Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Watchmen"


Ok, so I will admit that I liked "Watchmen". But, not in a I-don't-understand-what-people-would-find-wrong-with-this sense. I can only speak from my experience of having read the graphic novel a little bit of time before the film was released. The film was an almost-exact carbon copy of the graphic novel...of course with some minor changes and bunching together of scenes to get to the point (like the assassination attempt on Ozymandias, and the missing explanation of Rorshach's mask, and the ending).

My theory is: people at least minutely steeped in the comics world will understand what author Alan Moore through director Zack Snyder (Moore said that he hated the fact that they put his work in Snyder's hands and will never watch the movie himself. I completely understand. "300" was horrible) is trying to portray in "Watchmen" immediately: taking the mythological images of superheroes and placing them in the real world with a very in-depth and gripping narrative. On the other hand, people who have confined their minds to the "real" world and expect to only see things they're familiar with will see the film talk about the Vietnam War, the Cold War, Nixon, and other things, and then see these silly people with colorful costumes showing up with their ridiculous personal problems and intense gore and blood all over the place and wonder what the hell is going on. A co-worker at my job took her kids and husband to see the movie because she thought it was some sort of children's story akin to "The Incredibles". After explaining that the film was very much for adults, she went to see it with her family anyway ("my kids watch violence at home all the time, so why not?"). Of course she didn't like it, which I think stems from the fact that she barely knew what the hell was going on (one of those people that can only attach herself to the simple things in life).

I'm a fanboy, so of course I enjoyed the fact that "Watchmen" was just like its literary counterpart. I thought the acting was superb on all counts. What I find additionally interesting is that, everyone from the people who have just seen the film to those who have just read the comic find Rorshach as the most interesting character. I agree, and I think that Jackie Earle Haley translated him on to the big screen perfectly. The opening montage was probably the best part of the whole film. I enjoyed the martial arts that Snyder worked into the story. The graphic novel hardly has any action of that kind in it, but bringing a story about superheroes into film would also breed some expectation for fighting in the public's eye (unless the film is advertised otherwise). However, the computer graphics in many parts of the movie were downright awful. Especially notable were the scenes that took place in Antartica and views of New York City from above during the ending, which looked like the director had a 10-year-old designing it.

So, overall, I'm not going to just up and recommend the film to everyone, but I'll say that you should read about it and a little of it's history and rapport with it's pre-established fanbase prior to viewing. It's not a typical story, and I'm not really sure that Snyder did a good job of introducing it to newcomers. I will definitely recommend that everyone purchase and read the graphic novel though, especially if you're a literary person. You can read my take on this here.

4 comments:

  1. Don't Feed The PixiesMarch 17, 2009 at 9:36 AM

    Yeah am hoping to see it wednesday, so will come back and give my own opinion. The general comments i've heard have been mixed: Snyder himself is a fan, so maybe he wasn't objective enough?

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  2. Hi there!

    I didn't know Watchmen is also about Vietnam War, Cold War, Nixon, etc. but that's interesting, I pretty much have an idea about these things. I can't attach myself to simple things in real life. That would be boring LOL.

    I'm not into graphic novels but I love watching movies. I'll give my verdict if I get a 'copy'.

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  3. Don't Feed The PixiesMarch 19, 2009 at 4:26 AM

    OK - i'm back and i saw Watchmen last night. I went with my brother, who has never read the graphic novel.

    I have a couple of thoughts about the film. I actually quite enjoyed it, but there was the fact in the back of my mind that Terry Gilliam had wanted to make it as a mini-series instead of a film and i think this might have worked better because you'd have more time to get to the motivations and the back story (and all that pirate ship stuff)

    I didn't mind the SFX too much - the problem is that we've come to expect so much from effects that when they're not quite 100% we complain. Nixon's nose though was another story - it was like one of those rubber masks and quite distracting!

    Rorschach was always the most interesting character - i thought the chap playing him (kinda like a young Clint Eastwood) was note perfect. Perhaps Snyder played it too safe sticking so close to the graphic novels (some shots were taken directly out of it) and should have taken a few more risks.

    My brother said he felt that the pacing was too slow and that, with no background to the story, he hadn't fully followed everything that had gone on - i tend to agree that a knoweldge of the book is helpful, but as Snyder doesn't add much then who is the film aimed at?

    I'll be interested to see what bits they put back in for the Director's cut on DVD, but do worry that this may only make the film longer rather than deeper.

    On the whole i thought this was probably as good a job as you could do of making a movie from the book.

    PS: I think Alan Moore's resistence is a little wider spred than just for Snyder - he is generally against his books being made into films and has taken his name off the last couple

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  4. YAY. You reviewed it. I was so interested to hear your thoughts ... I also was won over by the character Rorshach ... at the beginning of the film, I had no interest in him ... and thought I would like Dr. Manhattan. Instead, I found myself drawn into Rorshach's story and couldn't wait for Dr.Manhattan to shut up.

    I found it very much an adult film as well and was planning to borrow the graphic novel from a friend -- but now will do so even more, especially since I am still wondering about the Mask ...I thought it was well done ...(I also thought 300 was horrible). Now -- just waiting for May 20th. (Terminator) .... ha ha!

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