After a longish break from blogging, it’s time to start again. First up, a series on films that came from comic and graphic novel-based properties. Everyone knows about the films based on comic books like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and the Avengers, but what about other films that you might not know were originally based on comic books? First up, Greeks, gangsters, and gargoyles.
Director: Zack Snyder
Based on Frank Miller and Lynn Varley‘s 1998 comic book series of the same name, the film gives a version of the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC) between the Spartans and the Persians. Historically, an alliance of about 7000 Greek allies marched to face the much larger Persian army. The film (and comic) concentrates on the end of the encounter where Leonidas of Sparta defends Thermopylae (“The Hot Gates”), a narrow pass, with a group of 300 Spartans and their Thespian allies, to allow their allies to retreat when they are flanked. Ultimately the Spartans and their allies are defeated and killed.
Both the comic and the film are, unsurprisingly, violent with the film’s special effects emphasizing things like blood splatter. As such, it sits with other filmic adaptations of Miller’s work such as Sin City (2005) and The Spirit (2008).
Both the film and the comic had sequels. The film 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) and Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander (2019).
Road to Perdition (2002)
Director: Sam Mendes
Set in 1931 during the Great Depression this film adapted the graphic novel, Road to Perdition, by Max Collins and Richard Rayner for the big screen. Starring big name actors such as Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law, the film documents the journey of a mob enforcer and his son to hold accountable a mobster who killed their family. The titular “Perdition” serves a dual purpose – a township where the film climaxes and an allegorical state of eternal punishment for a sinful life connecting to the religious aspects of the central character, Michael Sullivan.
The film was well-received by critics but in spite of the comic book generating a number of additional stories no sequel to the film has been made. The additional comic book stories include On the Road to Perdition (Books 1-3, 2003-2004) and Return to Perdition (2011).
I, Frankenstein (2014)
Director: Stuart Beattie
I, Frankenstein takes the creature, Adam, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and places him in the present caught up in the battle between angelic and demonic forces. The film, based on the graphic novel of the same name by Kevin Grevioux, promises much including the creature’s quest for his own humanity and soul, the portrayal of the angelic forces as gargoyles rather than “pretty” or “beautiful” angels, and lots of action sequences with good battling evil physically and spirituality. However, it doesn’t really pull it off – and the critics were scathing – and the film turns into a kind of “get the popcorn and disengage your brain Friday night on the couch film”. Which is a shame as it had some good material to work with, some good actors, and certainly fitted the supernatural zeitgeist of the time when it was released.
Grevioux other film work includes the Underworld franchise of vampire/werewolf conflict and a potential crossover film was mooted but nothing came of it. You can, however, download a free special issue of the comic, I, Frankenstein: Genesis, from Comixology which ties in with the film’s backstory.