While it wasn’t the finished film, I caught a sneak peek screening of Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts in New York City amidst all the convention hubbub, and I thought for the sake of it I’d write a “review.” Or, considering it’s not the finished product, a few words because I guess I can’t really review a film before its final cut. Stuff works that way sometimes.
But from what I understand, the cut I saw comes close to the eventual final version. I believe a few Grant Morrison bits need to be edited in. So, hell with it, this is a review review.
And now that I know what this is, why don’t I talk about the film? That’d be nice, right?
Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts is a nice extension of Respect Film’s previous work Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods. Like Gods, the film focuses on a staple comics writer and boils down their work into a nice, even statement of what it represents and who, essentially, they are. The film is cohesive, stylish, and exciting in its approach, and I am yet again impressed at how well the production team takes a comic book writer, with so much background, and presents them in a way a novice of the subject could understand.
However, Captured Ghosts is not just another Gods. The film conveys a very different personality by incorporating the spirit of its subject, Warren Ellis. Surprisingly, Ghosts packs a nice amount of humor via its interviews as well as scripted elements. The film can also gross you out through either witness accounts provided by interviewed guests or its array of dramatizations. Ellis himself supplies much of the humor. He recounts quite a few early experiences that both shock and inspire fits of clap-aided laughter. His personality comes across so strong in some bits the film itself takes on a very abrasive attitude, and I don’t type this to slant the piece. Ellis as “internet Jesus” suggests an air of cool roughness which is beyond everyone, and the documentary plays into that creating a tone fit for a guy on the cutting edge yet still smokes 5 packs a day.
Production wise, the film improves upon Gods. Things looks crisp, clear and professional. The editing holds tight and moves at a swift pace. Hell, even the film’s soundtrack is high standard as sounds range from eerie ambiances to bursting electronics. The film also applies an interesting technique by creating a neat, little atmosphere of its own via the Ellis clips. The crew places Ellis against a solid, black background, and Ellis just fills this empty, dark room with his speech and cigarette smoke. It’s a cool trick to imply, that while watching the Ellis clips, you’re actually in his head scape.
If anything, you will walk away from this documentary possessing a clear appreciation for Warren Ellis and his work. Director Patrick Meaney and crew communicate the big ideas associated with the subject, and hey, it’s entertaining. Multiple, well-known comic book personalities and creators appear throughout to share their Ellis-related thoughts and memories. There’s even a brief segment about Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s marriage which is both cute and comical.
Plus, as someone who’s read very little Ellis, I walked away extremely interested. For the outsider, this could be the potential hook to make your un-comic book friends,well, read comics.
Transmet, here I come!