Mamo #133: And the result was apathy

Mamo!

Mamo, the show about movies and popular culture, is now available at rowthree.com! If you’re new to the podcast, welcome; if you’re a returning listener, consider therapy. In today’s episode, we’ll be having our long-awaited look at the long-awaited Watchmen, and consequently mull whether our long-awaiting was worthwhile. And, we promise, nary a “who watches” pun will you find.

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rot
Guest

welcome aboard guys, look forward to hearing this podcast when I get back from the U.S.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Enjoyed the show fellas. Succinct summation of the ins and outs of Watchmen. (One thing though, the "THE" is generally wrong as in THE WATCHMEN).

/Quibble

ralph
Guest

fresh blood. yum. i'll be checking this out when i get home from work.

John Allison
Editor

I am one of the people who enjoyed Watchmen and I'd take it over Dark Knight. It both amuses and annoys me how everyone can not leave behind their feelings about the graphic novel in this case or more generally any time a work is an adaptation. For me I enjoyed the movie as a movie. I've read the novel once and I enjoyed it. I don't really care if the movie is better or worse than the novel nor if it brings something new to the table when compared to the novel. They are too separate entities in my mind and I'm not going to worry at all about making comparisons.

Here are the reasons why I enjoyed the movie. 1) The characters – I found each character interesting. 2) The acting – I didn't have a problem with any of the acting it was all either good or serviceable. 3) The story – It told a good story. 4) The action – I liked the action better as I could see everything and I don't mind the cuts between slow and fast paced action and 5) I like what it had to say about heroes.

If you don't consider the original source material you are left with a well put together story that has good action and some cool special effects.

Now if I compare the original source material then yes I do not think it is as good as the novel but movies never are as what you can imagine while reading. This does not change the fact though that I liked the movie.

Oh and I really approve of the Squid Removal.

Kurt
Guest

John: I disagree. See my original review, in which I had no significant prior knowledge of the graphic novel, but could still intuitively sense how Snyder fucked the adaption up.

I agree that there is a lot to like in there, and that only underscores the failure of the film.

And Zack Snyder is now, after middling and ultimately disappointing despite the potential of the Dawn remake, 300 and Watchmen, officially Casey at the Bat. And there was only moderate joy in Mudville.

Andrew James
Guest

Wait wait wait…. they're remaking ROMANCING THE STONE!?

Andrew James
Guest

PS – No offense. But sick to death of the Watchmen talk. EVERYONE I know and trust said it's mediocre AT BEST. Yet everyone keeps talking about and hyping it.

I guess I'll catch it on DVD eventually.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Like it or not Andrew, this is by far and away the most 'interesting' major studio release of 2009 in terms of the cultural conversation.

Andrew James
Admin

"Interesting" and "bored to tears" are not synonymous to me.

Andrew James
Admin

But I ask again, they're remaking ROMANCING THE STONE!? I had not heard this. On IMDb there is no info. Anyone have info on this?

Andrew James
Admin

Oh, but I do agree with you John about adaptations and movie separate entities. If one has read the book, I think it's impossible to separate the two in your mind. But I personally see movies to see the movie. It is very rare that I've read the book before hand (unless it's a S. King adaptation). So I look at the movie and analyze it as such. It either works by itself as a movie (Persepolis) or it doesn't work alone (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).

John Allison
Editor

I'm not specifically targeting you Kurt or even the MAMO guys. I've just heard too many people call it mediocre because it is not as good as the book or that it is too faithful.

For me I enjoyed the story. I liked the action scenes and had a good time.

My only complaints would have to be that I did not get enough feeling from the Night Owl character as to just how useless he really is until he puts on the costume, Snyder should have left the bizarre cat out because there was no explanation and Silk Spectre's old makeup was not too good but that one was not really bad enough to bother me.

Andrew, if it makes you feel better I actually held off on doing a post on why I prefer Watchmen over Dark Night.

John Allison
Editor

"Like it or not Andrew, this is by far and away the most ‘interesting’ major studio release of 2009 in terms of the cultural conversation."

It is also one of the few movies that have been able to get me out to the theatre this year so far also.

Matt Gamble
Guest

had no significant prior knowledge of the graphic novel, but could still intuitively sense how Snyder fucked the adaption up.

Hey Jerk Store, have you read I am Legend yet?

Rusty James
Guest

@ It both amuses and annoys me how everyone can not leave behind their feelings about the graphic novel

Don't they sort of invite the comparison by naming their movie after the book? And telling every about all their efforts to make it as much like the book as possible? I suspect I would've enjoyed it a lot more if it weren't deliberately reminding me of the far superior book in every scene.

It's worse than failure, they "succeeded" in make a facile lame recreation of the great book.

And Matthew Goode's performance is ridiculous and wrong. He is not the smartest man on Earth.

Rusty James
Guest

Books I've read and the later enjoyed the film adaptation

The Shinning

Deliverence

In Cold Blood

Choke

The Thin Red Line

A Scanner Darkly

Caine Mutiny

That's all I can recall at the moment.

Rusty James
Guest

Communion. It was delightful.

Rusty James
Guest

Slaughterhouse Five. Although there's no comparison to the book.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Had some fun with the idea of watching adaptations that don't stick to the source material.

6 Gutsiest Adaptations

Feel free to bitch at me, and my choices, here or there.

Rusty James
Guest

The Strangers was a pretty radical departure from the Camus novel but I thought it worked!

ralph
Guest

movies from books i read first and still liked:

American Psycho

Lolita

Fight Club

The Grapes of Wrath

ralph
Guest

oh yeah and Lord of the Rings!

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

"had no significant prior knowledge of the graphic novel, but could still intuitively sense how Snyder fucked the adaption up."

I guess it is more along the lines of WHOA this movie doesn't work in places. Or, Wow, they can't be serious on that? Translation from page to screen is tricky business.

Andrew James
Admin

Memo to Mamo:

Flame and Citron is playing at the Minneapolis Film Fest. I think you guys mentioned it on one of your previous shows. I will see this when it gets here. Thanks for the heads up. If it wasn't you I heard this from, I still thank you for being you and not dropping an anvil on my head.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Didn't John A. Review Flame & Citron in our TIFF section? Have to go check.

Andrew James
Admin

OK since no one else but me cares, I was able to find this info and this info only:

"The remake will be written by Daniel McDermott, a former Dreamworks television executive turned screenwriter of Eagle Eye."

Never saw Eagle Eye, so I can't comment. I'm sure eventually it will be part of my "on the road" segment.

Henrik
Guest

Flame and Citron is fucking horrible.

Review done.

Andrew James
Admin

And just like that, I'm sold.

Henrik
Guest

I had no idea Jack Kirby created New Gods. What a lame concept, a computermother in the arm to solve all the problems is stupid.

Marina Antunes
Admin

I agree with John to the extent that I'd much rather re-watch Watchmen than TDK. It definitely has its problems and yes, it's been talked about incessantly now and I'm still on the fence about it. Didn't hate it but didn't love it either – I do hope to catch up with it again at some point.

As for books that I've read before seeing the film and still enjoyed the movie, I can't recall any outside of American Psycho and at that point, it had been years since I read Ellis' book and I loved the movie whereas I disliked the book a fair bit (Ellis' style does little for me).

Matt – you're list is awesome. Haven't read most of the source material for any of them!

Matt Gamble
Guest

For once I agree with Henrik, PDA's are stupid.

Matt
Guest

Boy you guys weren't kidding about the comments around here.

Citron and Flame IS THE AWESOMENESS.

And every book-to-movie adaptation should be as good as, or better, than Fight Club.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Welcome to our little 'water cooler' Matt.

Goon
Guest

"And every book-to-movie adaptation should be as good as, or better, than Fight Club."

That's a bad choice, since that book actually kind of sucks.

My go-to for a good book to a good translation might be something more like Trainspotting.

David Kelly asked me the other day since (oh god I'm sick of talking about it too) he brought up a variation of IMO, the tired "If Watchmen isn't as good as the book, it can at best be a mediocre adaptation thus a mediocre movie" line of thinking.

Listen – Jackie Brown is my favorite Tarantino movie, and Tarantino is one of my favorite directors, easily. yet the Rum Punch book Jackie Brown is based off just may be better than the movie. So am I supposed to thus declare Tarantino is a mediocre director because the best he can do for me is a decent adaptation of what most people consider a slightly above average crime thriller?

I mean seriously, in so many ways any adaptation from a book brings up these dubious new standards that fuck up everything. Adaptation is my favorite Kaufman work to date. What if I end up reading the Orchid Thief and (probably not likely, but possibly) end up loving it? Would Adapation be lessened for what it does to it? Strengthened? There's this 'damned if you do damned if you dont' annoying bullshit that comes from viewing anything with material you are already familiar with, it skews any rational analysis, and at the end of the day you can only go with your gut about what it feels like to you.

I cant put my knowledge of the Watchmen story out of my head when watching it, in my case I gave Snyder the ball and he ran with it, for others, their preconceptions were much different and they were upset. And so many others are just left in the cold clueless. What am I supposed to do? Disqualify my knowledge and dislike the film on some guess of what it would be like for a new viewer, and ignore my own visceral love for it aided by knowing the material? That's just as dishonest, if not more so.

In the end, overly forgiving or overly damning a movie based on familiarity with the source material is a lot more acceptable to me than hating it based on what the trailer promised you…

and yes, thats a dig at Andrew over Son of Rambow again 😛

Andrew James
Admin

"In the end, overly forgiving or overly damning a movie based on familiarity with the source material is a lot more acceptable to me than hating it based on what the trailer promised you…"

Hmm. While the dig was bait, I won't bite. I do think it's actually an interesting question though. Which is "worse," a movie not living up to its trailer, or a movie not living up to its source material. Personally I prefer that the product delivered be as advertised – not as previously captured in another medium. In other words, I already read the book – so make the movie a movie. Make it so that it is good on screen – not trying to recreate something that reads well. But when you advertise something as a horror movie, it should be scary; not a romantic comedy. When you advertise a Snickers bar, you don't tell people it tastes like shrimp do you?

Andrew James
Admin

And just for fun, here are Stephen King adaptations that I've read AND seen the movie:

The Langoliers – Amazing story, shit movie
Stand by Me – ok story, great movie
Needful Things – great story, shit shit shit movie
Running Man – ok story, ok movie
Shawshank – ok story, great movie
Green Mile – great story, ok movie
IT – ok story, great movie (Tim Curry kicks ass here)
Cujo – ok story, ok movie
Thinner – great story, shit movie
Misery – great story, ok movie
The Mist – great story, pretty good movie
Sometimes they Come Back – ok story, shit movie

I know there are a TON more, but I can't rank them as I've either never seen the movie or never read the book (Delores Claibourne, Carrie, Apt Pupil)
Can't wait for "The Long Walk" to finally see a movie adaptation!

Rusty James
Guest

But did you read the books first or see the movie first? You've got to include that.

And I don't think you did a very good job not biting. It seems like he's got you hook line and sinker.

Rusty James
Guest

@ he brought up a variation of IMO, the tired “If Watchmen isn’t as good as the book, it can at best be a mediocre adaptation thus a mediocre movie” line of thinking.

I think I even agree with you in the general sense but I don't think the Jackie Brown to Watchman comparison works.

The problem with Watchmen is that every time it reminds me of the book the comparison cuts against its favor. And it's constantly reminding me of the book.

I really dont think arguing for it as a stand alone work is gonna be winning strategy. It lacks the courage to stand on its own. It's conservative and devout in it's worship of the source material. Fuck that, devout's for farmers and old ladies.

rot
Guest

Anybody ever read novelizations of films when they were young and precocious? My first upset with a film not pairing up with a book was for Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. The novelization had a long running segment with the colonel and the Easter bunny, including a chase scene, and I was devastated when it didn't make it to the screen.

I read Alien 3 novelization also, and it wasn't like the film either.

so that is a whole other dimension, the film came first as source material and then they make shit up for the book.

Langoliers, really liked that short story, King needs to write one of the episodes of Lost methinks.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Hey. I read the Alien3 novelization too. I think I can read the novelization faster than watching the theatrical cut of the film. That's a short, short book.

ralph
Guest

i always read novelizations of movies i loved as a kid. no idea why. they are generally really really bad.

Rusty James
Guest

I don't know about novelizations. I did read William Shatner's Star Trek fanfic "The Return". It was awesome.

Matt Price
Editor

The Abyss novelization by Orson Scott Card is the best one I've ever read, mostly because Card was actually on set through all of production, and just kept on revising his story as changes were made. He had total access to actors and crew, and their insights inform the book. The Abyss more than stands on its own, it may just be better as a novel than it was as a film and for me that's saying something because I fucking-A LOVE that movie.

Jonathan
Admin

I read tons as a child and would often see a movie in the theatre and then read the adult novelization. Naturally, I loved them as a kid – although I shudder at the thought of many of these that I read now.

A few that I can distinctly remember:

Twister: written by Michael Crichton in screenplay format. I was around 10 when Twister came out and was convinced I wanted to be a storm chaser when I was older. So, I had to buy the book. I remember it being distinctly different than the movie.

Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human: A novelized sequel, I remember picking this up in 5th grade for $0.25 at one of those places that used to sell books with their covers ripped off (anyone remember those places?). I remember enjoying it. I would, of course, later read Philip K. Dick's original story.

Mission: Impossible: Another novelization I picked up at age 10, shortly after I saw the movie in theatres. I was convinced if my storm chasing career didn't work out, I was going to be working for the IMF.

Aliens vs Predator: Prey: Another novelized "sequel," I think I was in 4th or 5th when I picked this up. I had watched all of the Alien movies and both Predators at this point and needed more.

Star Wars

I read probably 6 or 7 Indiana Jones novelizations too. Yikes.

Obviously, I've read hundreds of novels that were adapted into films too. Too many to list. Some I read before, some after – but I almost always prefer the book.

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