More of Dwayne’s Science Fiction and Fantasy column, formerly hosted at FantasticCon.com-
I don’t care what the superintelligent, disembodied brains who run FANTASTICON have to say (and FANTASTICON is not, as is rumored, merely a front for said brains plans to conquer and build military staging areas on our “primitive but strategically important planet”). I’m taking a break this week from my recent, ongoing struggle to review all of STAR TREK “before they make any more.”
I know, I’m relieved too.
WARNING: If you haven’t yet seen THE MATRIX, tread carefully, all right? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I used to write comic books for a living and if years of precipitously dropping sales weren’t enough to depress me, I had to go sit through THE MATRIX, only the most recent of a spate of “comic book movies” that’re way more enjoyable than your average actual comic book. Just shortly before the Earth finished cooling, when I was but a editor-ling at Marvel Comics, I was taught comic books’ main advantage over moving visual media was that “comics have an infinite special effects budget.” For what it’s worth, I thought our main advantage was the interplay of prose and pictures unique to the medium. The argument, such as it was, is now moot. See what happened is, the movies finally caught up to us visually. It’s pretty clear now that any image you can think up can be done on film. All I could think of, watching folks leap through the air from building to building and running up walls and swinging from ropes in front of explosions is this: This may actually look cooler than when Ditko was drawing Spider-Man. Okay, it ain’t as cool as Kirby yet but give them a couple of years. I hereby pronounce big, dumb action as a comic books’ raison d’être, dead and buried. It is now the proper province of 100 million dollar plus movies. Mainstream comics better find something else to do, before everybody’s got a DVD player.
Meanwhile, some very quick thoughts on THE MATRIX. Yes, it is very much like GHOST IN THE SHELL, but has anybody noticed how much the plot mimics the origin of Marvel Comics’ DR. STRANGE? I guess the comic-bookness of the affair shouldn’t surprise me. I know at least one of the Wichosky brothers (co-creators of THE MATRIX), wrote some damned good HELLRAISER COMICS for Marvel (Ahem, I wrote some stories in the same crossover. I’ll be expecting my 100 million dollar movie to be along presently). The most pleasant surprise, though, is that the much ballyhooed “secret of The Matrix” pays off as one of the coolest evil plans to take over the world I’ve ever seen. Go figure. On the other hand, human beings make really crappy batteries. Everybody repeat after me, the value of a battery is not how much current you can get out, it’s how efficiently it stores the energy you put in. Humans store energy only slightly more efficiently than a hot towel. Especially really skinny humans like Keanu Reeves.