Saturday, March 7, 2009

Watchmen Movie Review


Knowing that I am a comic geek and have been very excited about this film for quite some time, several people have been asking for my thoughts on the movie. I am attempting to put my thoughts together here now after having seen the movie twice now. I will say right up front though that I am very biased. I am a fan of the graphic novel and I don't think I will be able to objectively set myself apart from that when reviewing the Watchmen movie.

Casting:

Spot on! I can not imagine anyone better for any role. It was as if the characters from the graphic novel jumped out of the comic and started walking and talking on screen. It was incredible. Seeing and hearing Rorschach was the most fun, closely followed by the Comedian. But really, the entire cast was perfect. These really were the characters from the graphic novel brought to life.

Acting/Character Development:

I am not able to objectively review this. To me, a fan of the source material, the entire cast embodied the characters of the graphic novel. All performances were excellent and I loved them. Not sure where to put this one gripe I have, so this is as good a place as any. I was really distracted by the terrible makeup job of Nixon and Sally Jupiter (Silk Spectre I). Nixon's nose looks like it is so heavy and flabby it is about to fall off. Sally's makeup when she is old and her wig look incredibly fake. It's not that hard to make young actors look old. It has been done well in many films. Those were the only times I felt like I was disengaged and judging the film. I wish that had been done better.

Soundtrack:

The soundtrack was not what I was expecting at all. I was expecting the music from the trailers and that was there, but it was not the overall feel of the music. I loved it. It was different and unexpected and fit surprisingly well.

Fanboy Moments:

Way too many to count! From the opening scene to the end, there are so many treats for fans of the graphic novel. It really is an enjoyable experience. Zack Snyder did an amazing job of adapting the comic to the big screen. I think the more familiar you are with the source material, the more you will enjoy this film. Scene after scene, shot after shot - done perfectly to reflect the comic as best as possible. Excellent.

Content Advisory:

This movie is not for kids. This movie is not for many adults. The graphic novel is very adult in nature and the movie doesn't remove that at all. I was actually very surprised what they allow to pass as an 'R' rated film today. If this movie were made a few years ago it probably could have pulled an 'NC-17' rating. If you care and want a detailed content review, check here or here. I only make mention of it because there is some pretty extreme content and if you are offended by sexual content or violence/gore, you may want to review that in advance.

** Minor Spoiler Alert **
Please know that by continuing I will be revealing minor plot spoilers
**


Deviations/Omissions from the Graphic Novel:

There were very few deviations from the book. The most notable change was the ending, but I'll talk about that later with a stronger spoiler warning. A change that bothered me at first was the flashback when Rorschach is talking to the psychiatrist about when he became Rorschach. In the graphic novel, he ties the murderer up and burns him and the house up. In the film, he takes a meat cleaver and repeatedly hacks into his skull. At first I didn't like the deviation, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the change. It was good and fits well in the graphic novel written in 1986/1987, but would an audience of 2009 get the same impact and feel that turning point in Rorschach's life when Walter Kovac died for good in that moment and there was only Rorschach left? The scene in the film was very striking and it did an excellent job of conveying the psychological and emotional change that the character went through in making that leap and transition, making him what he is presently. I'm okay with the change now.

There were many omissions simply for time's sake. Although, I must say, I did not leave the theater wishing I had seen anything else. The omissions were necessary and very well done. I need to read the graphic novel again now though and make a list of things I would have liked to see in the movie. As it stands in my memory now though, nothing.

One change that did bother me was the scene with Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II having sex in the Owl Ship. That scene was unnecessarily exaggerated and lengthened. I don't think it added to the movie experience at all. I would feel differently if more time was spent in the graphic novel on that scene, but it isn't. I would have rather seen it portrayed as it was in the book and given as much time as the book gives it and added more time elsewhere. I also think it was unnecessarily explicit.

** MAJOR SPOILER ALERT **
** The text below is the same color as the background of this blog. Highlight the text to read it
**

Okay, the ending. It is no longer the alien squid ending. Adrian instead uses bombs of energy, that look like Dr. Manhattan's energy signature, to destroy several major cities and kill millions of people. Dr. Manhattan is blamed and this unites the world against their now common enemy. World peace is achieved, the heroes are faced with the same decision of exposing Adrian's lie and losing world peace or letting him get away with it. Manhattan still leaves the galaxy, Rorschach still dies, the bad guy still "wins", and the same questions about right and wrong and ends justifying the means - those are all still there. And you know what? I think it was a good move. I think Snyder's ending works well for the movie. It doesn't change the emotions of the film or the outcome. It just makes it a little simpler and probably works as a better ending for a movie than the graphic novel ending would have.

** End of spoilers **

Overall/Conclusion:

Fabulous! A near perfect adaptation of an incredible graphic novel. I've seen it twice and have plans made to see it at least twice more in theaters. The minor issues I have with the film are really that... minor. This really is the graphic novel come to life... and that's awesome! I give Watchmen a 9.5 out of 10.

2 comments:

Randy Mooney said...

Having watched it on the second night and not being a reader of the comics, I might have a different take.

I do agree wholeheartedly with the sex scene, it didn't need to be there at all and was focused way too much on.

The redemptive message of sacrifice of the one for the many is lost in both the lie of the blond guy and the sacrifice of the unwilling/unknowing blue guy.

I do give credit for a good twist in the end. But the almost good redemptive message left a bitter taste in my mouth as I sat wondering "who would sacrifice me for others?" I might do it on my own, but to be set up ... not so fun.

simplykersh said...

Hey there Buddy;
Went and saw the movie on Friday night (I've read the comic book (and it really is a comic BOOK) about four times over the last six years). I don't think I will be seeing the movie again, it was a bit to graphic for me. It is okay to see still frames of things but live action is waaaay different...plus Dr. Manhatten makes me feel awkward.

Anyway, Nixon's nose I agree, big distraction but I think that it must have had a valid reason. I think Snyder like most people consider Nixon to be a liar and so they pinochio'd his nose (it did look like it was getting bigger.

Sex scene- yeah WAY overdone. But so was 300's. I think Snyder aspires to be a dirty movie maker. I do think that sometimes a sex scene can contribute to the film, in this one it was symbolic of Night Owl gettign his life, virility, power whatever word you choose back. in 300 it showed how the roughness and brutality of Spartan life hits all levels. But choose a shorter song for it.

I was okay with the end change. But not with the fact that Veldt seemed so sure he had fixed things. If I remember right in the book Dr. Manhatten implies that it will only be time before his mass murder will mean nothing. People will start hating and killing (talk about nihilism).

I disagree on the Rorschack 'origin' change though. I'm not sure why but I think the book version agreed with his character more. I intend to post a more thought out blog on this over at our place...something about it just rubbed me wrong. I did like the fact that he was sobbing while he perv was chained to the stove. I know I would be loosing my emotional control.

all in all I would probably like it more if the sex and attempted rape scene were closer to the book.

coolness
Jeff