A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Yeah, I saw it: Watchmen Movie Talk

An admirable but flawed attempt at bringing the classic graphic novel to the big screen, Zack Snyder's Watchmen shows the director was probably right to repeatedly tell sources that if anyone got the chance to screw up the source material, he wanted it to be him.

The film is not terrible. It won't be mentioned in the same breath as The Spirit, I don't think. The first hour is pretty atrocious, but once the action gears up, and once Dan and Laurie are thick into their budding relationship, things get good.

The fight scenes are great. Blake's struggle for survival against Veidt is probably the singular element that supersedes the comic. We see a fighter going out in warrior fashion, yet his beatdown is still brutal enough for one to have sympathy for him. The multiple images of Sally Jupiter in his apartment also help the audience form some sympathy for the otherwise difficult-to-love Comedian (assuming they know the backstory, that is). The moments where one feels he got what he deserved don't come until later in the film.

And Night Owl finally looked like a bad-ass, maybe too much so. He and Laurie don't just immobilize, they apparently kill many of their attackers, even before they put on the capes and cowls again.

Even the final confrontation with Ozymandias is adrenalin-pumping fun. Veidt's superior strength and speed are made obvious. And I enjoyed the moment where Adrian "embraced" a final barrage of punches from Dan in a moment that was clearly changed such that the "everyman" could make the endpoint, regain some street cred, and give the audience some sense of power.

The love story between Dan and Laurie is what sells the film. But it is in what the film does not adapt concerning this story, paired with too much exposition from Laurie to explain Dr. Manhattan's powers and history, that weakens the movie.

"Do that thing you do," a perfect example of Laurie preempting the godhead of the graphic novel for the sake of advancing story, may become the "jump the shark, Fonzie!" plot faux pas of super-hero movies.

There were many moments where the violence was more excessive than it needed to be; Dr. Manhattan should have been given more weight/authority, or at least the ability to speak for himself more often, and Rorschach needn't have handled that cleaver the way he did (thanks Saw films!).

As for the acting, it was adequate. Dan and the Edward were probably best acted, then Rorschach and Manhattan. Laurie was great to look at, and the chemistry between her and Dan was probably enough to excuse otherwise deadpan delivery. Laurie's best-acted scenes were her most "emotional" ones, I guess I'll say, to be modest.

Having read the book multiple times, enjoyed the motion comic, and viewed the film, I'm happy to say that the source material hasn't been touched in terms of quality. I am worried,though, that the film will become the default accepted interpretation of the book's many subtleties and tensions, which would be a tremendous error of judgement.

Some critics like to score films with stars or thumbs. I think the symbol for Watchmen sums this one up pretty well: One smiley face, stained.


"A Drinker with a Writing Problem..." said...

You have a good points Dr. Carter, but not all of them are head on accurate, the unfilmable has been filmed, and Snyder should recieve accolades for it, whilst Moore should be hunted down in his Saddam Hussein hidy-hole and tied down and forced to watch the movie!

In the end, you can't satisfy everyone all the time and in this case you have to remember that if this had been a literal interpetation of the comic (yeah I said comic, cuz that's what it is a comic book!) It would have not only been a long movie, but an unwatchable one!

What I had trouble with was the marketing of the film, they made it seem like a pop corn, fun filled, Transformers/Spider-Man outing, and the film was far beyond that, I winced when I saw parents taking their little kids in to watch the movie, and I know now where the critics are getting their mised signals about the piece.

We love the material because we "get" it. The normal breeders will never get it, they'll just think they wasted 8 bucks on some piece of crap hype, when they could have gone to watch Hotel for Dogs or some bullshit like that! They'll never understand that some of the scenes were lifted straight from the story or how much Snyder went to lengths to make it in the fan-boy spirit, they'll just look at their watches and count the minutes till its over. Who watches the watchmen indeed?

The violence was right on, visceral, and needed, although the slow motion was a little bit too much, but the scenes where there was blood and gore were needed to emphasize the fact that what you were being exposed to was not the superhero norm but far from it and right where it needed to be.

So fuck the critics, fuck Alan Moore, and fuck the pop kids that never read the work until about a month ago, or have never read it and are talking nonsense they don't know about!

Make Mine Watchmen!

Bucky C. said...

Thanks for your commentary. I think we'll have to agree to disagree on several points, but I do appreciate you posting.