The Adam Hughes Corollary to the Gene Siskel Movie Test

From Roger Ebert’s review of “GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra“:

“G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” is a 124-minute animated film with sequences involving the faces and other body parts of human beings. It is sure to be enjoyed by those whose movie appreciation is defined by the ability to discern that moving pictures and sound are being employed to depict violence. Nevertheless, it is better than “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

The late Gene Siskel had a famous test for evaluating a movie. He noted that “It’s amazing how many movies aren’t as interesting as a documentary of these same actors sitting around talking over lunch.”

A wise and shrewd observation. And with just a slight modification, it might offer us a way out of this horrifying era of awful, awful movies based on comics, toys, games, and other bits of pop culture ballast.

I present a new guideline. It takes the form of a cautionary question for every studio, every producer, and every 19 to 23 year old actor and actress who gets paid $4 million based on how good they look in a slightly sprayed-down tee shirt:

“Before making a movie based on a licensed property, ask yourself: is this movie going to be less entertaining than just Googling for Adam Hughes drawings of these same characters?”

This simple little test will avert endless future catastrophes. But please…don’t just take my word for it.

Ebert’s one-star review of “Catwoman:

“The director, whose name is Pitof, was probably issued with two names at birth and would be wise to use the other one on his next project.”

Adam Hughes’ Catwoman:

Ebert’s two-star review of “Superman Returns:

Superman is vulnerable to one, and only one, substance: kryptonite. He knows this. We know this. Lex Luthor knows this. Yet he has been disabled by kryptonite in every one of the movies. Does he think Lex Luthor would pull another stunt without a supply on hand? Why doesn’t he take the most elementary precautions? How can a middle-aged bald man stab the Man of Steel with kryptonite?

Adam Hughes’ Lex Luthor:

Ebert’s half-star review of “Josie And The Pussycats:

Josie and the Pussycats are not dumber than the Spice Girls, but they’re as dumb as the Spice Girls, which is dumb enough.

Adam Hughes’ Josie And The Pussycats:

Ebert’s 1-1/2 star review of “Elektra:

“Elektra” plays like a collision between leftover bits and pieces of Marvel superhero stories. It can’t decide what tone to strike. It goes for satire by giving its heroine an agent who suggests mutual funds for her murder-for-hire fees, and sends her a fruit basket before her next killing. And then it goes for melancholy by making Elektra a lonely, unfulfilled overachiever who was bullied as a child and suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. It goes for cheap sentiment by having her bond with a 12-year-old girl, and then … but see for yourself. The movie’s a muddle in search of a rationale.

Adam Hughes’ Elektra:

Ebert’s two-star review of “Attack Of The Clones:

In the classic movie adventures that inspired “Star Wars,” dialogue was often colorful, energetic, witty and memorable. The dialogue in “Episode II” exists primarily to advance the plot, provide necessary information, and give a little screen time to continuing characters who are back for a new episode. The only characters in this stretch of the film who have inimitable personal styles are the beloved Yoda and the hated Jar-Jar Binks, whose idiosyncrasies turned off audiences for “Phantom Menace.” Yes, Jar-Jar’s accent may be odd and his mannerisms irritating, but at least he’s a unique individual and not a bland cipher. The other characters–Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme Amidala, Anakin Skywalker–seem so strangely stiff and formal in their speech that an unwary viewer might be excused for thinking they were the clones, soon to be exposed.

Adam Hughes’ Padme and Yoda:

Ebert’s one-star review of “League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen:

“The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” assembles a splendid team of heroes to battle a plan for world domination, and then, just when it seems about to become a real corker of an adventure movie, plunges into incomprehensible action, idiotic dialogue, inexplicable motivations, causes without effects, effects without causes, and general lunacy. What a mess.

Adam Hughes’ Mina Murray and Mister Hyde:

Ebert’s two-star review of “Spider-Man 3”:

The great failing of “Spider-Man 3” is that it failed to distract me from what a sap Peter Parker is. It lingers so long over the dopey romance between Peter and the long-suffering Mary Jane that I found myself asking the question: Could a whole movie about the relationship between these two twentysomethings be made? And my answer was: No, because today’s audiences would never accept a hero so clueless and a heroine so docile. And isn’t it a little unusual to propose marriage after sharing only one kiss, and that one in the previous movie, and upside-down?

Mary Jane by Adam Hughes:


I believe I’ve made my point here, yes? To see more art by Adam Hughes, check out his site, “Just Say AH!” or his Deviant Art gallery.

Oh, and yes of course looking at Adam Hughes’ take on characters from “G.I. Joe” is better than watching the “The Rise Of Cobra.” Witness Scarlett and the Baroness:


11 thoughts on “The Adam Hughes Corollary to the Gene Siskel Movie Test

  1. JM Ringuet

    Nice article.
    And Adam hughes can draw sexy women, I think that’s pretty obvious now.
    Since we’re talking about comics, I have a new graphic novel specially designed for the Iphone (and Ipod Touch) that you guys should check. It’s free, and it’s an experiment to see if comics can be designed for that small beautiful screen.
    The itunes link is: A few good looking women in it too, it’s a story about a rock band with maybe a dark secret.

  2. Mark

    I don’t think any movies could compare to an Adam Hughes piece. Then again hoping for any real content out of a summer movie is an exercise in folly.

  3. Scott

    Yes these blockbusters are usually bad, but at least Ebert could pay attention and do his job properly. His action movie reviews this year have been plagued by factual inaccuracies, as if he’s too busy thinking up clever jokes for his review than to get his plot synopsis right. He got Marlon Wayans and Channing Tatum completely mixed up. Jiminy Christmas, I know we want to live in a color-blind world, but COME ON ROGER, they look and act nothing alike! Unprofessional and disrespectful.

  4. Greg

    Compelling argument, but lacking in counter examples. Any four star reviews with unfun-to-Google drawings?

  5. Gregor Findlay

    Great post and I am very glad to be introduced to the art of Adam Hughes. I used to read and collect comics in the ’80s. the one picture in this series that really jarred with me was Elektra. it’s a baaad rip-off/tribute to Bill Sienkiewicz’s Elektra (IMHO).

    His work does seem to draw on Mr Sienkowicz and that last character is surely Sarah Palin, not the Baroness! (Was she a baddy by the way?)

  6. John Duncan Yoyo

    As a long time comics fan I have to ask- Would any movies ever get made if they had to be better than an Adam Hughes sketch? I sort of doubt it.

    I want to see his take on Jane Eyre, Mrs Havelock and Jasper Fforde’s Tuesday Next.

  7. Geddy

    Like popular music, movie-making has fallen into a deep mire. All should agree the heyday for both has essentially passed. We just need to get used to it.
    It is however, wholly unfair to deride the blood sweat and tears that goes into their crafting in as dismissive a manner as Mr. Ebert habitually does.

    Only one thing is sure, making a movie is very very difficult. Being an artist, I always try to appreciate the value of even the most insipid flick. People gave up a year or more of their lives in the hopes their efforts would entertain us. You’d have to read a few scathing reviews of your own work to fully appreciate this.
    For an unlikely reference, here’s a quote from the fictional Anton Ego, from the amazing Pixar film Ratatouille:

    “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talents, new creations. The new needs friends…”

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