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Sunday, March 08, 2009

I Watches The Watchmen (one of 13 million fanboy opinions you can find online, and just as worthless, really)

For starters, I thought the movie was great: it could have even been one of the greatest films of all time if the filmmaker wasn't chained to the source material. And he had to chain himself to it, or Zach Snyder would have been destroyed on a molecular level by the people who've loved this story for more than 20 years. Small wonder it took so long for someone to have the cajones to finally make this flick. Imagine being the first person to make a Shakespeare movie, or the first Russian director to tackle a Tolstoy. That's a bit of pressure, that.

As a graphic novel, as literature...Watchmen is without peer. Not even the stories that made Frank Miller famous in the genre really compare to the perfect symmetry at play in the book. It's a story that gets better every time you read it, I can't really name another that does that after so many years.

As a movie, the story falls a little flat in the fan expectation department. There's so much that happens that you can't help but disappoint everyone a bit. You disappoint the rabid fanboys because you have to cut so much out of the story to make it work on the big screen. You disappoint the people who don't know the story because there's so much crammed into the nearly three hours it runs, and you can't live up to the hype. No matter how cool the framework is. No matter how bitchin' the special effects are.

I thought the movie was very well done, despite this. It won't be remembered as one of the greatest comic flicks...but it sure as hell won't be mentioned in the same breath as Spiderman 3 or Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.

The violence, while it didn't bother me, is pretty stark. It caught much of the audience off-guard and earned that R rating.
And, yes, there's a fair amount of blue penis in it...but not as much as the reviewers are bemoaning. All of the actors (with one exception, I'll get to that in a bit) are very well cast and do their characters proud (okay maybe the guy playing Nixon was a little weak, too). I let out a laugh when I saw who they cast as imprisoned crime boss Big Figure...great choice.

And maybe I'm tainted a bit, because I never cared for the character, but Malin Akerman did nothing for me as the second Silk Spectre. I think she's a fairly weak actress, didn't dig her in either 27 Dresses or that Ben Stiller crapflick she did a couple years back (so bad I don't feel like looking up the name). I don't think she's cut out for this acting THING: I'd rather she open a bakery or something, maybe hire Ben Affleck so we can be spared his future work, too.

Now...what I loved about Watchmen:
  • The opening titles were incredible, I loved the way the Minutemen and Watchmen kept inserting themselves into famous historical events.
  • Subtle little changes (spoiler alert) like having Dreiberg visit Veidt instead of Rorshach, the choice to leave out the death of Hollis Mason, etc...
  • The effects were great, start to finish.
  • The pacing decisions were wise ones, I thought. When they excluded was for a reason.
  • Bubastis! Just not red Bubastis.
  • This is a stupid thing, but I liked how everyone's glasses looked right out of a 1985 display counter. The cars were right, too. I like accuracy in my period pieces, damnit. They did a good job with it. The WTC was even put in.
  • A lot of the signs were perfect, just like they looked in the book.

Without revealing anything, I'll say this: Craig had it absolutely right Friday morning when he said you could never, EVER pull off the ending from the book and have it work. The way they wrapped up this movie was respectful to the story without following it too closesly. Many will bitch about it, but I loved it. Best possible way to make the movie work, in my opinion.

And I missed Tales Of The Black Freighter. I'm looking forward to seeing it come back on the DVD.