People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
  Dark Knight double-dip
Like millions of humans, yesterday I picked up my copy of The Dark Knight on DVD. The movie is still amazing (I think it’ll only get better with age as the cringe-inducing hype that still surrounds the film dies away and we can just appreciate it on its own merits – I look forward to a day when Heath Ledger’s death is more of a footnote in the film’s legacy), but I’m pretty underwhelmed by the DVD’s extras.

First of all, this “digital copy included” thing has got to go as a selling point or an excuse to add another disc to a package in order to make it seem like it’s more bang for the customer’s proverbial buck. I’m not interested in watching a two-and-a-half hour crime epic on my iPod or my laptop, though I guess I appreciate the option they’re giving me to do so, especially with the growing spectre of online piracy, and I realize that some people do enjoy that sort of thing, but as an excuse to bolt an extra disc onto a release and proclaim it a “special edition” is pretty weak (no commentary and a couple of featurettes and trailers). It’s not that I had a problem with the extras that are on the two-disc Dark Knight DVD – I dug the fake talk-show segments, particularly the one with Eric Roberts, whose presence in the film is a gift that keeps on giving – but it’s pretty obvious that there’s a much more in-depth DVD of The Dark Knight coming down the pipe. Which I’m not necessarily complaining about – I’ve happily done the DVD double-dip for movies like Sin City, which director Robert Rodriguez was pretty up-front about doing more DVD editions of down the line from the get-go, which is either commendably honest or shockingly cynical, I’m not sure which. And I, like millions of others, has been patiently awaiting the long-promised Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair, which Quentin Tarantino has been promising for several years now. But the bottom like is, The Dark Knight is a pretty astounding piece of cinema, and I will happily shell out for the even-more-special edition I’m sure is coming some time in 2009 – presumably with another digital copy.

* * *
I mentioned my skepticism about Lionsgate’s new Punisher movie, Punisher: War Zone in this space not too long ago, and I checked it out last weekend. I’m happy to report my skepticism was totally unfounded, as it’s the most fun pure action movie I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s shockingly violent in all the right ways – the rocket launcher/parkour scene alone was worth the price of admission – and manages to capture the tongue-in-cheek black humour of the best recent Punisher comics. It’s too bad the movie opened pretty poorly, barely making $4 million in its first weekend. Hopefully it will find the audience it deserves on DVD (as many Lionsgate films do), because to me, Punisher: War Zone is second only to Iron Man in terms of Marvel movies in 2008. The worst movie Marvel Studios released this year was The Incredible Hulk, and that was a solid B+ in my estimation. So if you want to have a laugh at mobsters getting their faces blown off with shotguns, Punisher: War Zone is the movie for you.

* * *

This week saw the release of complete-series DVD sets for the two best televisions shows I’ve ever seen, HBO’s The Wire and Deadwood. Both are so good I want to punch someone in the face, but I personally prefer The Wire because 1) I prefer cop dramas to westerns and 2) it has an actual ending and is therefore more satisfying on the whole. And for some connective tissue between these three items, Dominic West, who plays the lead character in The Wire, is absolutely phenomenal as the villain Jigsaw in Punisher: War Zone. If Heath Ledger hadn’t changed the game up for comic book movie bad guys in Dark Knight, West would have been my pick as best movie villain of 2008, hands down.

* * *

A little bit of movie news: John Stevenson, director of the excellent animated film Kung Fu Panda (read my review here), is attached to adapt the comic book WE3 into a film. WE3 is a three-issue series by probably my two favourite comic creators working today, writer Grant Morrison (to whom I refer as a genius without hesitation) and artist Frank Quitely. The story follows three animals, a dog, a cat and a rabbit, who are the subjects of brutal government experiments aimed at creating living weapons, fusing the animals’ nervous systems with cybernetic weaponry. It’s a remarkable piece of storytelling, both incredibly violent (for a while the film was rumoured to have been “cleaned up” to be more family friendly, which couldn’t miss the point of the source material more) and utterly heartbreaking. I’m not among them but I’ve heard many people who’ve read it admit that WE3 is the only comic that has made them cry. With a talented filmmaker like Stevenson at the helm, and an apparent desire on the part of the producers to keep the material in R-rating territory, WE3 could be something pretty special.

* * *

The last thing I’ve got for today is a fulfillment of my earlier promise in this space to not miss an opportunity to talk about Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Watchmen, due in theatres in March. Apple has the three minutes of footage shown at Comicon last summer, which initially set the Internet afire with buzz. Several months (and three to four trailers) later and the footage is officially online courtesy of iTunes. Check it out here, but be warned, you must have iTunes installed on your computer to watch it. Also be warned that this movie looks totally awesome.

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A blog about movies, by a guy who probably watches too many.

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