Tuesday, 25 May 2010

"The Losers" - Review

The Losers is one of the best comic book adaptations that I have ever seen, and full of every single great thing I love in a film, let alone in-between the pages of a Vertigo comic. The original Andy Diggle and Jock book is a superb piece of story telling, but that's not what I'm here to talk about. No. The film takes all the cues from the source material, builds on it, and changes in ways that don't make the overtly familiar viewer resent Hollywood (which was my problem with the recent A Nightmare on Elm Street remake). I enjoyed this film. I really did. I had one problem, and it was minor, so I think I'll get it out in the open first:

There was an over-reliance on slow motion, something that's been rife in film making since 300. Rife in comic book adaptations even. I blame, obviously, Zack Snyder for this. 300 just... mainlined it, and then, since, it's become overused and clichéd, and I just don't enjoy it like I should do. Sure, it did punctuate moments, such as the rocket launcher moment with Aisha near the end of the film, but the sex scene was really... shlocky. It took me out of the story. Shame.

Now, everything else.

The core cast were brilliant. Anyone who knows me knows that I adore Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and turn as Clay was brilliant. Haunted, tragic, funny and full of all the other qualities one needs to be a leader, he lead the cast through every scene, and it was a delight to see him in a fun role after the horror of The Comedian in Watchmen. His relationship with Idris Elba's Roque was one of a few divergences that I adored. In the original comic they were distant from one another, but in this... wow. They felt like best friends from the get, and the betrayal at the end of the second act was a gut punch, even though I knew it was coming. Chris Evans was wonderful as Jensen, filling the role with a sense of humour that was terrible and wonderful to watch. He seems to be really good at inhabiting these roles, and after seeing merely a moment of him in Scott Pilgrim Versus The World as Lucas Lee with That Eyebrow was an air-punching good time. Colombus Short was acceptable as Pooch, kind of the emotional centre of the group but not very watchable, while Óscar Jaenada did exactly the same as Evans and made Cougar bad-ass to the nth degree. Zoe Saldana was enigmatic and capable of flashes of emotion that were impressive... all in all, the main actors behind The Losers feel like they're at the top of their game, and I think the reason I have a reason with Short is that he didn't have enough to do. Sure, he had his moments of bad-assery like everyone else, but it was just... a bit vacuous. Shame.

It was great that Jock's visuals were incorporated into the film itself, with freeze frames punctuating the identities of The Losers. The fact that the screenwriters were comfortable enough to keep so tightly to the source material goes to show that Andy Diggle's original work-- the same kind of respect paid to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in Snyder's Watchmen. I hate a comic book adaptation that is embarrased of what came before. It's why I'm dreading Jonah Hex. I'm terrified of that film. I want to enjoy it, I want to see a "superhero" Western, but apparently they're giving Jonah supernatural powers, and that's not the character. What's the point? The direction as a whole was really strong, and the use of music was fantastic. I adore Journey in any context and Jensen singing along in the lobby? Oh, come on. Partnered with the telekinetic bit, taken from the comic itself? Perfection.

In the original comic book series Max wasn't revealed until the tail end of the run, a mysterious and scary man-in-black that we didn't fully understand. The film makers chose to make him a very real figure, and you can tell that Jason Patric is having a whale of time performing as the villain. He's hilarious, with a hair trigger fuse that is unleashed throughout the piece. The head nod was a great comic moment and the umbrella was obvious and executed perfectly. If The Losers are some of the best heroes a story could have, then Max is one of the best villains.

I loved The Losers, and I'm going to see it again as soon as I can. This film, and I called it within the first ten minutes of viewing, is better than The A-Team remake. It's everything The A-Team is going to want to be. I might be proven wrong, but I don't think I will.


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