Monday, March 16, 2009
Watchmen: Not Enough Sugar Cubes.
So I saw that Watchmen movie. It was okay. Overall I was impressed with how close it was to the source material, albeit to the shallowest possible reading of that material. The whole thing held together well, and aside from a few nitpicks, and I think it would make sense to someone who was unfamiliar with the story. The problem is, I can't really say I'd recommend it to anyone who hasn't read the book. I think anyone's first exposure to Watchmen ought to be the book.
Movie good. Book much better.
They probably should have just put a speedo on ol' Doc Manhattan. Ive heard that the movie isn't doing so well because a squeamish America can't deal with that blue wanger all up in their grill for 2.5 hours. Show Americans gore, show them tits, show them torture and death, but for God's sake, Zack Snyder, what were you thinking showing them two and a half hours of blue IMAX pecker?
I disliked the alley fight scene, because it badly undercut the idea that Laurie and Dan's hands were cleaner than Rorschach's. As they whirled through the group of knottops, casually stabbing one guy in the neck here, shattering another muggers arm to gory splinters there, using a third as a human shield, Nite-Owl and Silk Spectre were just as frightening and seemingly as merciless. I know the two didn't have a "code against killing" as such, but their ruthlessness was part of the amped-up aspect of this film that jarred against the subtler tone of the original story.
For that matter, why did all the Watchmen seem to have super powers? A major point of the original story was that only Doctor Manhattan had superhuman powers with the rest of the cast falling firmly into the "costumed adventurer" camp of superheroes. At different points in the film, the Comedian, Silk Spectre and Nite-Owl all perform in action scenes well beyond human norms, despite part of the point of the story being that they are all retired, old and schlubby. They all took punishment that seemed to devastate other, normal human bodies within the same story, they all moved with superhuman speed and skill, striking enemies with bone shattering force after years of retirement. As an action film, I 'm sure Watchmen felt obligated to deliver high octane fight scenes, and I understand action movies and action movie rules, but they kinda clash directly with one of the major themes of the story.
The once-shocking violence of the graphic novel is updated with the genteel touch of the man who brought you the breezy comic opera "300". It obviously had its effect on the Saw crowd , as I heard a few ecstatic sighs and whispered "sweet!"s as Rorschach's meat cleaver came down on the child murderer's head. Again, this was extreme Watchmen, and the volume was cranked to eleven.
I could happily go the rest of my life without another "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!" death scene.
I don't see how the new ending was any big improvement over the original (also flawed) ending. It sure seems like if Doctor Manhattan did go rogue, the U.S. would get and perhaps deserve most of the blame, not be embraced by the brotherhood of man. But then I find any ending that finds mankind uniting under a banner of unity and brotherhood to be a pretty unlikely prospect ever, regardless the circumstances. Certainly not for more than a week, tops.
Mixed feelings aside, but there was bound to be a big Hollywood adaptation of Watchmen sooner or later. If there had to be a sped-up, superficially-read Hollywood version of Watchmen, thank Kirby it was this one.
Always remember, it could have been much, much worse.