Sunday, March 8, 2009

I Watch the Watchmen

I'm nursing a bad back and a recuperating wife so I'll keep this short. We had a huge tree limb fall in our back yard during the recent snow storm. (14 degrees one day, 80 the next. That's Richmond for ya.) It fell in the exact same place as another limb about three weeks ago, which I'd just cleared. Seems ground zero in our back yard is somewhere between the posts of our clothesline. While I managed to cut the last one up with a handsaw, this one required the chainsaw as it was about the size of a small tree. In the process, I managed to aggravate my already-sore back. Suze and I went to see WATCHMEN at the midnight show on Thursday night and we got there early. Four hours in a theater seat and my back was crying in protest. Follow that with three hours in a chair in the E.R. and, well...

Why the E.R.? Well, Suzanne had a...thing. I won't go into detail because it's kind of her business but it's nothing life-threatening and it happens every few years so we're used to it. She's perfectly healthy and happy. Suffice it to say I feel a little guilty because the midnight movie I dragged her to was probably a contributing factor. I'll know better next time.

Was it worth it? No, but it was pretty darned good. I hear a lot of people complaining that they followed the book too closely and people who aren't fans of the book won't like it. But you know what? If you aren't making the movie for fans of the book, who are you making it for? Yes, there are problems and yes, there are some things missing I would have liked to have seen included. But mostly these were minor tweaks that I completely understand the need for. The movie is already nearly 3 hours long and I understand that a lot of footage will be added in the DVD release anyway.

One of the minor changes relates to the story Rorschach tells his prison therapist. (If you've read the book, it's the scene with the dogs.) This scene was probably changed to avoid comparisons to a similar scene at the end of MAD MAX and it's not a big deal. What is a big deal is the ending. If you care, you've heard by now that there is no squid. I assure you, it doesn't matter. I was initially disappointed but after having some time to think about it, I think it's a better ending. (Oh, blasphemy!) It works in the context of the story and, I think, isn't as contrived or hard to swallow. And that's all I'll say about it so I don't ruin it for anyone.

If I was going to sum it up, I'd have to say that this is the movie comic fans have been waiting for. A movie that is much better and much closer to the source material than we had any right to expect. I've read the Sam Hamm script that was written for Terry Gilliam and THAT movie would really have pissed off the fans. This movie won't make the splash that the graphic novel did because that was lightning in a bottle. What it did for comics has already been done for superhero movies by BATMAN BEGINS, THE DARK KNIGHT and, to a lesser extent, IRON MAN. It would have had to have been made ten or fifteen years ago. And I don't think they could have made this movie back then.

Anyway, I highly recommend you see this movie in the theater. It begs for that kind of presentation. Besides, I want it to make money so it validates the faith the studio had in making it. I want to see more movies like this. (But, please god, no sequels, prequels or spinoffs!) Do NOT wait for the DVD.

Unless you're my friend Paul, who actually lives in a theater.

8 comments:

Jadielady said...

My honey and I went to see it at the new theater in Richmond, in the old train factory? Very impressive and I really enjoyed the movie.

McGill said...

I saw it yesterday, and I really liked it...but a part of me wanted to see that damn squid up there. I
Kinda liked The Comedian more in the flic...

Warren said...

Sorry to hear about the health problems. Hope you're feeling better.

I went to the midnight showing last week with my daughter (she's grown) to see Watchmen. I thought it was a very good adaptation. I actually preferred the way the movie played out to the way the book played out. The giant squid just never did it for me. Making mankind's common enemy to be __________ makes more sense to me. But it doesn't show off you-know-who's Reed Richardsian intellect was well.

I thought it was a good movie. A great movie? I dunno. But it entertained and wowed me, so I can't ask for more than that.

Heywood Jablomie said...

Hope you guys are feeling better. Do you have many trees in your yard?

I'm going to see this eventually. I'm ashamed to say that I still haven't read this yet though....it always seemed so 'wordy'....

PJ said...

Thank you for not ruining it, I’ll probably get around to it sometime over the next week or two.

Time to start wearing a weight belt when you’re doing that kind of work. Just consider yourself fortunate you don’t get the kind of snow we get in the Northeast because I find myself dreading it more and more with each passing year.

Leanne said...

Firstly, hope you and Suzanne are feeling better! Sorry to hear about your recent troubles.

As for Watchmen, I agree. I really enjoyed the film. A lot. And I'd been pessimistic about it from the beginning. I griped constantly about how I didn't' think they should bother making it, that it would never compare to the graphic novel, etc.

But I really loved it, even with the minor changes made to it. I understand why they were made, and I felt that they still really kept the "feel" of the graphic novel in tact. This was definitely made for the fans, and I appreciated that.

Can't wait for the extended DVD.

DonsSword said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DonsSword said...

Squid was stupid in 86, and it's still stupid now. The movie has a much more sensible ending, especially for the 21st Century, and I doubt the change was just some fluke idea someone had.

I think the change to Rorshach's fall into depravity probably had less to do with Mad Max, and more to do with an audience that has seen Saw and Hostel one time too many. Based on how Rorshach is played in the movie, the intensity of his action is far more believable--it makes him a little less detached (as he is in the book), and I think the audience is a little more sympathetic--it takes him from that crazy wacked f_ck, to the person we most associate with--which I think for the audience is a little more scary (and it makes us a little more vulnerable).

As far as adherence to cannon, Gibbons worked on the film, a lot. If u read thru the interviews with Gibbons about the creation of the book, he contributed just as many little intricate details as Moore did, and as the artist, he is a co-storyteller. His involvement in the Creative Direction of the movie would of course result in the movie closely following his own printed work. Funny thing is, no one complained about this in Snyder and Miller's "300."

The fans who disliked the film can "suck it"--the movie is good, and its flaws are minute compared to the crap we have been fed as super hero movies over the decades. If this came out before the recession/depression, and before 300, everyone would be saying it was brilliant--which it is.