Every year, Hollywood makes an attempt to bring some of our favorite comics to the big screen. Sometimes they succeed brilliantly, and other times…well, it can be pretty painful. This year, however, we have a few "comic book" films that show great promise. I mean, if Sam Raimi can't get Venom right (in "Spider-Man 3"), I don't think anyone can. The one movie I am most excited about though ï¿½" both as a comic fan and a Greek ï¿½" is Frank Miller's "300."
For those unfamiliar with this graphic novel, the story depicts the Battle of Thermopylae and its preceding events, mostly involving Leonidas I, king of Sparta. The book was initially released as a five-issue miniseries from Dark Horse Comics, and won three Eisner Awards in 1999. Warner Bros. Studios is releasing the "300" film on March 9 th , under the direction of Zack Snyder ("Dawn of the Dead" ï¿½" the 2004 remake). Snyder worked closely with Miller (who also served as the film's executive producer) on the look of the film, and if you've seen the "300" trailer, the results are staggering, to say the least.
In conjunction with the movie's release, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is bringing fans "300: March to Glory," a PlayStation Portable game based on the film. Jeff Nachbaur, a producer in this division of Warner Bros., took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with CBR News and
give fans an inside glimpse of what they can expect from a video game based on a film of a Frank Miller comic. To begin with, he filled us in on the creative team that's putting the game together.
"The developer is Collision Studios. This is their first game as a team, although all the team members are industry veterans," Nachbaur told CBR News. "For years, many of them have worked for various other developers and publishers; '300: March to Glory' is a chance for them to make the game the way they wanted to. They have been an absolutely great team and bring an enthusiasm and dedication that is very rare. They really want their first game out the door as a team to be a good one and I think they've done it.
"We also brought on a few other people for the ride as well. Despite the fact that we have both an artistically amazing film and a beautiful graphic novel, we found we needed something extra to really do the trick and brought comic artist Tomm Coker ('Blood & Water,' 'Nightfall') on board.
"When '300' came around, we really wanted to pay homage to its comic roots. Tomm seemed the perfect fit. He has that nice mix of grittiness and realism, but with a very stylized edge. He did some original character designs for us, including two new villains, Hydarnes and Mardonius, two Persian generals taken straight from history…but done up in the Snyder/Miller-style that the film has. He also did all of our cinema art which is phenomenal. Not only is he an amazing artist, but he also brings a filmmaker's sensibility to the project, since he's a filmmaker himself.
"We also got Tyler Bates, the composer from the film, to adapt and remix the music from the film for the game; so our music is performed by a full orchestra and sounds fantastic. Really, we are a great mix of the film and the comic, with little bits of history peppered through."
In addition to all of these talented individuals working on the game, Nachbaur added that the director of the movie himself was involved in the creative process. "Zack was working on the film the same time we were working on the game, but he still made time to have regular meetings with us and he would actually play the game and give us feedback! I know that doesn't sound like much, but it's so unusual for a film director to be that intimately involved. He wanted to see how well it played. And every time we met, he pushed us to try to do something more.
"The PSP is a handheld and because of it, doesn't have the processing power of a PS3 or Xbox 360, and he wanted us to have these fantastic capes on all the Spartans, since they are so iconic. He wanted them flying around, floating, moving with them, all sort of things. We thought he was insane and argued that it just wasn't possible, but he was persistent; all that pushing really worked and Collision found a way ï¿½" the game is better for it. I think we have the best capes ever seen on the PSP now. But overall, he gave us tremendous freedom and support to allow Collision to make a game and not a 'movie game' and really that's the best thing you can really do for a project. Allow it to be a game and really embrace that."
And even though most comic fans who have met Frank Miller might not imagine him as a "gamer," Warner Bros. Interactive worked hard to make this a game he would like ï¿½" if he did indeed play games.
"Frank had veto power ï¿½" not legally, but because we really wanted to make a game he would like. We brought on a creative advisor to help us make sure we never got far away from what makes '300' what it is. Standing in for him was a good friend of his who was intimately familiar with the source material, Flint Dille. Flint actually went to Greece with Frank when he researched the book and the character Dilios is named after him. Flint is also a great writer in his own right ï¿½" just research his credits and you'll see that he's done a wealth of work, including writing the 'Chronicles of Riddick' game. He helped us hone in on what was important to the property, pointed us toward the books we should read, and helped us get the tone right. There's a certain voice to Frank's stuff that we really wanted to get across. Flint really did a great job of helping us get there."
In speaking with Nachbaur, we at CBR News were curious about the kind of gameplay utilized in "300: March To Glory." Considering the game's setting is a war, could it be a strategy-adventure game? Or will it be more of a 1 st person shooter ï¿½" or in this case, a 1 st person spear-thrower?
"We're a third-person action game," explained the producer. "I guess you could call us a tactical beat 'em up. Everything in the game is designed to be direct. You never bother with telling your allies what to do ï¿½" they just follow your lead. This is also true when you are in a phalanx. We felt it was important for the player to have direct control and just let the action happen. Let him focus on just taking out the Persians and enjoying that experience. We like to use the word 'visceral' to describe the gameplay's feel.
"A 1 st person spear-thrower would be fantastic though ï¿½" perhaps on the Wii? Swinging around your sword and shield, looking side-to-side to see your buddies in the phalanx. Maybe next time!The Immortals -- CBR Exclusive!