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May 1, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: Watchmen

Here's my long-delayed, slightly-anticipated Watchmen review, presented in "Random Thoughts by Letter" format for no good reason. Well, one good reason - see "J" below.

A is for…Ackerman, Malin. Unlike a certain actress that I call out below, I don't get the hullabaloo over Ackerman's performance. The character of Laurie Jupiter is changed somewhat from the graphic novel's version (summed up: she's more of a bitch in the book), but that hardly seems Ackerman's fault. Get mad at "typical Hollywood B.S." if you want a scapegoat - the women are marginalized somewhat here.

B is for…Bad Fletch. I saw the film in early March. Today is May 1st. In my defense, I had planned on seeing the film a second time (and did, last week). It's just that, in between, I also read the graphic novel (for the first time). All part of my master plan.

C is for…Crater, Galle. You learn something new every day. Here I thought that both the novel and film were being lame as they zoomed way out to reveal a smiley face on the surface of Mars. Not so.

D is for…Doomsday Clock. Even prior to reading the novel, I hated how literal the usage of it was in the movie. C'mon - three dudes standing around a clock and manually changing it? Ugh.

E is for…Ego. Alan Moore's been burned a few times in the past with movie adaptations, but from everything I've read about his reaction to this adaptation, he really needs to get over himself here. I'm no literary genius, but it's practically a carbon copy. Just see it and shut everybody up already.

F is for…Frewer, Matt, who plays Moloch. Nice to see Max Headroom getting some work in a major motion picture. IMDb tells me that he was also in director Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead.

G is for…Gugino, Carla. She proves with each subsequent role that she's not half the actress that she was in Son-in-Law. Some brutal work here.

H is for…Haley, Jackie Earle. What more can be said? He's the heart and soul of the film, and manages to get to be comic relief as well. Sweet gig.

I is for…I'm happy for Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The guy turned 43 last week and hasn't managed to have a true breakout role until now? Sadly, this one's gonna be hard to top - his is probably the second most important character after Rorschach. Oh, and he looks like Javier Bardem in this picture...maybe that's why his breakout has taken this long...

J is for…Just because I wanna be different. With what's probably the most written-about film of the year, you gotta pick some kinda shtick if you wanna stick out.

K is for…Kevin Costner. When the film was being batted around in pre-production in the early 90s, Costner was considered for the role of Nite Owl. Better? Worse? Discuss.

L is for…Lame. As in that sex scene in "Archie." Nine Levels of Lame lame.

M is for…Muse. The trailer with Muse's "Take a Bow" is one of the best uses of pop music in a trailer I can recall. Haunting song, appropriate lyrics, not a well-known song to mainstream America...perfect.

N is for…Nixon. I'd have preferred that they played this one a bit straighter rather than making him sooooo exaggerated. A little bit of realism might've added a bit more weight, rather than taking us out of the film to laugh at his Pinnochio-like nose.

O is for…Origin sequence. The Dr. Manhattan origin tale, set to Philip Glass' "Pruit Igoe & Prophecies" is an awesome, haunting 10 minutes of film.

P is for…Penis, Blue. Just because you can't write about Wathcmen and not mention it.

Q is for…Quixotic. There's nothing really quixotic about the movie (save for perhaps the 20+ year struggle to get it made), but I just really like that word and wanted to use it.

R is for…Robert Zimmerman aka Bob Dylan. He has three of his songs on the Forrest Gump-like soundtrack.

S is for…Squid, The. Yeah, I saw the film prior to reading the novel and yeah, I believe a consumer will just about always prefer the form of media consumed first, but I don't see how anyone could complain about the revised ending Snyder produced. The entire Squid "subplot," if you can even call it that, just utterly unnecessary in the novel.

T is for…Tales of the Black Freighter. Fans of the graphic novel might be upset that it's not in the film, but again, I think a wise choice was made to cut it from the nearly-three hour film. Besides, it would have confused the hell out of audience members that hadn't read the book.

U is for…Under the Hood, yet another thing that was excised from the graphic novel. However, this book-within-the-book (and it's author's character - Hollis Mason) should not have been excised. The 10 or so pages of text it takes up in the novel provide excellent background information on the Minutemen and their origins. I suppose the fantastic opening credit sequence covered much of the ground, but a bigger shout-out to Hollis might have been nice.

V is for…Violence. I'm the last person that I thought might ever take a film to task for being violent, but I guess I just found the film too appreciative of it. Borders on torture porn (in type, not quantity).

W is for…Wrestler, The. Darren Aronofsky was considered to direct at some point. Can you even imagine?

X is for…Xylophone. I'm sure one of the songs on the soundtrack had a xylophone in it.

Y is for…You need to help me come up with something for the letter "Y."

Z is for…Zack Snyder. I'm no staunch Zack Snyder defender, but the guy's been given a hell of a hard time for the tagline, which claimed that the film was from the "visionary director of 300. Guess what, folks? I'd bet big money that Snyder had zilch to do with said tagline. And besides - he may not be Spielberg, but he's no Michael Bay, either. He just needs to get over slo-mo sequences...

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin!"


9 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Watchmen"

RIPE Creative said...

Y is for: Yen, Elbert. A texture paint supervisor for the film who probably didn't get enough credit for a doing a good job, or being nice, or something.

Y is also for: Years. That's how long it seemed to take you to write this review.

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

Fletch,

I have to respectfully disagree with you on the importance of both the Black Freighter and the Squid subplot.

Well, you didn't really say that Black Freighter was unnecessary, but whatever.

Watchmen, to me at least, is much more about the destructive potential of everyday human beings than it is about silly men who dress up in costumes to beat the hell out of criminals. The Squid subplot and the stuff at the newsstand (as well as the ultimate fate of Hollis Mason) are the plot points upon which that rather large theme revolves.

Besides that, the ending doesn't make a lick of sense. In the comic, Russia and the United States call a truce because they're being attacked by a supposed extraterrestrial force. In the movie, Russia and the United States call a truce because the United States' superweapon supposedly turned on the United States. If anything, Russia would have moved in and Dr. Strangelove'd the hell out of their enemy, especially when it became clear that Manhattan had left the building.

Besides that, for a guy who seems to love visceral, stunning images, Snyder passed up on a chance to paint a scene of grim, Lovecraftian horror for a slow motion bomb going off.

Lame. He deserves all the hell he can get for changing it.

Nick said...

I agree with you, Fletch. I also disagree quite a bit with Paul, here.

I thought the Squid was highly stupid in the book, and would have even been more stupid in the movie. In fact, the Squid almost made me hate the book. And I would have, had it not been for the great "Rorschach's journal" ending that made everything so wonderful again.

Much like Alan Moore, the uber-fans of the book who hated the movie need to get over themselves (sorry, Paul).

Though, I do agree with Paul in one respect, and that's the Black Freighter stuff would have been good to see in the movie. I thought that gave it an added depth, and I await it quite much in the extended DVD.

Oh, and it's about damn time you post this up :P .

briandean79 said...

Fletch,

I posted about the Black Freighter & Under The Hood DVD on SOTSG. It added something, but it certainly wasn't missed in the movie, and it would have been a real task to insert it into the movie in a logical way.

I agree wholeheartedly about the Squid, the movie doesn't miss it. I think the fact that Dr Manhattan flipped out and bombed NYC as well as other cities adequately explains why both the USSR & USA would band together against the common threat. The fact that millions of Americans lost their lives would be enough to convince the Soviets that the US had lost control of their weapon, you know?

Tommy Salami said...

Fine review- it wasn't awful and it wasn't mediocre and it wasn't perfection. But a great job was done with a very difficult adaptation. I thought the different ending was brilliant, as it makes humanity band together and also removes the crutch that is Dr Manhattan, a walking god. That was an improvement, but some things didn't translate well to film. The sex scene didn't bother me, it lovingly recalled gratuitous sex scenes of the 70s and 80s. But yeah, it distracted a lot of people, as did the waggling blue wang. It was like the end of Boogie Nights for hours.
But I enjoyed the movie greatly, and think it is one of the best comic adaptations. A great movie? Maybe not, but I found the hate against it contrived.

Fletch said...

I think Briandean summed it up best, regarding the omission of the Black Freighter:

"It added something, but it certainly wasn't missed in the movie, and it would have been a real task to insert it into the movie in a logical way."

Had the film not been nearly three hours already, and had there been a way to get it in there without it being confusing, I would have liked to see the Black Freighter stuff, but it felt like it was mostly a mirror being held to the present-day action more than it's own sidestory. At least Snyder squeezed the characters in there, even in bit parts.

Also not missed was the prison psych's sidestory with his wife. That was altogether unnecessary in the book.

My overall opinion lies with Tommy's. It's not the best ever, but it's as faithful as can be expected, and probably much more so than any other adaptation.

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

I'm of the opinion that Snyder captured the look of the comic as well as anybody could, but that his adaptation missed the point.

I wanted to write a post about how Watchmen isn't as faithful to the comic as it has been praised/derided for, but I think Watchmania is over until the DVD comes out.

Looking at old posts, my mood swung drastically on Snyder from pre-release hype to post-release deflation.

Before: http://carefuleugene.blogspot.com/2008/09/dawn-of-dead-what-could-have-been.html

After: http://carefuleugene.blogspot.com/2009/03/visionary.html

Maybe I'm more of a Moore fanboy than I give myself credit for.

David Bishop said...

As much as I love Simon & Garfunkel, I found the use of "The Sounds of Silence" to be a little out of place.

Craig said...

I loved this movie, and thought it was so much better than recent superhero movies. Dark and twisted with a great story and actors who fit the roles. Well directed and very true to the novel.