Thursday, June 23, 2005

Cartoon Action Heroes

I was busy seeing quite a few movies the last few days before the cinematic marathon known as the Frameline Festival. The last three films I saw in the "outside world" were in the style of comic books, even when done as live-action rather than animation.

I've already written about how I think that George Lucas missed the opportunity to write not just a great science-fiction comic book, but a great science-fiction epic. His bumbling turned what could have been a masterpiece for all time into a highly profitable bit of pulp. I mourn for the Star Wars that could have been.

A few days ago, I went to see The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, a mix of live-action and animation, with much of the action in 3-D. On one level, it was a simple children's film; indeed, the director's son shares in the writing credits. However, the story has some more sophisticated undercurrents beneath the superficial coolness of 3-D. At its core, the message was, dream something better and then work to make it real. Especially telling was that the title characters' superhero powers were entirely the product of a real child's imagination, and they also mirrored his own insecurities.

Just before the Frameline film festival started, I went to see Batman Begins. I was most impressed by the fact that this movie steered away from the simple cardboard cutout, black-and-white, good-and-evil imagery of so many film productions of comic-book stories. Neither the good guys nor the bad guys had one-dimensional motivations. Of course, it was also a well-made action film.