Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Watching the detectives

Fan reactions to the fast-approaching Spirit movie seem pretty uniform to me: it's more Sin City than Will Eisner.

It makes me wonder: isn't Frank Miller's style really better-suited to Dick Tracy? Likewise, what if Warren Beatty had made a Spirit movie instead of Tracy? (A commenter on this YouTube version of the Tracy trailer wants a crossover.)

Granted, Beatty's Dick Tracy was only about "bringing a comic strip to life" as far as it involved garish art direction and broad acting. Beatty would have had to appreciate the way Eisner used a comics page, and somehow translated that to a static frame for moving pictures. In a way, I suppose the Sin City movie, with its uber-faithful recreation of Miller's work, tried to do just that.

And you know, I ask "what if Warren Beatty...?," but really, a Warren Beatty Spirit isn't my first choice, because I wasn't that thrilled with Dick Tracy and I doubt his comics sensibilities have been tuned any finer in the past eighteen years. I guess I'm asking why Frank Miller has apparently abandoned The Spirit's nominally graceful, light attitude -- and that may be asking why Frank didn't just adapt Sugar & Spike; or why no director has staged a Batman-movie fight around a giant typewriter. The medium has limitations, and the audience has expectations.

I still think Miller's a better fit for Dick Tracy, though....


Brian Doan said...

Actually, I think Warren Beatty on THE SPIRIT is a great idea-- I haven't seen DICK TRACY since it was first released, but watching that trailer again, I was struck by its witty tone, bright color and use of shadow, and think all of that would make a much more interesting SPIRIT movie than the one we're about to get.

Bill Reed said...

Hmm, really? Dick Tracy's one of my favorite comic movies, precisely because of the "garish" art direction, bright colors, and general sense of a Sunday strip slapped onto celluloid.