Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Call For Movie Thrillers

Some official-looking casting news for several of the lead roles in the Watchmen movie were announced/confirmed today:

1) Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach

2) Billy Crudup as Doctor Manhattan

3) Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II

4) Matthew Goode as Ozymandias

5) Patrick Wilson as Night Owl II

6) Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian

I don't know enough about any of those actors to have any sort of reaction beyond, "Well, they're certainly not loading the movie down with big names!" and "I hope they're up to the job!"

But thinking about this put my mind down the path of how much more information comes out now about movies, even before they begin filming, compared to even fifteen or twenty years ago! While we still have the odd exceptional case like "Cloverfield 1-8-08", the vast majority of releases get covered to death in the months and sometimes even years leading up to their debut. And that wasn't always the way.

I've railed in recent years against trailers for comedies (or even dramadies) that give away all the best lines before the launch date! Then there're the suspense yarns where you're pretty sure you know at least the first half of the plot just from the trailers alone, which I always hate. I guess, because they keep doing it, that strategy must work to pull people into the theatre. But it also devalues the experience of actually seeing the movie for the first time and hearing the great jokes or seeing the story unfold in context. By contrast - and I can't remember where I saw this done - occasionally trailers will actually show scenes that aren't in the film, but which feature its characters and perfectly communicate the feel of the story. That's an intriguing idea.

Which lead me to think about how easy that would be to do for Watchmen. With 12 issues of plot, characterization and mood, totaling something like 400 pages, there are clearly going to be lots of parts excised, either at the screenplay stage, or on the proverbial cutting room floor. What I'd love to see Zack Snyder and group do is figure out a few emblematic scenes that they don't believe will be in the final product, and go ahead and shoot them anyway, specifically for usage in a trailer! (With as much green screen work as I suspect they'll be doing, it's not like this would have to be ridiculously expensive.) For those who know the comic, imagine if any of the following vignettes weren't going to be in the movie but instead were used in ads leading up to the release date:

1) The flashback scene from the period just prior to the Keene Act (banning vigilantes) getting passed, when Night Owl and the Comedian are dealing with the angry crowds of American civilians, and Night Owl asks, "Whatever happened to the American Dream?" to which the Comedian sagely replies, "What happened to it?? It came true! You're lookin' at it!"

2) The image of a giant, 100-ft tall Doctor Manhattan strolling through the rice paddies of Vietnam, in the late 60s, pointing his finger and bursting Viet Cong into flame on the ground below him, or the Comedian getting his face slashed by the Vietnamese girl he's impregnated (although that's more likely to be in the finished product, as explanation for his ugly scar).

3) Rorschach interrogating the riff raff in the bar, breaking someone's finger each time he believes they've lied to him.

4) Some sort of montage from Mars, where Doctor Manhattan sits, holding the picture of him (as Jon Osterman) and Janey Slater from the Fair, and lets the picture fall to the red dust at his feet. This could be done really well, where the action flows forwards and backwards, photo falling and then returning to his fingers as we see scenes from his early days.

Any one of those would make for an absolutely thrilling teaser for the movie, providing a good idea of what it's going to be like in terms of plot and tone, without actually giving anything away. And fans would not only go to see it in the theatre, but be desperate to own the DVD as well, so they'd have that "extra scene" that was in the trailer (before they knew it wasn't in the film). That's what I'd love to see... (you listening, Zack Snyder?)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

here's a site that keeps track of all the cloverfield rumors: