Review: Watchmen

watchmen-reviewWalking into Zack Snyder’s expensive big-screen version of the seminal 1980’s graphic novel, Watchmen, I knew two things: The story fused superhero lore with Reagan-era cold war paranoia and a Dashiell Hammett hard-boiled mystery. And that the seeds of many a modern comic book or graphic novel and their film adaptations came from the pages of Alan Moore and David Gibbon’s book. All in all, the film is pretty compelling myth-making, albeit for those who are willing to invest in its highly specialized world. It is smarter and ambitious than than swath of lazy comic book films popping into the multiplex every year (Ang Lee’s Hulk and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight excepted) even if it is not quite up to snuff as a pure popcorn muncher or really have any semblance of humanity on display.

The movie struggles to balance its dark images (gore, nudity and sexual violence are not watered down here) while also providing a more audience friendly comic book spectacle. Watchmen hums and sizzles when it is focused on the film’s core strength: The dense morass of personality issues and ethical dilemmas when people take it upon themselves to be above the common man. How society and the powers that be adapt to having these ‘wild cards’ occasionally available for one use or another. As heroes, villains and everything in between (And Watchmen lumps nearly all of its characters in the fuzzy middle ground – most of these heroes are more scary and dangerous than comforting and caring). The recent Batman film treads these same waters, but somehow manages to make the people (Bruce Wayne, Harvey Dent, and Rachel Dawes) worth caring about. All hints of real intimacy or the tender side of human nature is completely absent here (the exception being a masculine moment involving forgiveness and a handshake). Even when the film stops to give nearly every character a complete back-story in its extensive 160+ minute run time. Even classic noir like The Maltese Falcon or more modern noir fusions like Blade Runner had a moment of convincing or at least curious intimacy. Watchmen is playing more in the neighborhood of Kiss Me Deadly – throwing kindness, mercy, or charity out the window to merely replace it with “occasionally something beautiful is born out of something vulgar.” I am unclear as to whether or not it is saying that the defeat in Vietnam made American a better place, or only if this applies to ill-intended conceptions. Tempting, perhaps, to say that this is the Zodiac of superhero films, but it not quite. By a fair bit.

Watchmen instead favours navel gazing and deconstruction over investment in the characters or their eventual ends or personal interactions. Yet it proposes an Outer Limits style solution (explicitly referencing the TV show at one point) to the Cold War and looming nuclear Armageddon. A solution that is both costly and transient to the point of being a bad joke. The bloody Have A Nice Day button which is shown in many configurations is quite apt. “Everything is so tangled up” is a quote from the film that sums up the modern world, its myriad interconnected problems and the dark realization that superheroes are probably not going to help humanity all that much for all their noise and furor. It goes so far as to postulate that most of them are otherworldly or alienated at best (Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias) or psychotic at worst (Rorschach, The Comedian). Even the the sympathetic or naive ones like Night Owl II and Silk Spectre II have serious issues (He can’t get it up without the suit on, she is emotionally stunted and on firmer ground kicking thugs assess). While I did not particularly care for any of them one whiff, it was fascinating where the consequences of their actions were going. The road to hell is paved with the best of intentions gone terribly awry and elaborately constructed solutions along the way are transient sanctuaries at the very best. The Black and White approach is as equally untenable as is the path of compromise. Yea. Nihilistic and Bleak are two valid descriptors for this enterprise.

Yet how to swallow the camp and patent silliness of a sex scene that goes well past the conceit that conventional intimacy is a failure for these folks while latex outfits, busting heads and naughty night-time sojourns on the Owl-bus as a definite turn on, or the cornball Egyptian super-palace in Antarctica or the overblown clock-palace on Mars? It probably works better on the printed page (your mileage may vary). When the film resorts to ‘comic book action’ (perhaps a desire to appeal to the four quadrant movie-going audience) and Snyder’s typical slow-mo and speed ramp photography (thankfully this is much less than 300) or takes somewhat overblown contemplative trips to Mars things are clumsy and awkward. And what’s the deal here? Are these folks (Dr. Manhattan excepted of course) supposed to have superpowers or not, haven’t they been sort of retired for a few years after failing to succeed The Minutemen first generation heroes? I’m not looking for a training montage here to justify their instant return to duty, but it sure seems like the movie would play better grounding these folks as people rather than kinda-sorta-maybe giving them heightened senses and fighting ability. (Nitpick alert: Why did Rorschach’s mask have to be animated? Would a simple blot be too underplayed? And what was up with Matt Frewer’s ears? I guess the ‘reality/fantasy’ was not a priority to establish, but being in both worlds so to speak undercuts the film in small ways.) The rescue of children from a burning building fails to generate any sort of altruism or notion of heroism. The films gloss does it more than a bit of a disservice. Imagine if this thing was shot more like Seven? When the film is scribbling furiously in the margins and finding new was to re-evaluate comic book heroes and villains and their belief systems it sizzles. It being an ensemble piece and not a ‘lone hero’ story, that the acting varies wildly doesn’t hurt things too much. For the record, Jeffrey Dean Morgan essays a despicable yet totally fascinating blend of The Joker and Iron Man known as The Comedian with real aplomb. Likewise Billy Crudup and Jackie Earl Haley command the screen even as their characters are equally unsympathetic. Others fare not so well and are either forgettable in their line readings (some of the dialogue is howl worthy) or down right silly. Comic book geeks eat this stuff up, but for all its hard R rating, much of it plays pretty childish.

When Watchmen deals in bold block typeface with the national character and narrative of the United States of America by way of an alternate United States it is hit and miss. Yet, dense reams of exposition are handled remarkably with real gusto and grace. Two sequences stand out as remarkably achieved: The first is a sort of ‘wax museum’ opening credits sequence which charts the history of the United States after costumed heroes (normal folks with a streak of goodwill and can-do spirit) start plying their trade to help folks which eventually results in the double-edged sword of the same costumed vigilantes starting to take it upon themselves to get involved with world politics (From JFK to Moscow). Iconic American imagery (from Betty Paige to Apple Computer’s epic “1984” inspired commercial) all compete for space in the background and foreground without ever slowing things down. Snippets of the perils of being a costumed hero from being shot to ending up in the mental ward are all articulated. The source of “No Capes!” which like many elements borrowed for Brad Bird’s The Incredibles show up here, as does the ‘outlawing’ of this type of behavior because the heroes behave as if they are above society. The introduction to a bonafide superman in the form of Dr. Manhattan, someone who is without a doubt beyond human is also handled well in a satisfying blend of graphics and performance leads to very significant changes in how the world turns out. The choice of bringing in Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Pat Buchanan and other political players as full characters, rather than background exposition makes for an embarrassingly bad high school rendition of Dr. Strangelove. Perhaps it would have been best to do what Good Night and Good Luck did with Sen. Joseph McCarthy, leave him to the TV and radio sound bytes, a ghostly and powerful presence rather than the goofy actor in face paint and a rubber nose. Better is the use of iconic popular music in the film to set the tone. From a pleasant restaurant date set to 99 Luft Balloons to a funeral with Simon & Garfunkel, to the alternate history credits with Bob Dylan and a third act journey set to the strains of Jimi Hendrix. And when in doubt (And Nick Cave is not available), you can never really go wrong with Leonard Cohen. These are not simply ‘cool music video’ moments, but actually drive the narrative, plot and story forward. My only disappointment with this is that they were unable to work XTC’s Dear God somewhere in there. I can think of just the scene, too.

Dr. Manhattan’s “Just how super is super?” metamorphosis (via the usual freak science accident) is not just hinted at in the ‘introduction montage’ but is a rather thoroughly explored idea in Watchmen. The rich scenarios around his very presence elevates the movie in an interesting way that was also touched upon in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. The hero as a God. (Amusingly, the industrial baron Ozymandias makes good coin marketing toys of all the superheroes, another form of iconography, worship (the fanboys) in the culture). In fact, while watching Watchmen, most of its dense wellspring of ideas have already been spun out hither and yon into core elements of other comic book films (some great, some not so great). It is an interesting to see all these ideas vying for screen time here, and that the movie is coming out so far after so many of the ‘borrowers.’ (Hell, even Rorschach’s rousing stint in prison vaguely recalls a similar scene in last years Hancock) This should make for some re-watch value of the film if only for all of the images and ideas in the margins of the screen. No worries, however, the main themes and ideas are easy enough to digest upon the first go around. While the emotional arcs are either stunted or not even bothered with in the first place, Watchmen is a wax museum tableaux of an interesting time and place. One worth a visit.

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Rusty James
Guest

That's about what I expected from the movie. I think I'm gonna buy thursday night tickets right now.

Dave
Guest

Well, you said you were middle of the road on the movie and your review firmly sits on the fence.

As someone who went in having just re-read the book, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it come to life on the big screen. Of course, my experience would be quite different from Kurt's as I did not need to concentrate on the story at all.

Highlights: The Comedian – actor and acting were right on the money.

Lowlights: Did not like the casting / portrayal of Ozymandias much.

The rest of the cast were quite good (Silk Spectre II had a few shaky moments).

Rusty James
Guest

Seeing it tomorrow night.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Not happy with the movie, though I'm trying to decided on where I fall on the hatred scale. Right now I'm wavering between "Fucking stupid!" and "Fucking bullshit!".

Not a lot of change from the comic, but every one they made was awful.

Ian Muttoo
Guest

Great review! Can't wait to see this.

Andrew James
Admin

Matt, do you say this speaking objectively about the film alone or are you injecting your knowledge of the comic into your opinion. Either is fine, just curious which one. I assume you mean it's bullshit compared to the comic you've read.

Also, thanks for the invite last night but I was dog tired from a 13 hour work day. Plus, if I see this movie (and that's a big if), it's not going to be at the Lagoon.

Jonathan
Admin

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Rusty James
Guest

Do any of you read BigHollywood? It quickly degenerated into a pointlessly redundant cesspool of bitterness and racial resentment but their newest Watchmen thread is a must read if only for this one comment.

@ for the first time in memory, the cool menacing character that the sullen adolescents will identify with is a right winger. can rorschach imagery possibly cut into che t-shiirt sales?

http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/bwillingham/200

Ross Miller
Guest

Great review, Kurt. Can always count on you to get into areas of discussion a lot of people might not even think of!:P

And I LOVED this film. And I'm saying that as a film fan not AT ALL familiar with the source material (tbh I hadn't even heard of it until the movie was announced). For more you can check out my review if you want – http://www.movie-world.moonfruit.com/#/watchmen/4

Rusty James
Guest

Count me among the dissenters who doesn't believe the squid vagina monster is so unfilmable.

Frankly, Id rather they try and fail doing something bold than give us something safe.

Marina Antunes
Admin

That graphic and the line "Beautiful and poetic but missing something" pretty much sums up my feelings. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. Something is missing and I think Kurt nailed it: it's the lack of humanity in any of these characters.

I do like the themes and ideas here, particularly the fact that the one individual that is less in touch with humanity is also the one that saves it. Need more time to mull this over, and perhaps a second viewing.

Kurt
Guest

I was going to go tonite for a second screening, but then pretty much it was to see the Opening Credits a second time, now that they are online, I'll wait for the 4hour version on DVD(which I expect to be worse, I don't think the movie needed the 'pirate comic stuff' even as it works pretty well in the comic).

Rusty James
Guest

@ which I expect to be worse, I don’t think the movie needed the ‘pirate comic stuff’

but the man on the street stuff is so important. When the "bomb" drops it happens to real people. There's a whole story line there that's as important to the books theme as the rest.

Although, I agree with the sentiment that Snyder's film would be improved by scaling back. But I am curious to see the rest of the footage in the movie.

Rusty James
Guest

@ I do like the themes and ideas here, particularly the fact that the one individual that is less in touch with humanity is also the one that saves it.

Dr. Manhattan? I don't think he saves humanity although it's hard to say. He certaintly almost destroyed humanity.

In their own way they all save humanity but they all embody flaws that threaten humanity as well.

Laurie's tie to Jon is what convinces him to re-invest in humanity again. But she accomplishes this task by being such a mess. And Jon's "interest" in humanity is why they're facing destruction in the first place.

Rorsharch is a fully qualified sociopath. But he's the only one willing to follow his principals to the end. And to make moral decissions when the others cower.

It's interesting to understand the origins of these characters. Rorsharch is based on The Question but also another Steve Ditko creation Mr. A. Both of them embody Ditko's Objectivist ideals and he once described his power as "deliberately knowing what is right and acting accordingly".

Veidt has ingenuity, discipline and self determination. He's the only one unwilling to surrender man's fate to a hopefully benevolent god. But he's deluded himself into thinking his motivation is altruistic when in fact it's hubris and narcism.

Dan finds the only kind of salvation that matters in the end; love and affection from another human being. But he's soft and morally aloof.

And of course man kind has not been saved. Moore actually predicted the hubristic (apparently not a word) declaration that we were at "the end of history. But we're still in the same cycle we always are. Our sins sending us head first into destruction, our virtues saving us at the last minute.

Goon
Guest

New favorite comic book movie. Better than Dark Knight. Haley is better than Heath. Yeah, I'm willing to pick that fight. whatevs.

But in summary, it hit all the notes of what i wanted, not afraid to be slightly campy, or pretentious. I didnt like 300 and am 'meh' about Dawn of the Dead, I'm really truly surprised Snyder managed to translate it faithfully while at the same time leaving enough space to fuck around.

And the ending is better than the book. Nothing against the squid monster, but this makes more sense and gives Dr. Manhattan a martyr quality which I totally dig.

Goon
Guest

"but the man on the street stuff is so important. When the “bomb” drops it happens to real people."

This may be blasphemy, but both times I've read the Watchmen I eventually skipped the pirate comic parts. Don't think the'yre particularly well done, and don't like pirates anyways, even if they are serving as allegories.

Pirates are even more boring than generic gunfight movies.

Rusty James
Guest

I was defending the characters at the news stand more than the pirates stuff. I've heard that the bernies are part of the directors cut.

The pirates stuff is good in the book but for reasons that are specific to comics. It pretty much qualifies as unfilmable.

Better than Dark Knight? This facile, stagy recreation? I'll take the bait (although isn't this what the movie blog is for?).

What's the point of movies like this. If its goal is to be as close to the comic as possible then all it can ever be is an inferior version of something else. Would you ever recommend someone see this movie instead of reading the book? Or even see it before reading the book? The movie's just there.

Kurt
Guest

The Pirate Comic stuff is a great underscore to the theme that we become what we fight if we fight it long enough.

Curiously this was also stated in The Dark Knight, "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." The Watchmen gives it a more 'endless cycle' of mystery and hope. The Pirate Comic demonstrates it on a downswing — Which of course, is the story we are being told. The end a temporary upswing until the Journal drops the hammer and people find out they are being 'lied to' – AGAIN.

Never underestimate folks ability to be disappointed again and again. It is a much more harsh message than even The Dark Knight which ends on many a moment of Hope.

But I'd argue that all the smarts of the movie are from the book…Snyder and Co. tweaked out some of the pulpier elements ,but then couldn't inject emotion, or stave off the Camp.

I can see why folks compare this to BLADE RUNNER and how people felt back in 1982 about that film. Hey, I can even buy Watchmen becoming a cult classic. But personal preference, I'll take Blade Runner because it seemed to find a much more 'gritty' look, and is less about '100% perfection lighting' which kinda gets old after the 1/2 way mark…

Kurt
Guest

@ Rusty. There are some great moments (ahem, opening credits, Haley's performance, etc.) in there. But yea. An apt description, due to the quality and smarts of the source, "the movie is just … There."

Agreed.

Rusty James
Guest

I wonder if I would like Blade Runner as much if I read the book first.

As it is now I appreciate them both for their similarities and (more significant) differences. I like to think I'd be open minded about it. But I'm not so sure.

Jonathan
Admin

The difference is that Blade Runner is not Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? nor does it really try to be. Some of the concepts are the same, but the characters, the story, and the message of the entire film are completely different. Hell, they even changed the title, distancing itself even more from the book. I love both but the differences are so extreme, neither overlap in my mind.

Watchmen, on the other hand, still tries to be Watchmen in every way. Maybe not to everyone, but to me, there is a difference there in the way I view an adaptation.

stump
Guest

I really didn't care for this movie. A large part of this may be because I am a fan of the source material. Even so, certain aspects of it were really stupid, and I'm surprised they haven't been mentioned here. It's hard to fuck up an adaption of such great source material. They almost made a bad movie here, which is kind of amazing. I'm going to list some criticisms. You might have argument against some of or certain aspects of these criticisms because they were included in the source material. I would make a counter argument that with the different medium everything changes so sticking to the source material doesn't necessarily matter.

The use of music is so over the top and obvious. "Flight of the Valkyries"? "Sound of Silence"? With rain falling on the coffin? "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" while Veidt lectures on how he is the ruler of the world? There's a lot more. Every time one of these lame music cues came up all I could think about was Zach Snyder grooving out to his fav mix cd on his headphones thinking about how awesome this song would be over this page!

The violence. Going back to this issue of how accurate the film interpretation is. The violence in this movie is so amped up – it's done for a reason. It shows weakness on behalf of the filmmaker(s). They don't completely get the source material. They feel that they need to capture the audience in a gratuitous nature. OR, they assume less of the audience, thinking we can't get the heavy themes and slow action of the source, so every 15 minutes they show us exploding bodies and arms being sawed off and heads being chopped up. No problem. Except there is a problem – I don't remember any of those things happening in the book, and that's all I remember from the movie.

Everything about Ozymandias and everything he's involved in. The plot change makes no sense, in that it's stupid enough that Viedt definitely would not have made this decision. I am very tired and have been imbibing, so I cannot write my on my own write now, but I will quote from someone from another message board (long quote here): "Mostly, I just think using a known quantity like Manhattan turns the ending on its head. The squid doesn't stop the nuclear countdown because the world is worried that trans-dimensional squids don't like nuclear war. It pulls the world back from the brink because it puts the whole planet in a new context, not just in terms of a new implied threat. So while Viedt may kill millions, his intentions are very noble. He doesn't just want to end war, he wants to change the way we look at our place in the universe.

Veidt's movie plan essentially puts Manhattan in the position of omnipotent and angry god, so mankind retreats from the nuclear button through fear of reprisal. That's not liberation, it's subjugation. And I refuse to believe that the smartest man in the world doesn't see how inserting religious overtones into such a highly charged situation would make things better.

Manhattan becomes the new God of Earth, but there's no need for faith because we know he exists. Religion with that level of certainty would turn to fundamentalism very quickly. Everything Manhattan ever said would become the Holy Gospel. Future generations will grow up worshipping him, and then they'll get pissed off at people who don't worship him, or worship him differently. And before you know it, we're all fighting again. For someone with such foresight it's a messy plan, yet Movie Veidt seems quite happy that he's saved the planet, and expresses no doubts at all."

So yeah, long post, sorry if it bored you, but I feel like this movie is getting too much sympathy. Seriously, I gave it a chance, an open mind. I like 300 for what it is, and I was really hoping Snyder would grow with this. He showed signs of growth, but still only on the visual/visceral level. He didn't let the actors act, didn't let the themes of the source material breathe and come to their own on the screen, didn't channel them into his own vision at all, and for these reasons I'm positive that Snyder seriously fails with The Watchmen. The only aspect of this movie to give it any credence, any strength at all is the strength of the book – a testament to the source material.

Rusty James
Guest

@ The difference is that Blade Runner is not Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? nor does it really try to be.

That is the huge difference.

I was against it at the time, but in retrospect I think I would've prefered the Greengrass updated for modern times two hour version.

I was aghast at the idea of it not taking place in the 80's or cutting out the history behind the characters. But jesus… all of that stuff was terrible. It would be tough to argue that the film wouldn't be instantly improved by removing the guy in the zany Nixon costume.

stump
Guest

The Nixon portrayal was completely idiotic. It might have worked if a specific style was established over the course of the film.

I definitely would have prefered the Greengrass version to this. I hope Snyder is relegated to making low-budget fun action movies at this point. He's good at that. He should stick to it.

Goon
Guest

"Better than Dark Knight? This facile, stagy recreation? I’ll take the bait (although isn’t this what the movie blog is for?).

What’s the point of movies like this. If its goal is to be as close to the comic as possible then all it can ever be is an inferior version of something else. Would you ever recommend someone see this movie instead of reading the book? Or even see it before reading the book? The movie’s just there."

it's not particularly easy to explain, but here goes

For one, Watchmen has things I can fanboy nitpick that happen throughout, but Dark Knights flaws are much more apparent during a few specifically large segments, particularly most of the end.

As for 'inferior version of something else' – I don't think of things like this. I watched a movie this is artful, doesn't pander, is to me like a 70s movie at heart that takes advantage of modern inventions, dares to embrace some visual camp while still take itself seriously and just the right amount of dry humor. It's a balancing act, and its not going to work for everyone, its not going to have the mass appeal to convince everyone that its the greatest thing ever, and thats fine, but it hit everything right for me. My tastes in humor, the level of seriousness I want from a comic book movie, the visual style, and the story itself carried through as well as I could expect.

And…

You can take almost everything I'm saying here and apply it to why I like Persepolis, and even though its apples and oranges, that is a better comic book movie than the Dark Knight too 😛 – and yet since the comic book of Persepolis is also better than the movie, what am I supposed to do? Not enjoy it and simply say it can only be worse than something else? If its good its good, if its bad its bad. If the best comic book I've seen is not as good as its source material, then whatever. If the Watchmen movie never existed the book would still be better than any comic book movie to date, so why does it matter if the Watchmen movie doesnt meet that standard either?

Goon
Guest

In one sentence, the Watchmen movie has balls. More balls than the squeamish over-the-top fanboys who have to parse every filmmaking decision through a filter first.

As for the music choices, the way they were worked in often reminded me of Donnie Darko, in a good way.

Rusty James
Guest

Did you just this was "pop myth making at it's best?"

was it also a wiz, bang good time at movies for the whole family?

Kurt
Guest

I'm glad you got the joke Rusty. "10 Thumbs Up!!!" (I was in a funny mood this morning…)

Rusty James
Guest

Sorry, I guess I didn't get the joke.

@ I also agree that radical departure adaptations of material is WAAAAAY better than shot-by-shot recreations.

Especially since shot by panel recreations fail right out of the gate because – guess what – the dimensions of a comic page are completely different than a movie screen. And what do you do when there's a splash page? You fail, go home.

Mike Rot
Member

I have not had a chance to parse through this, so apologies.

Afraid I don't have anything illuminating to say about Watchmen either, it left me cold, empty. I mean it was a decent enough film, with some gorgeous moments and as close as you could get to faithful adaptation to the graphic novel but I dont know I feel like it cheapens the source material, Moore was right. I cannot imagine being able to do this better than it was done by Snyder, I really think everything works but towards what is the problem.

The film works as panels, you remember and admire the panels, but in sequence, as a story unfolding, it lumbers.

still I see where you can love it, but I'm not quite there

Rusty James
Guest

@ That being said. Sin City the film worked better than Sin City the Graphic Novel, for me, anyway.

I can't even imagine that. It's so broad and cartoony it may as well be Finding Nemo. Plus whats the point of "faithfully" recreating the comic only to put underroos on Yellow Bastard? Set the rest of it on fire, that's the only part worth keeping.

Dave
Guest

Goon, this is one of the few times you and I stand on almost opposite ends. Not completely because I don't outright hate the film, but there is no way I can place it on a pedestal as some of my "peers" have. I agree that Snyder turned in what is quite possibly the most accurate Watchmen that you can film, it just makes me sad that after over 20 years and passing through Gilliam and Greengrass, the world begot Zach Snyder, commercial director in every sense of the word, and he bore fruit.

If you got what you wanted from the film, nothing I can take away from that. I think I neither wanted much from the film or quickly realized about 10 minutes into the first act that I didn't care.

stump
Guest

@ comparisons to Batman Dark Knight: BDK is not that great a movie, let alone the greatest superhero movie. The best superhero movie is still Spiderman 2. Aside from that, these types of movies do not exist in a vacuum. They should be held to a standard that all cinema is held to.

@Kurt regarding music cues and camp – there was nothing camp about it in the book. The use of lyrical quotes in the book came at a time very different from our own. These songs hadn't become quite so overused. The filmmaker should understand this and create a mis-en-scene accordingly.

@Kurt again, regarding departures. Similar to the Ozymandias departure, we have Night Owl II and Silk Spectre II as Kung Fu crazy violent minded maniacs. In the comic they are nothing like this. I wouldn't mind the amping up of the violence if it had no impact on the story or the characters, but it does. In the book, Night Owl has an upper hand on Rorschach because of his consistent attempts to abstain from violence. However, we have this one scene where everything is broken – we see Snyder's true colors. He has no sense for the subtleties of the book. He's a bit of an idiot, I think.

There is so much subtlety in the original book that Snyder misses. He works so hard to put his "trademarks" on it but misses the beauty in the characters and the tragedy. It's obvious that he turned some product out in an attempt to please a dumb audience. And he didn't even succeed at that.

Rusty James
Guest

I'll never be able to trust the opinion of someone who watched the movie before reading the book.

I mean as far as Watchmen goes. Not in general.

stump
Guest

"Rorschach, The Comedian and Manhattan make it out mainly unscathed though…"

All three of these characters exist on one side of this line that Moore created in the book. Snyder doesn't get the other side, or he chooses not to show it. This character aspect is the core of the story. Certain parts of Night Owl need to be shown in order to display aspects of Rorschach's character. The affinity between the two is incomplete in this film. Snyder pretty much missed this, and all the subtleties surrounding the human condition aspects of the theme. I can see that he knew it was there, but he clearly didn't understand it, or how to convey it cinematically. The more I think about this movie the more I hate it… "The jist of the story carries through, but the characters ring false." Based on that alone I would say the movie fails.

Rusty James
Guest

He's usually my nemisis but Walter Chaw (of the internet) summed up my thoughts entirely in his opening sentence.

@It knows the notes but doesn't hear the music.

That's it. That simple sentence is everything I have to say about the movie.

stump
Guest

I agree.

Kurt
Guest

Also agreed. the other phrase I hear tossed around that is also apt is "Soulless" which is another (even more brief) way of saying the same thing.

Mercurie
Guest

Generally I agree with you, Kurt, but this is one instance where I don't. I thought Watchmen invested a good deal in the characters and their personal interactions. I do not think it is a soulless movie at all. That having been said, I do agree with you about the sex scene aboard Archimedes. That was tacky, tasteless, awkward, and poorly handled.

coffee
Guest

I kept thinking that the guy who played the Comedian was Javier Bardem (I found out later that it's actually Jeffrey Dean Morgan), but the two actors definitely look alike

swarez
Guest

Finally saw the film yesterday. I liked it but there was definitely something missing. I felt that the template that the film was made from was so rigid that the actors weren't allowed to inject themselves in to the characters and there fore felt false allot of the time.

I need to see the film again because I felt I wasn't able to take it all in this time around.

It was quite shocking to see so many parents with their kids at this movie, even a father with his mongoloid kid. It tells me that they have absolutely no idea what they are watching and think every super hero film is like Batman or Iron Man.

Kurt
Guest

Managed to take this one in a second time around. Tried to focus on the good parts, over the weak parts. It is definetly a solid comic-book hero film, as the genre goes, and the three hours are never boring. The most irksome thing about Watchmen is that it could have been the be all and end all of Comic Book movies as Art, but not quite there. The 'this will age like Blade Runner' people are pretty nuts; although I do dig a heckuvalot of what is on display here.

Henrik
Guest

The definition of meaningless?

With comic book movies, the one thing they will always have over the comics is motion. Spider-Man in motion. Superman in motion. Night Owl in motion? When what you've got is dialogue, motion isn't necessary, the only thing Watchmen in film form gives us that the comic doesn't give us much better, is Dr. Manhattan, who was pulled off great visually. Huge Dr. Manhattan, that's something for the big screen, but the dialogue between Rorscach and Dreiberg, those – like 99.8% of Watchmen – were deliberately meant for the page.

I'll have to fail this one.

Kurt
Guest

When 90% of the audience is not going to read even a graphic novel these days, I can see the value of Watchmen: The Movie. But I certainly see your point from an 'artistic' standpoint. Well Said.

Henrik
Guest

"When 90% of the audience is not going to read even a graphic novel"

'The audience'?

Kurt
Guest

Henrik – You know, people that go to the movies. 😉

Henrik
Guest

I still don't understand your point. Is Watchmen so necessary to get out to people that you can justify compromising it whenever necessary? Get the grizzled, alcoholic vietnam vet to do martial arts then I guess.

swarez
Guest

Of course they need to compromise because it's a film not made for the hard core comic geek, but for the people who have no idea what it is i.e. 99% of the audience. They need compromise to have a chance of getting some of that money back.

It is quite amazing that the studio put up so much money for a film that basically everyone knew would not be a huge block buster. Takes balls to do that, or a very convincing director.

Henrik
Guest

"Of course they need to compromise because it’s a film not made for the hard core comic geek"

This doesn't make sense. You're saying of course they need to compromise because they did.

Kurt
Guest

It is interesting that this movie had the $150 million go ahead. They could have done the story for half that (and likely in two or three parts at that budget), if they were half-way clever about it.

There was not particular reason why this had to be a mega-budgeted 4-Quadrant movie, it could have been done cheaper and aimed at a smaller niche, something like HELLBOY or THE FOUNTAIN.

Henrik
Guest

I don't think Hellboy and The Fountain aims for the same audience.

I for one was glad that at least the movie delivered a CGI Dr. Manhattan that looked great and did big stuff. I would have hated a blue-suited man.