Band of Ninja (1967): Movies and comics are, in most respects, mutually exclusive mediums. Still, it’d be nice if more movies based on comics borrowed a little more from their sources. Every now and then an ambitious filmmaker thinks so, too, as was the case when Japanese New Waver Nagisa Oshima ( In the Realm of the Senses ) got his mitts on Sanpei Shirato’s ass-kicking manga. Rather than go live-action or even animation, Oshima simply filmed Shirato’s static images and hyper-edited them into a surprisingly kinetic epic.
Tank Girl (1995): Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin’s British cult comic screams for a manic adaptation; for better or worse, it got one. Director Rachel Talalay mixes live action with animation and throws in musical numbers, fake backdrops, wacky prosthetics and Lori Petty doing a very obnoxious Tank Girl to the point where the few heads that saw it exploded.
Hulk (2003): Whatever its faults, ambition is not one of them: Ang Lee, a normally calm filmmaker, whipped up a nifty experiment with editing, dividing the frame into panels that constantly moved about, making sure the audience is always looking at at least three things at once. With a less plodding script this could have been the comic adaptation.
American Splendor (2003): Thought bubbles and comic-style drawings of Paul Giamatti’s Harvey Pekar are some of the ways this Sundance fave stays true to its grouchy source.
Sin City (2005): The French toon Renaissance was the one that really borrowed the look of Frank Miller’s retro-noir comics—that is, black and white, no grays—but Robert Rodriguez’s take stays true in other, sleazier ways.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010): Not only does Edgar Wright’s latest blend comics with cinema—the words “RING RING” appear when a phone rings—it also throws in fighter-game-style smackdowns and concert rock-outs. It’s a film that exists at the nexus of comics, video games, music and, of course, cinema.
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