Today’s blog is a bit of fun. There’s lots going on in the world of my writing at the moment. Publishing contracts have been signed. Orifice is currently being processed and will soon be available on Amazon and other online retailers. And work continues on the many projects that have not yet seen the light of day.
But sometimes it’s good to forget the pressures of all that and remind oneself about why you’re really here, which, at least for me, is because I love the world of fantasy and science fiction.
As a Graphic-Horror writer I’ve talked a lot about my comic-book influences, and now here is my pick of 4 favourite comic-book movie adaptations. See if you agree with my list!
‘What’s your price?’
‘Two million credits.’
‘Two millions credits for one Judge?’
‘Do you know who this Judge is?’
‘I do. Two million credits.’
While this film did not achieve the financial box-office success necessary to secure it a sequel, many fans of 2000AD’s grim-jawed Judge Dredd were delighted by the modern adaptation which remained far truer to the spirit of the original comic. Karl Urban perfectly captures the bleak existentialism of the character whilst also bringing out the moments of dark humour for which the great Joe Dredd is famous.
Understated, ultra-violent and intensely suspenseful, with striking performances from the supporting cast (including Games of Thrones’ Lena Headley), Dredd was a triumphant piece of cinema that brought the terrifying world of MegaCity 1 to life.
2. V FOR VENDETTA
‘Why won’t you die?’
‘Behind this mask is more than flesh. Behind this mask is an idea, Mr Creedy. And ideas are bulletproof.’
I’ll start by saying I am aware the film is in many respects radically different from the original Alan Moore graphic novel, but it is precisely because of this I think it is so successful an adaptation. From the use of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture to the addition of the final Ned Kelly set-piece in which V confronts Creedy and the elite gunmen armed only with knives, V for Vendetta demonstrates that sometimes it is more about capturing the spirit of a piece than re-telling it shot for shot. I love the original graphic novel, with its labyrinthine intrigue and psychotic imagery (the burning dolls haunt me still *shudders*), but I feel like the film brings out the unique heroism of the story without compromising on the darkness.
Hugo Weaving inhabits V and brings depths of humanity to the character that are arguably less apparent in Alan Moore’s original; in the graphic novel, V remains mysterious, borderline impenetrable, for much of the narrative, with only the briefest glimpses of who he was or might still be beneath the mask. Weaving’s interpretation is softer, but no less insane, making us feel remorse for him despite his bloodthirsty actions. A masterpiece that will shake you.
3. BATMAN (Tim Burton)
‘Say kid, you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?’
I love Christopher Nolan’s adaptation of the Batman series, especially Batman Begins, which I regard as the greatest of his trilogy. Having said that, the original Tim Burton movie has a certain magic to it that poor effects and time have been unable to dull. Jack Nicholson gives a wonderfully bizarre interpretation of the Joker which I believe is no less disturbing than Heath Ledger’s, only that it is subtler and harder to pin down. He is manic, mercurial, but also, beneath the veneer of madness, completely determined. What makes the performance so engrossing is that at times he seemingly cannot suppress his humour: he is ready to take huge risks just to crack a joke (‘Where does he get those toys from?’). And that’s the Joker through and through.
Michael Keaton shines as an understated, courageous Batman. He is not as muscle-bound or athletic as Christian Bale, but he is convincing as a skilful fighter who would rather use the shadows and fear to defeat his enemies than brawn. The Danny Elfman music, the relentlessly inventive scenes, the fantastically convincing yet still comic-book script, and the ingeniously conceived denouement make this a classic that still has mileage over thirty years on.
4. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
‘That was my favourite knife…’
There have been so many comic-book adaptations in recent years, most of them part of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) that one of the films on this list had to be a Marvel title.But Guardians of the Galaxy felt like a unique entry into the MCU because it’s focus was on humour and character development, with the plot to destroy an entire planet coming secondary. In addition, the more obscure nature of the Guardians of the Galaxy meant that the film came across as fresh (as opposed to yet another Spider-Man reboot) and gave the directors and writers more flexibility to play with the characters and settings.
At the heart of Guardians of the Galaxy is a love of science fiction and fantasy movies; there are echoes of Han Solo in Starlord, of Treebeard in Groot, and Drax the Destroyer, with his relentlessly hilarious literalism, feels like he belongs in The Princess Bride. But despite these evident influences all the characters feel unique and very much of their own universe. The classic 70s soundtrack to the film is another huge part of its success, but not just because the songs are nostalgic greats. The music is used in such a way it reflects the action. the character’s feelings and tells us the story. What is perhaps most successful about Guardians of the Galaxy is it gives us just enough pathos to let us know it’s not all about laughs, and because these moments of pathos are rare, they stand out and hit with much greater impact. Guardians is a modern film but made with classic sensibilities, showing us there is still lots to be learned from the past.
So that’s my 4 – what do you think? There are some choices I have deliberately left off such as Deadpool, because I saw that film far too recently and therefore can’t make a judgement yet as to whether it’s in my top list. Let me know what you think should be added to this list or what your top four are!
As always, thanks for reading!