deer_mews: (Default)
[personal profile] deer_mews
So I saw Wanted today, the movie based on the comics by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones. I went in expecting to be disappointed, and, surprisingly, I wasn't.

...

Actually, that's not totally accurate. Let me start over.



They totally Starship Trooper-ed me. Way back in 1997, I had tried to keep myself spoiler-free, so I was devastated by the unforgivable treatment of one of my favorite childhood books. See, if the movie had been called Frickin Alien Space Opera with BFG's, I woulda been a happy camper. As it was, there were a few characters with the same names, a couple of aliens, and one or two scenes pulled from the book and grafted onto a completely different (acceptable, but different) story.

Trying to reconcile Starship Troopers and the movie of the same name left a taste so bad in my mouth that (more than ten years later) I have yet to be able to re-watch what I can objectively describe as a "movie I probably could have liked, even if it didn't have the fricking mechanical armor, which was a major focus of the book". Realistically, I can even admit that the book and the movie had the same main points -- aliens bad, humans good, boy grows up, totally awesome things happen. Space Commandos? Sure. Starship Troopers? Not by a long shot.

Luckily, that and a few other such happenings were enough to convince me that I needed to see movies like this with plenty of foreknowledge. I watched the previews and the trailers for Wanted. I couldn't quite believe that they were going to do what it looked like they were going to do, but at least I knew it wasn't going to be exactly the same as the comic book.

...

So I saw Wanted today, the movie with the same name as the comics by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones. I went in expecting to be disappointed, but, as usual, I was also foolishly optimistic. Luckily for me, both my cynicism and romanticism were rewarded, leaving me excited, amused, pissed off, and with a crick in my neck.

See, if this movie had been called Assassin's Quest or something like that, I woulda been an ecstatic overnight backpacker. As it was, there were a few characters with the same names, a couple of really bad guys, and one or two scenes pulled from the book and grafted onto a completely different story IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WORLD. Here's the kicker, though. From any angle, the main theme/message/moral of the movie seems to me to be the exact opposite of that in the comic.

Wesley Gibson is a completely unremarkable schlub with a barely acceptable life. That takes about one sentence to sum up, an incredibly well-paced and well-stated five-to-ten pages to tell in the comic (not exact because my copy is currently lent out), and a seemingly interminable time in the movie. That all changes when the father he never knew is killed and a mysterious woman named Fox comes to tell him that a world he never knew existed is now his for the taking.

Two paths diverged in the story wood, and something-something silly movie violence ensues, and that made all the difference. The movie is full of gratuitous violence and hardware, some preaching, and some very, very silly directing. That's ok, except the source material is full of lots of violence (very little of which feels gratuitous), gratuitous hardware, some random navel-gazing, and some very, very funny bits. The book also punches you in the gut, for laughs, especially at the end; the movie sucker-punches you in the cliches more than a few times throughout...

Had I gone in expecting a great adaptation of a book I very much enjoyed, I would have left about a third of the way through. Had I gone in expecting a great summer blockbuster action title, I would have laughed the entire way and had a great time. Because I hoped for both, and expected neither, I found myself analyzing things way too much, which is not the way to approach a movie like this.

For the most part, the casting worked pretty well. The secondary characters show well. The two main characters are almost spot-on. Angelina Jolie brings just the right amount of cynicism and attitude to Fox. Other than one big problem, and a few bouts of immature-feeling acting (or perhaps just poor directing or editing), James McAvoy (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Children of Dune) does a great job of playing both Wesley the Schlub and Wesley the Killer. The biggest problem, which both my friend and I had the entire movie, was that every now and then, we found ourselves thinking, "Wait, that's not Shia LaBeouf..." (This wasn't helped by the trailer for Eagle Eye.) Nor is it Tobey Maguire, who seems to come through strongly in a few of McAvoy's more emotive moments. This confusion, this identity crisis, seems to pervade every single moment of the film.

The "magic powers" that some of the characters wield seem to fluctuate wildly between "so crazy you just have to believe," and "so ridiculous they're just silly," with the director never seeming to decide whether to portray them as "magic" or as "nearly impossible, but believable," and the movie suffers as a result.

Oh, the crick in my neck that bit with a savage fury during the last 15 minutes? It could have been because I was sitting in the same position for too long, a sign of a movie that has successfully held my interest. I have a feeling, however, that it was from being jerked through too many left turns, just when I was expecting things to go right.

I completely understand the argument one of my other friends made -- any major studio would have been afraid of making the comic the way it was written, and parts of the comic and movie were probably developed at the same time, making exact replication impossible anyway. Great. Destiny Killers? Sure! Wanted? Oh. Heck. No.

In the end, though, this movie still gets a positive review. If you haven't read the comic but like adrenaline-pumping action and silly summer movies with lots of violence, go see it, THEN go pick up a copy of the graphic novel. If you've already read and enjoyed the comic, then don't go see Wanted -- it'll just confuse you -- instead, go see the movie I saw today. I think I'll call it Gun Fu: The Way of the Assassin...

(3.5 out of 5)

Profile

deer_mews: (Default)
deer_mews

November 2009

S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
151617 18192021
22232425262728
2930     

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags