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Okay, I know everyone’s probably sick of hearing about the Watchmen flick by now. But let me just throw out a few thoughts about the film, and we’ll see where we go from here. I know I’m forgetting something, so I may do a follow-up at some point.
SPOILERS begin after the first pic, end after the second.
- Overall, the look of the film is pretty much dead on. All the characters look right, all the sets look right, a number of the scenes are laid out to look like how they were presented in the comic. In fact, the adaptation of the story to film is pretty faithful, at least through the first half, allowing for some omissions and streamlining of the story. As I was watching, I was thinking to myself “okay, that was issue #1″ (a few minutes pass) “okay, there was issue #2″ and so on.
In the second half of the movie, I had the impression that things were getting a little more compressed/streamlined, a few more little things were getting changed around, not always for the better. I have a specific example in mind that I’ll bring up near the end of the “review” here.
- I admit it: I was bothered that the team actually referred to themselves as “The Watchmen.”
- This film sure felt like “cut scenes ahoy,” didn’t it? The director’s cut is going to be like seven hours long.
- Things that appeared to bother other people that didn’t really bother me all that much:
1. The costumes, particularly for the older team, looking just a little too goofy, a little too much like the live action Tick series. Well…yeah, they’re supposed to look gaudy and sorta goofy looking. That’s pretty much how they looked in the comics, too.
2. The “slow motion” effects in the fight scenes. It wasn’t all that distracting to me. In fact, I thought the fight scenes were pretty effective.
3. Dr. Manhattan’s penis. Yeah, so it was a penis. Big whoop.
4. The music. I don’t know that we’ve had a superhero movie in recent memory that used so many songs from popular culture. Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, even Nena with “99 Luftballons.” This movie certainly didn’t sound like any other superhero flick. Maybe they were songs we’ve all heard a million times before, but…hell, I can handle a million and one. (And perhaps this was a commentary on the overuse of said songs, by cramming them all together into one soundtrack? If so, that’d be one of the very few, if any, overt instances of the film commenting on itself, following in the self-commentary of the source material.)
- Okay, how awesome was Matt Frewer as Moloch? Okay, he wasn’t in the film very much, but I thought he did a good job. Plus I just plain like Matt Frewer. I even watched his short-lived sitcom Doctor Doctor. You remember Doctor Doctor, don’t you? Sure you do.
- The sex scene: okay, we get that Dan got his mojo back after tooling around in the costume. And perhaps the sex scene made a counterpoint to the excess of bloody violence in the film. But…well, as a customer put it, “that was a whole lot of thrusts we had to watch onscreen.” Someone somewhere in the MPAA was keeping a count and making sure this film didn’t cross over in the X territory.
- Kid Chris noted this, and he ain’t wrong: why is Ozymandias’ genetically altered lynx Bubastis in the film? In the comic, Bubastis’ main purpose is to demonstrate the current level of genetic engineering available to Ozymandias, foreshadowing the alien creature construct from the original ending.
- And speaking of the changed ending: the new ending, with Ozymandias destroying cities around the world and making it look like Manhattan did it, in order to get the world to pull back from world war and unite against a common enemy, didn’t sit quite right with me for one reason. Manhattan was known to be American, and long associated with the U.S. military. It seems to me the rest of the world would be awfully pissed at the U.S. for losing control of their weapon, rather than wanting to buddy up with them against a renegade superhero.
Now, I suggested this to a few internet pals via the e-mail, and they had a lengthy debate why this would or would not be the case. I personally thought having the alleged threat be completely “outside” would be more conducive to the kind of worldwide joining together established in the story’s ending, leaving no room for recriminations or accusations how the world situation is the U.S.’s fault. But it was pointed out that with either ending, this sort of unification was likely to be shortlived anyway. Or that the need to behave with a vengeful Manhattan supposedly watching would override any desire to retaliate against the U.S. Or, you know, whatever…there are plenty of good arguments on either side of why either plan would work/wouldn’t work. Basically the plan of choice works because the people making this story want it to. The end.
Anyway, despite all that, it really didn’t bother me all that much. Just thought it was worth thinking about.
- One other aspect of the ending that bothered me was the “nothing ever ends” line being given to Laurie to say as “something that Jon would say” rather than having Manhattan actually deliver the line to Ozymandias as he does in the book. Sorta undermines the impact.
- Oh, and Nite Owl doing the “NOOOOOOO!” thing and falling to his knees, near the end there…? Really, movie, that’s what you want to do? You sure?
- And this isn’t really specific to the film, but it just sort of dawned on me as I left the theatre and can’t believe I hadn’t thought about this before. So, the clock motif that repeats itself throughout the story, with the minute hand always stuck at just before twelve? It occurs to me that the hydrogen symbol on Manhattan’s forehead is yet another repeat of that motif, only with the “hand” (as it were) at the twelve o’clock position. At least, there’s nothing in the “clock’s” face visible as a distinct minute hand, so if we’re going to extend the clock symbolism, it would read as both hands being straight up at 12.
Thought that was a bit interesting. And, as Kid Chris mentioned to me when I brought this up to him, this particular bit of symbolism has more resonance in the film version than the comic version, given the altered ending.
EDIT: Well, I feel dumb. One of my readers has an equally valid, if not superior, interpretation.
That may have sounded like I disliked the movie more than I did. And no, I didn’t hate the movie. It was entertaining enough, and if Watchmen
was going to be made into a film, by hook or by crook, this
film is at least reasonably acceptable. I don’t know if it’s going to convince anyone new to the property that the source material is, in fact, “the most celebrated graphic novel of all time” unless they go and check out the book itself. But the film stands as an interesting novelty, a sidebar to the graphic novel rather than any kind of replacement…not that anything really could
replace the graphic novel, mind you.
Well, maybe that Watchmen driving game I hoped for a while back, but that’s pretty much it.
…as I went to the 11 PM showing of Watchmen, and I’m now writing this at about 3 in the morning with a New Comics Day starting in, oh, about six hours.
On the plus side of going to an 11 PM showing on a Monday night: there were a total of four people in the theatre, including my girlfriend and I. On the minus side: I’m writing this at 3 in the morning, as previously noted.
I’ll probably write some kind of longer review of the movie at some point, but in short: better than I was expecting, but the adaptation was almost all surface-level, with little of the depth (or, as should be expected, impact) of the original work. The book was better, but you knew that.
But what the hell, I got to see it for free, so I’m not complaining. Thanks, customer who gave us special promotional film passes from his radio job!
Anyway, enough about that…I’m off to bed.
#2, the world’s only
comic about a luchador gorilla scientist, is now out in stores…and also available as a free download from the official site
in a variety of formats. However, I do recommend buying your own copies
because, c’mon, you want to be seen strolling around town with a copy or three of this comic tucked under your arm. Men will cower, women will swoon!
Seriously though, this comic is a lot of fun. It’s an unpretentious, unabashedly goofy comic book that evokes the silliness of the Silver Age while still forging its own enjoyably peculiar path. El Gorgo is highly recommended!
Also, I’m selling a variety of items on the eBay
to meet some expenses, with a few of those auctions ending this evening. If you want to help a pal out, and get some actual merchandise that I personally have touched with my own filthy, filthy hands, then please feel free to bid!
The first of DC’s “After Watchmen” dollar book promotions is due out this week, featuring issue #21 of Saga of the Swamp Thing
. I’ve already discussed
my thoughts on how this particular promotion will do, but I am
curious to see how the Watchmen
graphic novel will do this week, now that the film has been released and, traditionally, any sales bump that comics made into movies may have experienced tend to dissipate right about now. We did move an awful lot of copies over the weekend, which was a bit of a relief as, due to a reordering mix-up (and the fact that reorders over the last few weeks have been delayed due to Diamond moving warehouses), I accidentally doubled the number of copies I’d actually wanted for the movie’s opening. Thankfully that worked out, due to a combination of some increased demand over the last few days and the fact that I set up a small display of the books by the register for impulse sales.
Once Watchmen burn-out has set in, I expect the sales to drop like a stone on these things, but the real trick is whether or not that drop is temporary. Watchmen has always sold well, to the point where I kept thinking “okay, that’s it, everyone’s read Watchmen by now,” but then we’d sell more. It’s truly a perennial seller, still moving copies long after sales on flash-in-the-pan “hot” books like Civil War have dwindled down to relatively nothing. I’m hoping Watchmen will eventually recover from the post-movie dip, like Hellboy did for us after its films, and not simply continue to languish on the shelf like, say, Sin City or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.*
Of course, if sales on Watchmen are still up, up, up this week too, I’m not going to complain about being wrong. But eventually the movie-inspired sales bump will go away, and the question remains if and when the book will recover. I suppose it depends if the book’s reputation remains “greatest graphic novel ever” or if it transmutes to “oh, yeah, I saw that movie…boy, that was stupid.”
I’ve been meaning to link to this and just never got around to it, but so long as I’m talking about sales: Johanna compiles and examines Archie Comics’ sales for 2008
. And I’m not just linking because I helped a little. (Very little!) The numbers are somehow both surprising and yet not totally unexpected, and you should go take a look.
* I should note the fact that Hellboy is still a Going Thing helps counter the impact of the movies. League is showing some stirrings of life in trade sales again, as a new installment approaches. If Sin City were to have a new series, its backlist might start moving again, too.
However, none of this bodes well for Watchmen, which won’t have any kind of follow-up installments. Presumably.
CLICK FOR FULL AD
yet another item pulled from Batman #237 (June 1971)
You can see a picture of the box here
. And c’mon, they couldn’t spring for yet another attachment to convert the compass into a sundial…you gotta provide your own stick and/or pencil? Though I gotta give ‘em credit for that firestarter attachment.
ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK #3
CAME OUT THIS WEEK, HONEST
I’m even holding a copy of this week’s Comic Shop News
, to authenticate that both the comic and the CSN came out this week, or something, though I suppose that really doesn’t hold up as “evidence,” as such, for future generations who may look back to us to fill in gaps in the record re: comic book shipping. Because that’s important and surely future historians will want to know.
Anyway, there you all go. Not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary story, not a cheap color copy mock-up I slapped together. It’s the Real Thing, baby…a photo taken by pal Dorian of me, holding the actual and much-delayed Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk #3 in my hot little hands.
So, you all ready for issue #4, due Any Day Now?
Also, despite appearances, I’m not giving the comic or the newsletter the “smell test.”
I don’t want to be all “people of years past had different slang than us and it’s slightly amusing!” on you, but there were a couple of turns of phrases in this letter (from Batman #237, June 1971) that I enjoyed, so I thought I’d just show the whole thing:
But this letter also reminded me of the times when the publishers would, if not apologize, at least attempt to explain to (or warn!) their readerships about impending price increases. That there’s even space devoted to a dialogue about this between the readers and the editors on the letters pages is sort of…quaint, I guess. Well, letter pages in and of themselves probably seem sort of quaint, too, nowadays, what with all of you with the blogs and the message boards and the Twitters and the transistor radios.
Here’s a thought that crossed my mind the other day: it occurs to me that selling Tales of the Black Freighter (the pirate comic embedded in Watchmen) as a separate story is like taking the choruses out of Greek tragedies and presenting those as standalone narratives.
Your thoughts, internet pals?
This is from the back pages of issue #237 of Batman
(Dec. 1971), where surely it traumatized the children it didn’t tantalize.
Also, from the Golden Age reprint in this same comic: Things Batman Doesn’t Say Nearly Often Enough Anymore:
Customer Jim has a new column up over at Comics Bulletin, in which he discusses his most recent visit to our shop and his perusal of our bargain bins. He mentions that he was saddened a bit by the discovery of an issue of the recent Spirit series in there. I thought I’d use Jim’s nice article as a springboard for some bargain bin discussion here.
Well, the vast majority of comics that are in our bargain boxes come from collections acquired at the shop. Specifically, they’re the parts of collections that are basically “thrown in” with the stuff we’re actually interested in buying, and thus not anything into which we have any real money. There’s not really anything wrong with much of this dumped material. They may simply be “mid-grade,” VG copies that are common and not terribly pricey (like those Doctor Stranges Jim mentioned), and thus not in demand by the more condition-conscious collector. Or (or perhaps, in addition) it may be that we’ve already got enough of it in stock, and it’s not worth going through the effort to add more copies into the database and put ‘em away in the back.
Some of the bargain bin contents come from overstock that we’ve pulled from our own backroom, but a couple of years ago we sold a lot of that bargain bin-destined overstock in a massive bulk stock sale (which some of you may remember reading about on my site here) so we don’t have a whole lot of that any more. Not saying we couldn’t stand to make another pass through the backroom and pull more overstock out, but we’ve got plenty of dumped-collection stock to go through before I do that again.
By and large I don’t put a whole lot of very recent material in the bargain bins. Partially because I don’t customers to think “well, crud, I just paid $3.99 for this last month, and here it is for a buck,” and partially because I don’t want people to pass up buying something new on the rack in the hopes of getting it out of the bargain box a couple of months later. In other words, when issues come off the new comics rack, I’m not keeping a couple of each aside to throw in the discount box.
But occasionally I’ll dump a recent book into those boxes, maybe to encourage someone to try the series out, but mostly because, yes, I didn’t feel like going through the effort to process the book and add it into the backstock, particularly if we’ve got plenty already.
This is the case with the Spirit book. It’s not a huge seller, but it’s a consistent seller on the new rack, but with little back issue movement. As such, I don’t have any real incentive to maintain much of a backstock on the title. When we ended up with a couple of extra copies from some collection or ‘nother, into the bargain bins they went.
The bargain bin is a useful tool to turn on people to some old, cool comics, or to help us clear out some slower selling items, or to otherwise expose that portion of our customer base that doesn’t usually buy back issues to older comics at an attractive price. Plus, I have plenty of kids who come in with only a buck or two to spend, and the bargain boxes give them some old books to choose from without having to worry about paying high collectible values. If I can put some Curt Swan, Marshall Rogers, or even some Kirby into the hands of those kids, those bins have done their job.
And if they take home a few chromium/embossed Turok #1s, even better. The more of those that become Somebody Else’s Problem, the happier I am.
In other news:
- I have to admit, I have a lot of customers very excited about the Watchmen movie, with several talking about attending the midnight showing Thursday night/Friday morning. I’m going to get a whole lot of “have you seen it yet”s over the weekend, but that’s okay.
I imagine we’re going to see a very strong opening weekend. The second week dropoff will be what I’m interested in seeing. Reviews are middling, but the comic fans I know who have seen it have really liked it, so who knows.
If you’re new to the material, and you need some background before seeing the film, pal Dorian can help you out. (SPOILERS at the link, if you honestly don’t know the story.)
Basically, the point of talking about Watchmen here is to justify my using one of my Twitter posts for the subject of this entry.
- This probably belonged in yesterday’s Swamp Thing linkapalooza, but hey, better late than never: a very familiar-looking plant creature from the 1979 2000 AD annual.
- Here’s a drawing of me from the soon-to-be-deceased Kid Chris:
I threw a piece of cardboard behind it so you can see that it was drawn on Superman “S”-shield-shaped paper for extra nerdiness. I find the stink lines to be a somewhat unnecessary embellishment. Although I’d totally read Frog by Day.
Here are a handful of Links of Note that I’ve other come across or have been sent to me by you, the kind-hearted and generous readers:
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