of thinking. We all know every time a female-led action film doesn't do very well they lump the blame on the fact that it was led by a woman and become that much less likely to make a female-led action film. We know they judge actresses for bust size and low bodyfat rather than muscles and presence when casting female superheroes. We've seen it, its the behavior pattern, we all know how the fucking industry works.

Then we get this vague rumor of a comment that we've heard a million times, only now its attributed to a name so we can finally point and say "Gotcha!" and now we talk boycott and letter campaign and tomorrow they're going to deny the whole fucking thing and play everyone tht's mad up as a bad guy.

Maybe we'll get lucky, maybe they'll say he said it and apologize. You think he'll be sacked? Maybe. Then some other guy'll take over and enforce the same fucking policy and just not say anything about it.

Fuck that, we need progress not apologies. Its not good enough they won't say this shit, we need them to stop acting on this shit and in order to do that we need to convince them to stop thinking this shit.

Well, fuck that. You want to confront Robinov or one of his idiot colleagues? Chuck the "You said a bad bad thing" shit out the window. Confront him with the half-assed job they did with Catwoman. Confront him with the shitty ratio of female-led action movies to male led action movies and then when he says that female-led action movies don't sell confront him with the shitty effort put towards those female-led action movies and how male-led action movies with shitty effort put into them don't succeed either, and that more male-led action movies flop than female-led action moves anyway -- because there's just more of them!!

You want a boycott of Warner Bros? Do it with an aim. To hell with that stupid statement! They'll apologize at best and deny it at worst and never change a fucking thing. Give a real goal. Tell them you won't see a Warner Bros movie until they get off their asses and film Wonder Woman! Tell them you want as much quality put into films with women as put into films with men! Tell them you want a big-budget film with a female lead! Tell them you want to see some progress, dammit!!!

Eh.

Okay, that sounded great in my head but now that I have it written down it seems so futile. Various people have been sending that message for a while. Articles and studies and letters. Rational argument hasn't worked before. Maybe its because we haven't had any good fuel beneath it. This could be good fuel. Obviously, enough people have seized on it that it speaks to something people are pissed off about. Maybe we can combine outrage with a productive goal here. If we all shout "You said something bad!" they learn that what they said was a bad thing to say. They'll keep on doing what they do, just with their mouths shut. If we all shout "You need to do THIS" maybe, just maybe they'll realize they need to do that.

Maybe all it'll do is make us feel better. (Which is worthwhile in itself, but will lead to feeling like shit when The Dark Knight comes out and we all have to decide whether or not seeing a Warner Bros movie is worth it after this.)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I'm not flying off the handle... Yet...

(Via) From Newsarama:
According to LA Weekly’s Nikki Finke, Warners isn’t interested in making films with female leads. Her source? Warner Bros president of production Jeff Robinov who Finke quotes (through three sources) as saying: "We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead." Finke said that Robinov's sentiment/statement was confirmed by three producers
Original source here. Finke doesn't name the producers, just says there are three people verifying it.

Okay, maybe I'm flying off the handle just a bit. Kalinara is trying to talk me out of titling this post "Fuck you, Warner Bros."

A quick search on GoogleNews brings this article to light, which still pisses me off to no avail. Assuming the producer in question really is this much of a moron:
On a purely business level, though, if Robinov's declaration is more along the lines of "We are no longer doing action movies with women in the lead"... I'm afraid he's entirely justified. This isn't because a woman can't carry an action movie, but a acknowledgment of the deeply shitty reality that there isn't a single filmmaker or producer in town who knows how to develop an femme-led action movie that plays to the male quadrant (television is a completely different ballgame).

And it's a failure of imagination, really. In a way, I'd much rather see Jessica Biel as a former Navy SEAL assigned to track down terrorists threatening to blow up the Anheuser-Busch brewery. But no studio would ever greenlight Biel in a role developed for, say, Mark Wahlberg because they'd first call up the respectable grosses Underworld, Kill Bill and the Resident Evil movies, and, then, contrast those numbers with the not-so-good returns for Elektra, Aeon Flux, Domino, Catwoman, Ultraviolet, Point of No Return and, for the hell of it, V.I. Warshawski. And then they'd conclude that the risk is too high for the modest-at-best reward.


It sounds like they're using the logic that since Catwoman fucked up they don't want a female action lead because they assume all female pictures will suck. To which I'd suggest that maybe if they put more effort into making a female-lead movie work, like say a decent script, some dedication to the source material, and a good director rather than just assuming that big boobs will work box office magic they might find that female-led pictures would make more money.

Interestingly enough, CHUD above suggests that they know this, but might not willing to dedicate the necessary resources to a female-led movie because its a female led movie -- the logic of which pisses me off as much as the original unverified quote.