Monthly Archives: April 2006

Satan Incarnate

Thinking about actors that could play Satan in Paradise Lost, the best choice would probably be Paul Bettany:

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Sure, he’s playing nothing but baddies this year (Firewall, The DaVinci Code) but it looks like, unfortunately, he won’t be playing the Joker in Nolan’s next Batman film, so he won’t have to be both the Clown Prince of Crime and Darkness.

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Bettany in Joker suit, kidnapping Jennifer
Connelly from the premiere of Wimbledon,
starring the Batgirl

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Bettany in Satan suit

Then Rufus Sewell sprung to mind, the hero of Dark City and subsequent professional bad guy. My first thought was that he’s played sinister too often recently (Bless the Child, A Knight’s Tale, Helen of Troy, Legend of Zorro) and is too easy to dislike.

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Though he’s got the perfect look (middle-age yet totally wrinkle-free) it would be a bit of typecasting. But then I looked at his name again and saw it backwards:

LLEWES SUFUR

Holy. Crap. Was this guy born to play the Prince of Darkness?

A quick check at IMDB reveals that, yes, “Rufus Sewell” is in fact his birth name.

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“Lucifer” on his infernal throne

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PARADISE REGAINED DIRECTOR

I know this news is a bit old, but the longer I think about the director of Emily Rose being hired to helm the announced adaptaion of Paradise Lost, the less cynical I’m becoming.

My initial reaction six months ago was that it would be impossible for this to succeed in any artistic way that retains any integrity of the source. Since the poem is basically 10,565 lines of long theological speeches, this movie will make Troy (which I actually liked though most didn’t) look like a word-for-word transliteration, and its best hope is to be a fascinating disaster.

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Perfectly healthy, perfectly normal: Francis Hayman’s illustration of Satan, his self-conceived daughter and lover Sin, and their offspring Death.

But nobody knows if Phil DiBlasi and Byron Willinger’s screenplay focuses primarily on Adam and Eve cavorting in Eden and the human Fall (bor-ing!), or on the sensational bits leading up to the Satanic Fall (potentially very hokey or very cool). In my opinion the only way to make it cinematically interesting is to make the human plot secondary and focus on the angels and the War in Heaven. It has to gung-ho be as over-the-top as Book VI really is. That part might be cool to see on screen, if done without crappy Dogma-style wings (however, the character Angel in X3 seems a good precedent for credible wings).

By the way, on a practical note, does anybody yet know if this is going to be live action or traditional animation or 3D animation or rotoscoping (a la A Scanner Darkly)? At the moment the closest thing to Paradise Lost on screen is the opening flashback in The Two Towers, when Gandalf is fighting the Balrog while both are falling, then there’s that very wide-angle shot of them falling into a giant cavern. It’s a perfect image of the opening lines of Paradise Lost which describe Satan “hurled headlong, flaming from th’ ethereal sky, with hideous ruin and combustion down to bottomless perdition, there to dwell in adamantine chains and penal fire”!

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As for the news, the hiring of Derrickson suggests to me that this adaptation will have plenty of the cool supernatural elements, so that is a good thing. I haven’t seen Hellraiser: Inferno, but I assume it means Derrickson has experience with imaginative visuals of a supernatural and demonic nature (Emily Rose was fairly light on those counts).

More interestingly, the prospect of a Christian director means there is the possibility he actually understands the source material on its own terms and won’t be preoccupied trying to reinterpret the story for our times or something (e.g. Paradise Lost: Opera Electronica — yes, I saw it in 2004).

Also, his filmography of three horror-genre movies means Derrickson is unlikely to make Satan the “hero” of the story as the poem is often interpreted. That said, I’m sure he will make Satan at least sympathetic — as did Milton, who even gave him credible arguments against his various opponents — because otherwise Satan would be neither believable nor threatening.

Danger Girl on the Screen?

Did you know that Abbey Chase, star of J. Scott Campbell's comic book Danger Girl, has already been in theaters?
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Well, at least in name.

Tonight while my flatmates were watching National Treasure — the American history version of The DaVinci Code — in an Indiana Jones adventure — I was surprised to hear the name of Nic Cage's obligatory female sidekick, Diane Kruger's character:

Abigail Chase.

Coincidence? DG's most obvious influences are James Bond and Indiana Jones, which seem reflected in the character of Deuce, the Dangerl Girls' mentor and lookalike of Sean Connery who is the common factor of both movie franchises. And not only do both Danger Girl and National Treasure feature archeologically oriented adventures, but Abbey is the actual archeologist of the bunch, like Abigail is a historian at the National Archives.

So, though Diane Kruger's character is significantly less independent and sexy than JSC's, this still seems suspicious to me as a case of outright name-stealing.

SILENT HILL

I really enjoyed watching Silent Hill largely because I didn't have any prior knowledge of the video games and I hadn't even seen the trailer, so I will attempt to pass on the favor by not telling you anything substantive about the premise or plot in the next few sentences.

The only thing I'd seen about Silent Hill was a 15-second TV advert that made it look like a nice atmospheric suspense movie instead of belonging to the slasher/torture genre that I probably wouldn't enjoy (Saw, Wolf Creek, Hostel, what have you), so when my flatmate expressed the need to see this on opening day, I offered to join him. On the way to the theater I learned it was based on a video game (in fact the only game to give my flatmate's brother nightmares) which might have lowered my expectations and mollified my criticalness, but so be it.

In the first few minutes I was surprised to discover it actually boasts recognisable actors, in the forms of Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire, Melinda & Melinda) and Sean Bean, and one of those unknown to me, Laurie Holden, quickly became my favorite cop since HiPs, the 1989 Energizer Bunny ad spoofing CHiPs. The acting is nothing special, but in a movie like this dialogue is usually a method of communication rather than the main attraction, so who really cares?

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Initially, Mitchell does her best impression of fellow aussie Naomi Watts while exploring the ghost town of Silent Hill, but the sudden emergence of a few grotesque figures evocative of Dante's Inferno made me realise this was going to be more than another Ring retread. Admittedly, there are elements in common with "J-horror" since the game was created by Japenese designers, but this is decidedly not another tepid offering of PG-13 kiddie horror. Though it begins relatively benign, each subseqent encounter with evil escalates in intensity until finally all hell breaks loose. If you don't have an "I can't believe I just saw that" reaction or two by movie's end, you might not be human.

Along with his subject, I knew nothing of French director Christophe Gans. I missed his last movie, Brotherhood of the Wolf, which is now five years old but his relative lack of product wasn't reflected in a lack of vision for Silent Hill. The art direction, production design, costume design, and make-up in particular, were collectively top-notch, making the world and its macabre inhabitants at once repulsive and irresistible.

The fun for me was knowing nothing and — both during the movie and afterwards — trying to figure out exactly what the nature of Silent Hill is, and in the end I found the movie a provocative addition to the supernatural genre despite a few cliches and what I thought were unsatisfactory explanations. Having read a bit about the game since coming home, however, what I considered flaws in the revelations near movie's end do seem to be consistent with the game, and their seeming incoherence to me might be due to their being influenced by Eastern mythology.

Still, despite its tendency for over-explaining, the movie ironically left enough gaps for me to develop a personal interpretion to my satisfaction. So if anyone does see it, I'd love to bounce my reading off you. I recommend it unless you don't want to see any kind of gore (brief though it is).

Star Wars done better than Lucas

This is actually more exciting and creative than the lightsaber duels in both Episodes II and III. When it was over I realized my toes were curled! One of the kids who made this supposedly got hired by Lucasfilm doing special effects but I don't know if that's legit or not.

My Idea Sees Publication

A couple months ago I mashed-up Simone Bianchi's covers of April's Detective Comics #818 and May's Batman #653 to produce the following image of Two-Face:

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Today Newsarama reported that Detective #818 is going back to press with a new cover that combines covers of the above two issues, and provided an image of the result:

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As you can see, they cheated a bit by shrinking the Two-Face half of the image just enough to make the two halves fit each other better. Otherwise, I'd say I still did a pretty decent job when compared to the professional version.

JACK BAUER, the Spectacular Spider-Man

From September 1987:

Spectacular #130

I wonder if the issue was divided into one hour per page.

Kirsten Dunst Becomes Ultimate Villain!

What on earth is Sofia Coppola thinking/smoking? Let Them Eat Cake as hip, teen rom com? Does anyone know if the pop music is just for the trailer or is it really going to be like A Knight’s Tale all through?

It’s either going to be a genre-bending masterpiece in which Sofia manages to have her cake and eat it to, or else a cosmic singularity of bad taste that will probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. Because if pebbly toothed Kirsten Dunst behaving like a princess doesn’t make you want to kill rich people for tolerating her, nothing does.

In case you’re not yet aware, the origin of KD’s frighteningly tiny pebble teeth has been discovered. No wonder she was cast in Interview with the Vampire! But when are they going to fall out so her adult (vampire) teeth can grow in?

Thank goodness Gwen Stacy will be in Spidey 3 to bring Tobey to his senses (at least) if not precipitate a red-headed casualty (at best).

Bullpen Surveillance

Chris of 2 Guys surreptitiously recorded a recent Quesada-Bendis-Millar-Brubaker meeting at Marvel. The transcript is, I have to say, exactly what we suspected.

I keep wondering why I don't buy any Marvel comics but as long as Quesada stays in thrall to the Bendis-Millar-industrial complex, I don't expect anything to change. It's one thing for a few writers to shape the direction of a universe like at DC, but for only one or two minds to be basically in control of the Marvel Universe for several years now, while insuring a kind of continuity, doesn't give the readers much diversity. I mean, even the Kubert brothers bailed!

Oh well, it's DC's gain, as usual. Looking up at my shelf of TPBs I've bought in the last six months, I count 29 DC or Vertigo books and 4 by Marvel. To the quality goes the spoils.