3.09.2009

Who Watches...

Watchmen could have been a travesty. Like I have for every single film I've seen based on a classic work I love, I walked into the theater prepared-- even expecting-- to be let down

I wasn't.

It managed to be an extremely faithful adaptation of one of the greatest and most significant graphic novels in the history of the medium, despite the fact that it would be absolutely impossible to capture all of it. Much of the pages upon pages of backstory that even Alan Moore couldn't script out when he wrote the book were masterfully compressed into the title credits, set to Dylan's The Times They Are a Changin'. It shares with its pulped dead tree predecessor the penchant for small details in the background that could easily be missed but which one who notices will appreciate.

There were some complaints about the sex scenes-- it seems because they weren't like sex scenes in other movies. I loved them. Awkward as hell, revealing of character, and tapping into the implicit sexualization of EVERY superhero's costume. And unlike most movies, they were perhaps a bit more familiar to anyone who has actually had sex.

The music was fantastic until the ending credits.

Fuck you, My Chemical Romance. Way to turn a timeless classic into something utterly indistinguishable from any other piece of shit that you've produced. The first person I hear refer to Desolation Row as your song will live to regret it.

Snyder managed to beautifully capture the brutality implicit in the novel that was never quite made visceral until now. Though for my taste he made use of far too much of the speed-up-then-slow-down shooting that worked quite well for 300, but here seemed to distract from the main premise of the work-- how the superman fits into the real world.

He also fell short in capturing the Comedian. It seemed like every other phrase that came out of the character's mouth was "It's all a joke." Absent, for instance, was perhaps the best line of his from the book: "Once you realize what a joke everything is, being the Comedian is the only thing that makes sense."

On the other hand, every other character was captured brilliantly, especially Rorscharch, whose every movement, gesture, and vocal cue fell exactly in line with how I imagined them to be from the static images in the book, with the caveat that his diction was made slightly more grammatically correct, which is a choice that I understand, though I disagree with it.

Dr. Manhattan was also quite well-done, and I'd been particularly worried about him. When reading the book, I heard a voice in my head whenever he spoke, but for the life of me I couldn't tell you what the voice was like. Billy Crudup's portrayal wasn't the voice I'd heard, but it may yet become it. A warning: If you watch the movie in a theater where you've been plagued by braindead loudmouths in the past, there WILL be people who can't get over the fact that the giant naked blue man has a penis.

Obviously, massive cuts had to be made, but they were handled in a way that made sense. It could be argued that it made better sense. Not wishing to spoil, I shall say this: It would have been impossible to include the backstory on the comics industry that thrived on pirate books (superhero books faded from the shelves, no longer being viable fantasy in a world inhabited by actual masked vigilantes) in the film. Zach Snyder managed to excise it without harming the plot points that hinged on it in a way that I found quite novel.

All in all, one of the better comic book adaptations. I would strongly recommend it. Though I'd suggest reading through the book beforehend.

Do it? Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago.

2 comments:

  1. Just when I get into the I-bought-the-cheapest-possible--but-high-pixel-flat-screen (Kmart) and will be so happy watching movies at home a movie like Watchman opens.

    I thought I would like it and then I read your better than a review post and know I will love it

    thanks for that wonderful comment. Between you and Cooper I might just start believing in my talent :) i do enjoy reading me so...

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