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September 21 2006

"It wasn't just from Whedon." Brett Ratner, director of "X-Men: The Last Stand," tells MTV where he got his ideas.

Interview quotes:

MTV: Speaking of comic books, how much of the movie was drawn from Joss Whedon's story "Gifted"?

Ratner: It wasn't just from Whedon. Every scene in this movie you could find in an existing comic book a portion of it or the idea behind it. I didn't want the fans saying, "Oh, Brett Ratner invented this in his mind." So I made Zak and Simon show me the comic book references. Every single scene I had on my wall in my office in comic book form.

I didn't want the fans saying, "Oh, Brett Ratner invented this in his mind."

It would, after all, be pretty criminal to make an original concept X-Men film.
*repeats to himself* If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all...if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all...
Lol, patnumbers. Point taken. Uhm, I didn't think X3 was too bad. But there was a lot of noise.
I agree, gossi, and knowing now how he put together the script, it reinforces my impression that X3 was a lot of cool story parts that didn't quite add up to a story.
Right. Because original storytelling is always a bad idea in film making? Can this guy actually hear what he's saying?

My major complaint with X3 was that it took too many different story lines and tried to weave them together into one overall story. If that kind of thing is done well, more power to you. But in this case it wasn't done well. The overlapping plotlines were disjointed and distracting, and resulted in none of them really being paid their proper due.

Also, I have zero problem with bringing back an old storyline and breathing new life into it. But it just seemed disrespectful to hijack a storyline that was still in production and had yet to reach its conclusion and give it a completely different spin. At least let Joss's mutant cure story play itself out before you start reinventing it. Sheesh.
cool story....awful dialogue...IMHO.
I like that nick, gossi. "patnumbers." Makes me sound like I'm connected, if you know what I mean.
Not sure I buy the whole 'auteur' idea. If the script's poor no amount of flashy camera work or interesting shots is gonna make it a good film. A decent script can have pretty workmanlike direction and still end up a worthwhile film though (and obviously the ideal mix is both a great script and a great director).

Bit of insight into who he is I think (no comment, as per the rules ;) and some clues as to why X3 was a bit messy but ultimately (to me) quite enjoyable (if insubstantial). I've yet to see it again though so that could easily change (only for the worse though I suspect).

("Ya disrespect da family and Pat-numbers divides yer ass inta tiny pieces, carries the 'one', if yer understandin' me, then feeds the remainder to da fishes. Capiche ?")
I will just say he should have stayed with JW idea's. X3 was very bad!

[ edited by Donna Troy on 2006-09-22 01:05 ]
Well, that would explain why the film was both a complete mess and yet also piece-by-piece highly enjoyable.

I'd be curious to see this wall of comic books, by the way. I don't recall the scene in the comics where Kavita Rao got impaled on a porcupine mutant, by the way. Jus' sayin'.

oh, and the dialogue was indeed laughably overwrought, but I suppose it made the whole affair that bit more entertaining...

[ edited by daylight on 2006-09-22 01:08 ]
Then calls on Saj 'da Mailman' to send the 'one' to yer f****'n, cryin' her eyes out, poor ol' mutha, if she ain't died'a no grief, god bless her heart.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-09-22 01:09 ]
Much like there is only one Matrix movie, and only 3 Star Wars movies, there are only two X-Men movies.
Yes, Kiba, but it appears there are 32082 pats.
Do you want to find a horse head on your pillow, jaynelovesvera? Do you?
Saje and patnumbers, are you two doublehandedly trying to disprove Donna Troy"s "accents never good" assertion in the Beatles thread above?
It's text accenting, jaynelovesvera, so if it sounds bad to you, maybe you just don't have a good imagination...

*walks away innocently whistling*


But yea, dat's why.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-09-22 01:59 ]
Do you want to find a horse head on your pillow, jaynelovesvera? Do you?

Depends. Will it be needlepoint or silkscreen? 'cause needlepoint's kinda scratchy to sleep on.

Don't get mad pat--it's more impressive to be the best pat out of 32082 than to be the best Star Wars movie out of three.
Wow, so I'm more impressive than TESB? I'm touched, jaynelovesvera, I'm...hey, what's the catch?
No catch, not even a zipper, we're way past that slash thread.
Well...good. Because zippers...nah, not gonna go there.
kiba, how about 'zero' x-men movies, just fifty or so really good issues of uncanny x-men? cus if I'm to jump aboard one of them bandwagons, that's the one I'd stand on.

and of course jean grey was the phoenix all along, etc.

[ edited by daylight on 2006-09-22 02:23 ]
OK, so Ratner steals from Whedon. But Whedon steals as well (from many sources - Shakespeare, Wm James, etc...). He then re-invents what he "borrows" to make it original. To quote Stephen R. Donaldson (a recurring source of Whedonesque themes) "Good writers borrow. Great writers steal!" So if you are going to criticize Ratner, then criticize he failings to re-invent the theme and integrate it into a unique and autonomous story.
Isn't that what we've been doing? (Well, started out doing...)
I don't see how anyone could say he only lifted stuff from Joss Whedon unless they are wholly unfamiliar with X-Men comics. First of all, the entire notion of "Dark Phoenix" comes from years of Chris Claremont-John Byrne Uncanny X-Men comics circa 1980. Secondly, the entire fight at Alcatraz was hugely reminiscent of an Avengers Annual by Claremont and Michael Golden from 1981, which was the comic book that introduced the character of Rogue.
He took the movie from different disjointed bits of dozens of comic books? Wow, that explains a lot.
Turning now to well-told tales, I just read Astonishing #17 and loved
(...)and knowing now how he put together the script, it reinforces my impression that X3 was a lot of cool story parts that didn't quite add up to a story.

At end, Comic Book movie adaptations are just like a bowl of Fruit Salad.

Really, just like in a well made Fruit Salad, you can have good combination with ideal balance of flavors, giving the salad the right amount of sweetness, sourness, bitterness... but the wrong combination, might damn the Salad. Too Sweet. Too Sour. Too Bitter. Salty? Sometimes, it doesn't taste like nothing at all simply becuase the different fruits are so mixed up, that the fruits just eliminate each other flavors.

Comic Book movie adaptations do end up being a mish mash of things, where the script combine will combine into a audiovisual format, with reality and budgetary constraints, while trying to fit in enough elements to make it regocnizeble to the fans that made him/her/them famous at the first place. At in some cases theses fans are not even as homogenous as the rest of the general public. For characters that have over half of century of existence, so much has been capped in their history, some things that are considered like defining moments for some people, might just not be so for another fan.

The problem is not combining or joining ideas that
are significant in comics, and using them on film. The real issue is at joining them well enough, so they won't just, as Pointy said, "a lot of cool story parts that didn't quite add up to a story".

There are examples how that's done a lot better.

I remember reading, how Sam Raimi started to portray Mary Jane Watson right in the first Spider-Man movie. Where for fans she wasn't clearly the same MJ from the comics, instead she became an almagamation of both comic books' Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy. Not that, I like Dunst's portrayal of MJ or how the character is written at all, but looking it through this interpretation, it was definetely a filmakers solution for an adaptation conundrum.

I'm not a Frank Miller fan at all, but I loved what he and Robert Rodriguez done with the Sin City movie, by combining three (almost four) separate comic books tales into one movie, that although is not exactly told linearly, made a lot of sense. The result, in my opinion, wasn't only a visually stunning movie with a great cast, but also very well written.

X3 lacked the conciseness that some better writing and editing might have been able to solve it. It's not a matter of using more or less of Joss' ideas from the first AXM arc, but mostly knowing how to tie everything that Ratner wanted to use both in the script and also in the editing room, so the movie wouldn't look so much like a collage as much as it turned out to be.

Back into the Fruit Salad analogy, kiwis, bananas, mangos, watermellons, strawberrys are delicious fruits by themselves. The matter is in how or can you combine them into a great Fruit Salad.
To quote Stephen R. Donaldson (a recurring source of Whedonesque themes) "Good writers borrow. Great writers steal!"

Is that ironic (cos my meter's on the fritz ;) ? Just asking because i'm pretty sure it was T.S. Elliot that said that originally not Stephen Donaldson (he's clearly borrowed/stolen the phrase so it works on multiple levels ;) and i'd also say that pretty much every previous piece of writing and/or film is a recurring source of Whedon themes from Gilgamesh on up because the themes themselves are universal. That's sort of the deal with great fiction.

I also (with krad) don't see how anyone could accuse Ratner of stealing exclusively from Joss but then I don't really see anyone doing so either.

Do you want to find a horse head on your pillow, jaynelovesvera? Do you?

Don't you mean 'hoises hed on yer piller' pat32082 ? Your text accent was slipping ;).

I'm not a Frank Miller fan at all

Go to your room Numfar PTB ;-).

(seriously though ? I thought the overlap between non-Frank Miller fans and superhero comics fans was small to non-existent)

Lots of good points there (and nice fruit-salad analogy). There's always a tension between the comic and what fits the screen. I think the original 'party girl' Mary Jane would've been totally out of place in the modern era and really not fit with the film's sensibilities. Likewise with Batman, you can have the hugely operatic villains but you have to ground the piece somehow and Batman himself should never be over-the-top (except, obviously, in concept) which is why, IMO, 'Batman Begins' succeeds so well and 'Batman and Robin' doesn't exist ;).

The trick is to take the elements of the comic, what makes it great, and make a film out of them. Not a big-screen comic book but an actual movie. I think Sam Raimi has, so far, done this best (e.g. every pose Spider-man adopts in the films has appeared at one time or another in the comics so capturing part of the essence of the character on screen, really simple touch but very effective) with a mix of universal themes (but familiar to Spidey fans), great, believable acting and casting, good scripts and pretty convincing effects (though i've high hopes for 'The Dark Knight').

In comparison X3 is more like an abridgement of a film that previously had a lot more plotting and character conflict. Kind of the 'good parts' version without all the good parts ;).
I'm not sure why everyone is so down on Brett over this. He came in a handful of weeks before shooting was due to start to this script and as he said, he didn't do much in the way of changing it. And as it was written referencing loads of different scenes from comics, choosing to shoot it in a way that copies them is not necessarily a bad idea. At least it's being honest about where it came from.

I'd have thought that the blame (if there is any, personally I loved the film and I'm looking forward to getting the DVD) should be placed at the feet of the writers.
I agree he did OK in a very difficult situation and I also agree there's nothing wrong with borrowing from the comics (it's basically a given to me) but it'd certainly be easier to blame the writers without this sort of comment:

Directors are, in my opinion, the auteurs of the movie. Not that writers aren't important, but that's why it's a Brett Ratner film and not a Zak Penn or a Simon Kinberg film.

Sounds like an admission of guilt to me ;). That said, I enjoyed the movie though, flaws and all (and i'm also looking forward to the DVD, coupla weeks to go).
As long as someone brought up "Spider-Man," I have to say this--I wish somebody else had been chosen to play him. Tobey looks the part, but man, he's just so...bland, in the role.

ETA: Gasp! Youse is right, Mailman. I did slip. 'Cuse me whiles I go punish myself.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-09-22 13:55 ]
The quote about great writers stealing ideas has also been attributed to Aaron Sorkin and Mark Twain. My bet is on Twain.
Hah, LOL, so Eliot stole it too Lioness ? There really is nothing new under the sun ;).

Dunno, pat, Peter's a geek, and not one of these new fangled ones with people skills, he's old skool all the way, yo, so I think Maguire's 'flatness' is pretty good characterisation. One thing I do miss in the movie interpretation is Spidey's quipping though, really wish they could find a way to fit that in.
Oh, I know, Saj. But I think better acting would endear me to Peter despite his lack of skills, and I'm not. I too miss the quipping.
ratner would have done well to have "borrowed" all whedon's ideas. i mean, he can't funk up a script when it's right there on a silver platter can he? can he?!?

how exactly do you take a handful of cool concepts and forget that good dialogue needs to tie it all together?
Whenever I watch any film, I inevitably find myself pointing at the screen while shouting "The director invented this! IN HIS MIND!"

[ edited by Jona on 2006-09-22 17:33 ]
Hehehe. I dunno why, that just really cracked me up, Jona. You know who would say that? Chris (Seth Green's character) on Family Guy.
Jona, Pat32082--you guys are awesome.
Ha! I agree with twa_corbies, you two are a hoot.
On the subject of borrowing ideas, this morning's New York Times has an article on a book about superheroes and Jewish theology. And for some reason I can't link to it, so here's the URL:
Really late to the party, but, hey, gedouddahere, youse guys, patty numbers and sajey the mailman and jayney the vera lover and all your crew. Funny thread, thass all I'm sayin', know whaddimean? Fogeddaboudit. ;-)

(And, yeah, X3 was kind of like you were going through your comic collection and opening pages at random from random issues in the series. The explanation of a wall full of comic pages makes sense. Not my favorite film; much more comic-movie love for the Spidey films.)

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