Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Chris Nolan wraps up his Batman trilogy with the release of Dark Knight Rises this last week. Nolan does usual justice to his finale by weaving a multi-threaded tale that pits newcomer terrorist, Bain, against Gotham's Caped Crusader. Throughout the film, Nolan reveals background details that cleverly frame the culminating final scenes of the movie. I can't describe too much of the movie without giving away spoiler details, so I will simply say who/what I thought worked, and what didn't:
Bale was much better this time around than in Dark Knight. He really toned down his verbal performance, most notably in his delivery of Batman's gravelly voice. In DK, it seemed like he was spitting out his lines, perhaps feeling a little upstaged by Heath Ledger's Joker. But there was a restraint in his delivery this time that actually blended well with a Bat coming out of an 8-year, self-imposed retirement.
I have to admit, I was really skeptical about Hathaway as Selena Kyle going in, but she made it work. There was a cool quirkiness to her rendition of Catwoman. And kudos to Nolan for really removing the feline caricature—the problem with previous big screen portrayals—in his script. It enabled Hathaway to execute Kyle with more depth and needed subtlety.
The role of Bain was handily executed by Hardy. It must have taken hours of gym dedication to get his back and torso in shape for this movie. And Hardy doesn't disappoint in his delivery of the super villain, although some comic enthusiasts might suffer some let down if they go in expecting a 3-D, effects-altered physique. Occasionally, Bain's words are a little difficult to understand through his face mask, but overall, he brings a memorable personality to a calm, matter-of-fact psychopath.
Caine's Alfred shows a flare of emotion not seen in previous Batman installments. It allows us to see the butler in a more human light, a dimension of Alfred Pennyworth not seen in past incarnations (no disrespect to the late Michael Gough). Although we don't see too much of Alfred in this final installment, his delivery gives a lot of weight to this supporting role, reminding us that Bruce Wayne does have family.
It seems almost part and parcel: if you go to a Nolan film, expect a looooong sit. Fortunately he does an exemplary job of entertaining with a well-crafted story, but even the most accommodating bladder has its limits. This would be my only knock to DKR. There is a powerful march and rhythm to Nolan's films that takes you on an ever-upward roller coaster ride, with tense music always as the backdrop. Sometimes when it is drawn-out too long, the viewer can tire (at least I do—think of how you felt emotionally spent after DK and Inception). To his credit, Nolan does a fine job of tossing in a few valleys here and there to gives us a few respites before the culminating scenes, but 2-hours and 45 minutes is a long haul no matter how you slice it. So prepare mentally for a great movie, but go in knowing it will be a marathon. And do yourself a favor: hit the restroom before the show and sip your soda slowly and prudently. "A"
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Above is this week's Incompatibles and below is a blueline sheet of the rain dancer. You can see that I was messing around with the different expressions he could make while doing his groove thang. I polled my family on this and they were split, so I finally went with my gut and chose the version of the guy with tightly shut eyes, biting down on his lip (versus puckered lips and wide-open eyes). With either pose, I just wanted to reflect his intense commitment to the artform. Sometimes edits are clear-cut black and white. Sometimes they are good-better-best. And sometimes they are just personal preference. This edit was the latter of the three.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
A little play sketch of an Indian brave doing some funky chicken wing move (what's the name of this dance move???). I've been doodling the facial expression and body position of this character this evening. He's going to be the focal point in my next Incompatibles panel. This is a quick ditty using my new Pentel water brush. Love it.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Here's this week's Incompatibles installment. Above you can see the initial drawing before cleanup and coloring. I knew I'd be cropping the action on this, so I left it unfinished on the outskirts. In hindsight, I made his shirt a little too drapey, especially on his upper back. I think I got too happy crosshatching folds, that happens sometimes. I am happy with his overall pose and expression, though, particularly his left hand. It has that nice "throes of death" look about it. The fine balance here was not going too overboard on the blue in his lips and eyes. I wanted him to look just about expired.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Saw this little gem while running errands around town this morning.
Also, I picked up a Pentel Aquash Waterbrush today. I couldn't seem to find it at the local art stores, but Hobby Lobby carried it. I love the new convenience of watercolor anywhere. Stay tuned for frequent posts of doodles w/ washes!
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Above is the final b&w art for "Pavlov's logs," and below is the completed panel. The finished cartoon is actually a re-edited version of what I thought was final. I colorized the panel in the morning and didn't compare it to some of my previous work like I usually do. I find this practice helps me to stay consistent in color saturation. Anyway, I colored it, posted it, and went out for a morning activity. When I returned, my wife told me that the posted cartoon was too light and anemic. Coming in the door with fresh eyes, I immediately saw what she was saying. Photoshop to the rescue. I made a few edits and here is the final-final. ;)
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Was it an amazing Spiderman movie???
My answer: YES.
My answer: YES.
I recall some movie critics expressed misgivings at a revisit to Marvel's Spiderman franchise. Perhaps it was anticipated to be redundant story info, but Mark Webb, director of the newest Spidey reboot, Amazing Spiderman, has done an excellent job making trod territory seem pristine. I was never a diehard fan of Tobey Maguire as the web slinger. I'll admit, I liked him in the first movie. But as the trilogy trudged on, his depiction of Spidey really began the wear on me. This was not totally his fault; he was partly the victim in that he had to deliver an often corny script. I think I reached my limit when he bopped down the sidewalk in his venom-influenced personna in S3. They chose a good time to close the book on that series.
Since then, it's clear that Marvel has learned a bit. They've taken notes from Chris Nolan's treatment of Batman; the proof being evident in their later X-men and Avengers threads. They've learned that serious comic book characters can exist on the big screen—serious characters that can be brooding AND clever without having to echo the schmaltzy corniness of old school comic pulp. Amazing Spiderman delivers a wonderful retelling of the web slinger's tale. It works as a love story, it works as a drama/comedy, and it works as an action-packed super-hero movie. The writing is surprisingly solid and the casting is spot on.
Now I won't say there aren't a few plot-holes in the road, but the majority of the story delivers in a very satisfying way. Acting-wise Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are perfect leads. Their romance is believable and poignant. However, I think Garfield really steals the show here. He so accurately embodies Peter Parker as the gangly youth we all grew up with. At one moment he could look like an awkward teenager, then a cool super-hero—and then, hey—even a romantic leading man. The real litmus test for me was that he could cry without making me feel oogie (I still have scars from that Tobey Maguire scene in S3). There's an authenticity and sincerity I'm really digging in this new Spideyweb thread. My only disappointment is that I have to wait until 2014 for the next one! "A"
The next Incompatibles is shaping up. This is the preliminary blueline from a few days ago. I've made some changes since then: I cropped the action a little tighter to bring more emphasis to the notepad, scaled back the log/table and added an horizon line beneath the table to give a sense of the far wall. One major overhaul was the architecture of the log harness table. As you can see, the perspective is totally wonky in this posting. It's like I was schizo on the vanishing points. That's what happens when I sketch when I'm drowsy. Stay tuned for the finished cartoon on Wednesday.