Monday, March 23, 2009


Went and saw the "Watchmen" movie yesterday. While I'd heard of the "Watchmen" comic a long time ago, and was aware of the basic story, it was one of those "must reads" that I never got around to reading. So I can't really compare the movie to comic, but it is my understanding that both the film's director (Zack Snyder) and the comic creator (Alan Moore) agree there are things that could only be done in the comic art form, so the movie HAD to be different. Frankly, when a film is an adaptation of a book I'd prefer to see the movie FIRST. Why? Well, a movie has a finite amount of time to tell the story, which means things need to be cut in editing. Time and again I've heard people who've read the book first complain that this or that scene or element was missing from the movie. It's like they've set themselves up to be disappointed. Conversely, if you see the movie first and then read the book, the book is like "DVD Extras" fleshing out things in more details, giving more back-story, introducing scenes and/or characters absent from the movie version. If you ask me, that's the better way to experience the story - you can enjoy the movie for what it is, and then enjoy the book for how it expands the story beyond what you saw in the movie. I kind of consider the different media like "parallel universes" anyway, so it doesn't bother me all that much if they don't agree on the details.

Speaking of parallel universes, that's exactly where "Watchmen" takes place. We're exposed to a mid-1980's landscape where Nixon is still President of the United States and the Cold War "Doomsday Clock" is only 4 minutes from midnight. But, hey, the US won the Vietnam War with the help of two super heroes, so it can't be all bad, right? Except that one of those so-called heroes (known as "The Comedian") is such a total bastard one has to wonder why he didn't become a super villain instead (he's even described in the movie as a "Nazi"). Dr. Manhattan is the glowing blue guy who goes "clothing optional" through much of the movie. But he's so super-powerful he doesn't really relate to humanity - or a single reality - anymore.

As an aside, at MarsCon 2009 I heard numerous people talking about "Watchmen" as the film had just been released prior to the convention. Those conversations inevitably included the words "big blue penis," usually from guys who were clearly disgusted or uncomfortable with the fact Dr. Manhattan is often naked as a blue bird. Now, given how much focus was being paid to that aspect of the film I had expected the nudity to be a lot more "in your face" than it was. When Dr. Manhattan is al fresco I often hardly noticed because there's other stuff going on in the scenes, and he's unclothed through so much of the movie you reach a point where you're just like "Ok, whatever." Which means you start taking more note of the occasions in the movie when he DOES put on clothes.

All of the "heroes" are deeply, psychologically damaged people. Which makes sense, really. What normal, well-adjusted person would put on a costume and place themselves in life-threatening situations? I'm not going to break down their break downs, there are plenty of "Watchmen" sites and pages that can fill you in on that if you're interested. Or you could just go see the movie.

Special-effects in this movie are good, but not jaw-droppingly spectacular. There's nothing ground-breaking or even anything you haven't seen done before. In fact, near the end there's a "crane shot" of Ozymandeous through a broken glass roof and, if you look at his feet, he is very obviously composited into the scene. One thing I do like about Zack Snyder's directing style is that he likes to show fight scenes (or at least key "hits" in them) in slow motion. I absolutely HATE movies with frenetic fight scenes with lots of inter-cutting, close-ups, and hyper-fast blows to the point where the audience can't even follow the action.

It was refreshing to finally see a "comic book movie" that wasn't dumbed down or cleaned up for a PG rating, especially when the original source material wasn't "kid stuff." Which makes me wonder what the hell some people are thinking when they bring their children - young children - into an R-rated film like that?!? Oh yeah, that's excellent parenting. Hire a f---ing sitter or drop the kids at daycare, morons, because I'm sick of hearing your kids crying because the bloody murder on screen scared them or of seeing you herding said children to and from numerous bathroom breaks in my line of sight to the screen.

Oh, and too the guy that decided he HAD to sit in the seat in front of me, despite probably 100 other open seats he could have picked in the matinee showing, which forced me to take me feet down from their comfy perch on that seat's armrest, and consequently my legs hurt from having no room to stretch out during the THREE HOUR show: Dude, you suck.

Which is exactly why I prefer to watch movies at home on DVD.

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