§ March 12th, 2009 § Filed under watchmen Comments Off on Watchedmen.

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.

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