Summer has announced its arrival not only with a rise in temperature, but the movies, television networks and bookstores have even ramped up advertising directed towards you, the consumer. A fanfare, trumpeting the advantages of those hotter months in the year – colorful collages of beach blankets and carefully placed books nestled beside glasses of iced tea.
As entertainment connects more and more with our lifestyles (mobile devices are providing us with books, TV clips, video games), we are slowly emerging as walking, talking, repositories of media. Or perhaps we are receptors, but such a labeling suggests passivity, and this new media requires active, often spirited participation.
It wasn’t long ago when most of us couldn’t conceive of viewing or reading anything on a screen smaller than our desktops. Funny, how we adapt. Grow. Reconsider. The world is at once much larger, yet somehow smaller as we miniaturize our technology.
Despite this, most of us do occasionally make it to the movie theater for large, bombastic explosions and movie butter popcorn. July should be a pretty exciting month for moviegoers. There’s “The Last Airbender,” “Predators,” “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Inception.”
Directed by “The Dark Knight’s” Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it looks to be a grand mind-bending cinematic experience, a movie that actually makes me want to pluck down hard-earned cash. Nolan is a director whose work is usually top-notch and engaging. Unlike the Batman films, the source material for “Inception” was completely original, with Nolan penning the screenplay. The release date is July 16.
On July 27, “Batman: Under the Red Hood,” another DC direct-to-DVD title, will hit stores and video on demand. The voice cast includes Bruce Greenwood (Captain Pike from last year’s “Star Trek” reboot) as Batman. “Supernatural” star Jensen Ackles as Red Hood, and Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother,” “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”) voices Nightwing. John DiMaggio (“Futurama”) and Jason Issacs (the “Harry Potter” films) round out the main cast as the Joker and Ra’s Al Ghul.
“Batman: Under the Red Hood” is scripted by award-winning comics writer Judd Winick and based on his popular 2005 comics storyline and subsequent comics graphic novel of the same name.
If the previews are to be trusted, this one takes Batman to even darker territory with the death of Robin. These animated features are smart, adult and faithful adaptations of the source material.
On the comic book front, starting with “Superman” issue 700, the Man of Steel walks the streets, roads, highways, homes, farms, suburbs, and inner cities of America, beginning with Philadelphia. He will be passing through real towns and neighborhoods, rendered by some of the industry’s most talented artists.
I think it’s great that my favorite comic book company continues to push comics into the mainstream.
Love it, hate it, don’t care about it either way, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” brings both a feature film and the novella, “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner,” proving the intersection of movie and books is growing stronger each year. Love Manga? Try “Twilight” the graphic novel.
I’m not a “Twilight” fan, but I do appreciate, as with the “Harry Potter” books and films, the way words and cinema are affecting the masses. Books like this are getting more tweens and teens to read and further serve the point that the upcoming generation are interested in more than their Facebook accounts, texting and video games.
Summer is also a reason to stay in, with a barrage of returning and new shows on AMC (“Mad Men,” “Rubicon”) SyFy (“Eureka,” “Haven,”) ABC (“The Gates”), and HBO (“True Blood.”) Arguably, the summer is an excellent time to see television take creative risks (ABC’s “Masters of Science Fiction” immediately comes to mind, as well as NBC’s “Fear Itself”; both anthology series, sadly, never returned).
Television is increasingly the innovative medium to watch and the recent advent of the “summer season” of new programming proves this. While movies keep churning the old, television is looking ahead.
As much as I love to celebrate the intersection of comics, books, movies, video games and the like, I still believe that certain adaptations are simply unnecessary and indulgent. “The Last Airbender” has already received less than favorable reviews, even from fans of the series. Can’t say it surprises me.
I understand economics enough to get the bottom line of most of these studios, and that is to get you in the theaters paying, and if it’s 3D, paying even more. But from an artistic perspective, certain stories are best kept in their respective mediums. If the transfer is made, it should in some way enhance and deepen the original experience.
Consider this: a symphonic work transcribed for piano, string quartet or possibly even guitar. Did you really need another version of the work? Possibly not, but transferring books to movies, movies to books, comics to video games, plays to musicals, actually widens the scope, giving the author of the original work a greater opportunity for exposure. In short, potentially growing your audience.
And sometimes, you simply have to reach people where they are. “Watchmen” had existed since 1986 but thanks to the film, the movie posters, heck, even the game, the images of Rorschach, Doctor Manhattan and the Comedian, have shifted firmly into the pop culture collective unconscious.
So, choose your medium. Whether it’s movies, TV shows, books, DVDs, or video games, summer, indeed, has arrived.
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