Zero For Three
Just finished the third of a trio of DVDs passed my way late last week.
Constantine, V For Vendetta, and Tim Burton’s remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Boy, was that the kind of threesome I never want to be involved with ever again.
I had already been warned that I might not find the stories up to much, but the visuals were pretty impressive, which is what I should look out for. Which, if it was something I wanted, would either result in me meandering around a gallery or watching a half-decent porno.
I don’t really care if a film was made for hundreds of millions of dollars or just three farthings and extensive bartering. The important factor is that the story is engaging.
In my lifetime, I’ve read four Hellblazer comics. Well, I bought four. I can’t remember if I actually read them all. So I didn’t care a hot weasel’s toot that John Constantine wasn’t a bleach blonde Liverpudlian... or, whatever. The problem was I didn’t really care at all.
After sticking Constantine in the DVD player late at night, within about ten minutes I was on the computer, vaguely paying attention to what was occurring on the screen. Rachel Weisz was as reliable as ever (although it made me want to swap the disc for The Mummy), and it’s always good to see Pruitt Taylor Vince (ditto Beautiful Girls). But the film itself was just so monotone and so what. Certainly less-than-super supernatural.
By the time I decided to turn in, I checked the counter on the DVD player against the running time of the film printed on the box and found there were about twelve minutes left. Any other film I would have stayed up for the end. Instead I turned it off.
With V For Vendetta, I’d read the series of comics back in the late 1980s when they were reprinted by DC and found them more clever, at times too clever-clever, than entertaining. But then I’d already been subjected to writing essays about The State Versus The Individual in English Literature classes, which included Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Although V For Vendetta may have reversed the roles to become The Individual Versus The State (Versus The Individual), I’d had enough lectures, thank you.
It might have helped if I hadn’t fallen asleep, albeit briefly somewhere in the middle. But I doubt it. The late Adrian Biddle’s cinematography was exceptional, but the film was so badly, blandly directed. I’ve seen low budget television programmes that use the camera more inventively.
Watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was like being wheeled around an art installation. Very, very, very slowly. It was so utterly monotone that my finger was almost constantly hovering over the remote control with the urge to speed the bastard up.
And then it just ended. Without any discernable build-up to a dramatic climax, the film stopped. I’d never read the book, only seen brief clips of the earlier Gene Wilder version, and none of them made me want to see the rest.
Maybe it’s because, as a children’s film based on a children’s book, I’m not the target audience. But I’m sure that even if I had seen it as a wee kiddie I would have been left feeling unsatisfied. Then again, I don’t think I’ve seen a Tim Burton film that hasn’t irritated the shit out of me either a little or a hell of a lot. Enough with the man-child shit!
Thinking about it, one thing all the films have in common is that they’re adaptations. Which only goes to show that some material should stay on the printed page.