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If Watchmen was Scooby-Doo
March 5, 2009 6:28 PM   Subscribe

Saturday Morning Watchmen Let the Watchmen weekend begin!
posted by HuronBob (128 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Was just about to post this!

Ha!
posted by Catblack at 6:29 PM on March 5, 2009


I really wanted to like this. It's a very clever idea, and I could see it being really entertaining. This execution just seemed like it was trying way too hard.

I'm worried that's going to double as my review of the movie, too.
posted by EarBucket at 6:34 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think I've ever said this before, but I'm with Hitler.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:39 PM on March 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


EarBucket, I agree -- I thought the screenshots were great but the actual video just didn't do it for me. I think some of it was that the Flash animation wasn't suited to the style. That, and it was such a simple joke that I think that animation explained too much of it and it went on too long.

But I've had a bad week so I'm kind of grumpy.
posted by darksong at 6:39 PM on March 5, 2009


EarBucket: "I really wanted to like this. It's a very clever idea, and I could see it being really entertaining. This execution just seemed like it was trying way too hard.

I'm worried that's going to double as my review of the movie, too.
"

Well, I'll have to wait a bit longer to see for myself about the movie - which Ebert's 4 star review of overcame my previous disinterest in shlepping to a theater for it.

But that cartoon was five dimensions of awesome.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:42 PM on March 5, 2009


here ya go, suckers... me and the owl ship!

worth seeing, if only for the ironic "hooters" tag in the photo...
posted by HuronBob at 6:42 PM on March 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow. I thought it erred mainly by being better quality than what it sent up. The real Saturday morning cartoons it emulates had far shabbier backgrounds and more limited motion. Sometimes a bit better in the titles than in the actual shows, but still pretty cheap. It did hammer the joke a bit hard though.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:44 PM on March 5, 2009


And...one more for ya, since i love ya all..

Zack Snyder's Birthday Cake..
posted by HuronBob at 6:47 PM on March 5, 2009


Watchmen Babies in V for Vacation.

what?
posted by pxe2000 at 6:57 PM on March 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


While we're on the subject of Watchmen: Did anybody else read Anthony Lane's review of the movie in the New Yorker and just want to smack him upside the head? It's all fine and good if he didn't like the movie, but goddamn, I don't think I've ever seen someone misread the comic book so completely and so arrogantly.
posted by bookish at 6:59 PM on March 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


Thanks for the Hitler link... haven't laughed that hard in a long time! I sent it on to the producer kid.

Re the Anthony Lane review... I put that one right into the bag with all the other reviewers that just didn't get some aspect of the graphic novel or the movie....

Eberts review was one of the best so far... he gets it...
posted by HuronBob at 7:04 PM on March 5, 2009


bookish: "Did anybody else read Anthony Lane's review of the movie in the New Yorker and just want to smack him upside the head?"

The beautiful thing about that question is that it doesn't even matter what movie you're referring to.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:07 PM on March 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Did anybody else read Anthony Lane's review of the movie in the New Yorker

Anthony Lane can do no wrong.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:13 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The problem is that Snyder, following Moore, is so insanely aroused by the look of vengeance, and by the stylized application of physical power, that the film ends up twice as fascistic as the forces it wishes to lampoon
posted by KokuRyu at 7:18 PM on March 5, 2009


KokuRyu...I have to admit, there were four times during the movie that I covered my eyes and said "I can't believe they did that....." ...
posted by HuronBob at 7:24 PM on March 5, 2009


It's all fine and good if he didn't like the movie, but goddamn, I don't think I've ever seen someone misread the comic book so completely and so arrogantly.

I just read read the review and I'm sorry to say I agree. I like Anthony Lane (and I've no idea as to the movie's merits) but I really think he's pretty profoundly misunderstood the characters and the story, at least of the original Watchmen.
posted by Songdog at 7:25 PM on March 5, 2009


Yeah, Lane mentions Bruce Wayne in a snarky aside and I wonder if he knows who Blue Beetle is.

The 19-year old in me wants to grab a sockpuppet account in the name of Dr. Manhattan so I can post "Anthony Lane can suck my big blue balls!"

But that would be childish.
posted by vrakatar at 7:30 PM on March 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


As for Anthony Lane, anyone who could have children with Allison Pearson is clearly a fucking monster, so I'm not surprised by his pretty ill-informed, needlessly contrarian review.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:32 PM on March 5, 2009


Related: Ombudsmen
posted by mkb at 7:36 PM on March 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Re Anthony Lane's review: What can be said about a reviewer who confuses a comic book with a comic strip?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 7:45 PM on March 5, 2009




Is it ok if I self-link my review? Didn't care for it, and I love the book. Like ChurchHatesTucker and Hitler, I feel that it needed a lot more squid.
posted by muckster at 7:53 PM on March 5, 2009


I wasn't sure how much I (dis)liked this until the credits rolled and my reaction to thinking an episode was about to begin was: "OMFG PLEASE NO."
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:02 PM on March 5, 2009


While we're on the subject of Watchmen: Did anybody else read Anthony Lane's review of the movie in the New Yorker and just want to smack him upside the head? It's all fine and good if he didn't like the movie, but goddamn, I don't think I've ever seen someone misread the comic book so completely and so arrogantly.

I got the impression that he didn't actually read the book, and was going only based on the movie, meaning that a misreading of the material is possibly the fault of the moviemakers. Maybe the ideas of the book don't translate well to the film, or it wasn't done in a way that the core ideas behind the book come through. It's also certainly possible that Lane just missed it, and having only read the book myself, it seemed like that reading the review. But, I'm only able to compare Lane's interpretation of the story to the book, not the movie, so of course it seems like he's missing something. I'll know for sure once I see the movie whether it was ever there in the first place.
posted by LionIndex at 8:14 PM on March 5, 2009


Gotta say, the premiere is here in 20 minutes on an IMAX screen and I hate that I'm missing it...

But I've resolved to re-read it over the next couple of days and catch it then. Oh well.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:41 PM on March 5, 2009


Re Anthony Lane's review: What can be said about a reviewer who confuses a comic book with a comic strip?

It does make me reconsider joining his "Book Club".
posted by rokusan at 8:49 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think I've ever said this before, but I'm with Hitler.

We are all Hitler now.
posted by grobstein at 8:49 PM on March 5, 2009


Shit, I loved that! Wow! The part with Rorschach and the dogs broke my heart.
posted by grobstein at 8:53 PM on March 5, 2009


Seriously though Dr. Manhattan has the best job in the world: NAKED COMMIE PULVERIZER!
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:55 PM on March 5, 2009


They put orange briefs on Mr Manhattan?
Epic Fail.
I read the graphic novel again in preparation.
I cannot wait for Friday night.
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 9:00 PM on March 5, 2009


OH yeah .. to see anything in Imax
... watchmen would be a good first.

I am still an imax virgin
... pass the beer nuts
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 9:01 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Village Voice review is interesting in that it seems to nail why people are so divided on this film - it has all the plot of the book, but none of the magic.
posted by crossoverman at 9:03 PM on March 5, 2009


I noticed they stuck in the Wilhelm scream. Nice touch.
posted by WCityMike at 9:05 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I sat with a couple last IMAX flick I saw (The Dark Knight) who were seeing an IMAX film for the first time. Didn't get a chance to catch up with them afterward, but I felt bad, because I've been to good IMAX theatres and this wasn't one of them. The sound setup was completely inadequate. Make sure you go to a real IMAX theatre and not some converted room in a regular theatre. It will make a difference.

But yeah, gone are the days of documentaries-only IMAX. I mean, they were spectacular, but it's pretty great to see these flicks like that.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:11 PM on March 5, 2009


I was waiting for an episode to follow. Great stuff.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:17 PM on March 5, 2009


I kinda wish people who hate the movie would stop conflating it with the book. The NYT and New Yorker reviews are pretty bad this way (though I get the feeling Lane just skimmed it in search of the gruesome parts), but the Washington Post's write-up is just bizarre, with the guy completely reevaluating the book in light of the film. Invariably, the conclusions reached seem to bear no resemblance to any version of the book that I remember, e.g. this from the NYT: "The only action that makes sense in this world -- the only sure basis for ethics or politics, the only expression of love or loyalty or conviction -- is killing." I cannot even fathom a reading of the book this wildly off-base. Maybe some people who make their living watching movies can't quite manage the heavy lifting of reading, and just make up their own story to go along with the pretty pictures.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:19 PM on March 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ahhh, Newgrounds. What would the web be without you?
posted by not_on_display at 9:32 PM on March 5, 2009


I have very, very low expectations for this movie, and will bet Anthony Lane is right that Snyder's version "ends up twice as fascistic as the forces it wishes to lampoon," but the level of ignorance in Lane's review would be surprising coming from anyone else:

Moore distanced himself from both productions, and he has done so again with the new adaptation of “Watchmen.”

Lane seems not to understand that Moore distances himself from *all* films based on his work on general principles *before the films are even made.* How could you be a movie reviewer and not bother with the backstory here? Oh, right, you'd have to not give a fuck about popcult movies. He's been like this for a while, too. Godfrey Cheshire really nailed Lane in the NY Press back in 2000, after Anthony wrote a hilariously off-target review of 'Crouching Tiger' that was "a riot of errors and absurdities that would make the shoddiest webzine blush."

Cheshire's piece is worth re-reading now for the way it demonstrates that nothing's changed in Anthony Lane's world. He still has the same hilariously shallow and ill-informed view of genre film Cheshire pointed out then:

What’s at issue here has nothing to do with "opinion," or whether one likes or dislikes Crouching Tiger. It has to do with the critic’s basic grasp of his subject, in this case a movie that combines the sleek gravity of a Western art film with the high-flying acrobatics of a Chinese martial arts movie. Lane seems to have trouble with both sides of that equation, and I can imagine a couple of reasons why.

For one, he’s not really a film critic but a quip-minded belletrist who happened into a lucrative gig and appears to have no inclination, now, to patch up the gaping holes in his knowledge of film. (Why learn anything about a subject that’s only there to be the object of one’s witticisms?) Thus his review reflects a virtually complete and unapologetic ignorance of Chinese action-movie traditions and conventions that, besides being of central importance to Crouching Tiger, are by now familiar to many Western movie fans. The only name he mentions, Bruce Lee, is the one Chinese star your granny in Dubuque knows.


Like I said, nothing's changed in Anthony Lane's world since then. Oh, and I liked the cartoon.
posted by mediareport at 10:00 PM on March 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why learn anything about a subject that’s only there to be the object of one’s witticisms?

While I agree that Lane should perhaps display a little more knowledge and *ahem* respect when reviewing pop culture or low art, I have to say that Anthony Lane is a very witty writer. And he's somebody you read on the train to pass the time on the way home. And he's not necessarily writing for an audience that's familiar with, or necessarily appreciates the post-modern exercise that is the Watchmen comic.

I first discovered Watchmen in the early 90s, while in university, and loved it. I picked up a copy a little while ago and enjoyed it, but found Moore's themes a little half-baked, and I eventually ended up trading in Watchmen at Russell Books for a credit.

It's too bad that Lane doesn't better understand the finer details of the comic book (or "graphic novel").
posted by KokuRyu at 10:22 PM on March 5, 2009


it has all the plot of the book, but none of the magic.

See, now, this has been my worry with Watchmen all along.I love Watchmen. Watchmen was the first graphic novel I read, and the one which gave me faith in and respect for the medium. That medium, however, has very different budgetary concerns than film does.

If Alan Moore had written an equal-length book about teenage punks doing nothing more than taking shits and flipping each other off, it would have cost exactly the same as Watchmen did. If you're working in four-color or whatever, one picture is the same as another.

On film, however, you have to deal with shit like Dr. Manhattan.

I've found it a little bit laughable when all of the press releases and reviews have talked about how Watchen was supposed to be "unfilmable." WTF? If you excise the bits about the Pirate comic book and such (which you'd really have to do for coherence's sake anyway) then the book is nothing but a series of awesome storyboards, ready to shoot. The movie isn't unfilmable, but unproduceable, because the "magic" isn't anything like the magic of Harry Potter or a Batman film, but one of exhilirating cynicism. That's a tough feeling to nail down in the best of circumstances, and not made any easier by having studio execs who've probably never read the book breathing down your neck trying to recoup their many millions.

And again, this all comes back to Dr. Manhattan. As I've said, I revere the book, but the one element that never really worked for me was Dr. Manhattan, and the book spends a long, boring amount of time on him doing things that don't really fit at all with the intriguing, earthbound, relevant universe Moore set up. Of course, that's the point, but it makes things much harder to produce. I know that I might be alone on this one, but to me, Dr. Manhattan, for as much time is spent on him, just isn't a very compelling or fully realized character. I just care far more about everyone else involved to give a shit about his trip to Mars, is what I'm saying.

Years ago, I flirted with writing a spec screenplay adaptation of Watchmen, just t prove it could be done. Taking a cue from Steve Kloves, who excised the central hundred pages from Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys and in doing so came up with probably the best possible film version, I mused over whether it would be possible to cut out Dr. Manhattan entirely, and just focus on the earthbound stuff. Of course that wouldn't work at all. No matter how much I bitch about him, Dr. Manhattan is central to the plot, playing the role of an exhausted God whom the people no longer want, and his god-like powers, combined with his apathy for the world, provide a powerful foil for Veldt's realpolitik "compassion."

But from a studio perspective, you're spending that much money on your Blue Man, and so he better do something. Dr. Mahattan becomes the focus of the story rather then the tangent he was in the book. The change of the ending makes at least a little bit of sense - The world is already afraid of Dr. Manhattan, and since Veltd knows he can't kill him, he may as well just ostracize and neutralize him. What I'm concerned about it too much Dr. Manhattan, just because it took so long to create.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:39 PM on March 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't say reviewers so far are split as much as they are uncertain just how bad Snyder's Watchmen is. Ebert's 4 star review basically says, "I have no idea what's going on but it was kinda cool." Well -- I think it's the worst Moore adaptation yet.
posted by muckster at 11:07 PM on March 5, 2009


Related: Ombudsmen

I may not know much about comics but Kurtz's parody of Watchmen is pretty damn clever. I am becoming way too much of a PvP fanboy.
posted by GuyZero at 11:14 PM on March 5, 2009


my review is that it was awesome - but I think those who haven't read the book might be at sea for the first hour or so.
posted by moxiedoll at 12:04 AM on March 6, 2009


Well -- I think it's the worst Moore adaptation yet.

What about League of Extraordinary Gentleman?
posted by Diskeater at 12:08 AM on March 6, 2009


So, I just got back and I thought it was really great. Maybe this is just the high of seeing the characters I love portrayed with seeming accuracy, and maybe the changes will catch up with me...but I don't think so.

It's not the book, but it's a good movie.
posted by Brainy at 12:30 AM on March 6, 2009


I saw it with a room full of people who seemed to love it: it reminded me of 300 in that it was more skillful than soulful. I suppose it hit all the points it had to, and cut exactly the corners it needed to tell the story, but ultimately a lot of Moore's themes about the limits of violence in solving problems disappeared so we could get more scenes of people using violence to solve problems.

It was quite good, but for me it still fell a bit short of the mark for reasons I cannot articulate. Suffice it to say it was as good a job of adapting a nearly-400-page novel into two-and-a-half hours of film as anybody could do.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:52 AM on March 6, 2009


I just read the book, I plan to see the movie this weekend, possibly on IMAX, though... was it filmed on 70mm or just blown up? And I'll probably get good and baked first. I had big problems with the pace of the book's final act and I want some slavering fanboy to explain to me why a squid is so thematically vital, please. There are other ways to mindfuck people. I mean, they never really dealt with the fallout (ha, punny) of the science that was in progress when Dr. Manhattan was created... You think the governnment just forgot about it?

Where I'm coming from is, the only reason I currently have to boycott Watchmen is that this is not being produced as an amazing musical mashup extravaganza with this so I can get this with some cinematic flourishes.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:06 AM on March 6, 2009


ultimately a lot of Moore's themes about the limits of violence in solving problems disappeared so we could get more scenes of people using violence to solve problems

Maybe that's why the movie was a bad idea.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:38 AM on March 6, 2009


One word comes to mind about the movie: uneven.

The movie was full of missed opportunities and misfires. It's fairly entertaining visually but while there are some really good performances, most notably by the actor playing Rorschach, most of them come off lacking real emotion. And no, I'm not referring to Dr. Manhattan, either. The timing of the dialogue in some of the initial scenes was off and, as a result, lost any impact they could have had. This happens as well in Ozymandias's speech in the climax, too, and that was a fumble which was really hard to swallow.

It seemed like half the time they wanted to have the screen-to-page fidelity of Sin City but were rather inconsistent about it. The scenes where they deviated from the book were rather unlike the ones where they didn't that the difference was rather jarring. Frankly, I think more liberties should have been taken to make the rest of the movie support the ending which they chose. While I think the choice they made regarding the climax was a decent one (space squids would require too much additional backstory) they didn't manage to sell the ending very well. The reasons why would probably entail too much in terms of spoilers that I'll forgo that here.

Ultimately, I think the movie needed a director with more courage to make a movie which deviated from the source material and recognize that a 2.5 hour movie still can't capture what the book was about. This was a tentative attempt to please both fanboys and moviegoers and, speaking as a member of both camps, I can say that I would be much more forgiving of a less-than-faithful adaptation if it stayed true to the spirit of the original material and provided an exceptional moviegoing experience at the same time. Unfortunately, this wasn't such a movie. Nonetheless, I would rate it a B.

I'm still holding out for HBO to greenlight a miniseries based on the book. Get a decent director behind it and you can have your cake and eat it, too.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:47 AM on March 6, 2009


@ ooga_booga:I'm still holding out for HBO to greenlight a miniseries based on the book.

If this fmovie is enough of a hit, I wouldn't be surprised to see Time-Warner/HBO/etc. roll up their shirtsleeves and try to make an 'Angels in America'-type splash with 'Watchmen', especially considering that there will be no sequels and the best way to recapitalize upon the original property would be to redo the thing at a fitting length.

But, like Marvel's Hulk redo, we may have to wait 3, 5 or 10 years to see it happen.

The one salvation there is that talent like Terry Gilliam, Darren Aranofsky and maybe eveen Scorcese could be on-board by then.
posted by vhsiv at 2:20 AM on March 6, 2009


The one salvation there is that talent like Terry Gilliam, Darren Aranofsky and maybe eveen Scorcese could be on-board by then.

Presumably, Gilliam does the pirates.
posted by rokusan at 2:42 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]




I remember watching the Watchmen Saturday morning cartoon. It was great. I'd sneak downstairs early, pour myself a big bowl of Rorschach's Sugar Beans and camp out in bliss for an hour or so. The second half of the Veidt Power Hour, Captain Dawg's Tails of the Bark Freighter, was pretty good too (although it has not held up if you go back and watch it now - the only lasting impact Bark Freighter seemed to have is Holly Roger furrie porn).

My favorite episode was when they went to England to investigate that haunted castle but it turns out it was just Count Moloch up to his usual tricks. My sister still gets a little squiggy around empty suits of armor because of that song they sang. For awhile, all I needed to do to freak her out was go "Clang Clang Clang!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:41 AM on March 6, 2009 [11 favorites]


Where I'm coming from is, the only reason I currently have to boycott Watchmen is that this is not being produced as an amazing musical mashup extravaganza with this so I can get this with some cinematic flourishes.

Alan Moore: "In the first two volumes {of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen} we were dealing mainly with characters from literature, because characters from literature were all that were around up until roughly the end of the 19th century. With this one, the first one set in 1910, we're using characters from the stage as well as literature. We're using the whole Threepenny Opera storyline. With the second one, set in 1969, we've got access to all of the films and television that were around then. The third part, set in the present day—2008, 2009—we have characters from all of the new media that have evolved over the past 30 years." (Yes, I appreciate the irony that I'm not looking forward to Zack Snyder's leadenly literal adaptation of Watchmen, but I can barely contain my anticipation for Alan Moore thoroughly messing around with his source material for the third installment of LoEG.)

And slightly more on topic is this treatment of Quentin Tarantino's homage to 70's Hanna-Barbera cartoons for his hypothetical adaptation of Watchmen (from Slate's "What if Woody Allen Had Directed Watchmen?").
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:01 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ah, comic book fans, you are the original bean-plate-overthinkers. This parody mashup with Saturday morning cartoons is hysterical and brilliant and you should love it for the simple, funny thing it is. Get over yourselves.

I'm as excited as a fanboy for the movie, too. Although I went back and reread the book this last week and was reminded, again, at how much of a letdown the last two issues are. Mid-life crisis super heroes? Good. Confusing super hero saving the world plot? Not so good.
posted by Nelson at 5:01 AM on March 6, 2009


Incoherent, overblown, and grimy with misogyny, “Watchmen” marks the final demolition of the comic strip, and it leaves you wondering: where did the comedy go?

Comedy? Oh, Anthony Lane. You can't fool us. You haven't laughed at anything since 1971 and even then we think it might have just been gas.
posted by Spatch at 5:31 AM on March 6, 2009


Well -- I think it's the worst Moore adaptation yet.

What about League of Extraordinary Gentleman?


LXG was pretty bad, but it was goofy and sort of fun and didn't take itself too seriously. What kills me about this Watchmen film is that everybody seems to agree that it's "faithful" to the book, perhaps even "too faithful." I don't think it is at all, except on the most superficial level. Many of the images aim to recreate panels from the comic, but the last time I checked, the book's look wasn't nearly as dark and murky as Snyder's film. It's always raining in the movie, and the book was actually a pretty bright and colorful affair. And that's just for starters.

As for the squid: at first I didn't think it mattered that they changed the ending -- it sort of seems to work the same way -- but a day later, I got all fanboy indignant about it. Still am. Why the fuck would you spent $150 million on something you claim is a "faithful" adaptation, and then cavalierly rip out the punchline? The squid is so squishy-psychedelic-bizarre that changing it is in fact a huge deal, and what you're left with isn't anywhere near as freaky and disturbing. You can call it what you like, but it's not really Watchmen.
posted by muckster at 6:27 AM on March 6, 2009


Upon watching it again, I think my only real problem with it is the music. The visuals are uniformly pretty good, but the theme song isn't up to snuff, and it isn't a tenth as catchy as the songs from most of the 80's cartoons it's parodying.

Also, the guy who made this did a sneak peak of the American remake of Akira a few months ago.
posted by EarBucket at 6:41 AM on March 6, 2009


I liked Dr. Manhattan turning into a car and winking, after killing a bad guy with cancer. Also, Silk Spectre reading three of him a goodnight story.
posted by sandraregina at 8:02 AM on March 6, 2009


bookish There seems to be a certain type of critic, usually the most sneering and disdainful, who manages to hold on to the job despite demonstrating a complete lack of understanding for what he's reviewing.

My local rag had one for a while, and the similarity between him and Lane is striking. I didn't know out local critic even existed until I got involved in a small theater company.

The biggest similarity was his ability to criticize a production for doing something exactly right. When we did Barefoot in the Park he complained that our Paul was played as a stuffed shirt. The fracking character is *DESCRIBED* in the dialog as a stuffed shirt! When we did Chicago he complained that our Amos was forgettable and flat.

And now we see Lane compalin
You want to hear Moore’s attempt at urban jeremiad? “This awful city, it screams like an abattoir full of retarded children.” That line from the book may be meant as a punky retread of James Ellroy, but it sounds to me like a writer trying much, much too hard; either way, it makes it directly into the movie, as one of Rorschach’s voice-overs.
And miss the point entirely. Yes, its a horrible line, its beyond trite, its pathetic. That's the point. It isn't that Moore thinks that line sounds cool, or nifty, but that Rorscharch is so far gone into his own madness, his own delusions of superheroness that *HE* thinks its a great line. You get the impression that Rorscharch spends quite a bit of his free time thinking up lines like that, not because its a genuinely cool line but because he's a psychopath.
Amid these pompous grabs at horror, neither author nor director has much grasp of what genuine, unhyped suffering might be like, or what pity should attend it; they are too busy fussing over the fate of the human race—a sure sign of metaphysical vulgarity—to be bothered with lesser plights. In the end, with a gaping pit where New York used to be, most of the surviving Watchmen agree that the loss of the Eastern Seaboard was a small price to pay for global peace.
Again, yeah, that's the fricking point Mr Lane. The "heroes" are, at absolute best, morally ambiguous and at worst psychopaths only a few steps closer to sanity than Rorschach. He's perfectly accurate in describing the situation, and the "heroes'" acceptance of it, as "metaphysical vulgarity", but somehow manages to miss that's the entire point of the film.

The concept of subtlety or that of unreliable narration seems completely lost on Lane. He sees only that Rorschach is the narrator, and therefore assumes that his narration should be, and is intended to be, taken at face value. Thus if the narration is composed of borderline incoherent attempts at Batman style "cool" the incoherence, the complete failure to achieve that cool, is seen as a fault of the writer, not a deliberate effort on the writer's part to show us that the narrator is not reliable, that his opinions, his commentary, cannot be taken at face value.

The local critic who panned theater companies for playing characters as written set his sights too low. If only he'd managed to miss the entire point of movies, while complaining about the elements that make those points, he could have gotten a job at the New Yorker instead of writing for a third rate local rag.
posted by sotonohito at 8:07 AM on March 6, 2009


Oh, and on topic, I found the cartoon intro to be perfect in every way. The "funny" voiced animal companion, Rorschach's transmogrification into a loveable slapstick type character, the creepy incest overtones, I can't think of any way to improve it. Its better than the American Akira trailer the same artist did, and I thought the American Akira trailer was pretty damn good.
posted by sotonohito at 8:09 AM on March 6, 2009


they are too busy fussing over the fate of the human race—a sure sign of metaphysical vulgarity—to be bothered with lesser plights.

Lane is a tool.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:54 AM on March 6, 2009


I've come around on CBC reader comments. Now they strike me as quite insightful, though not regarding the intended subject of commentary.

Eh, as nifty as it may seem, I've never been a fan of Alan Moore. Just haven't really read any of his work.

.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:06 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I saw the movie last night. One thing that continuously bothered me about it was that he kept particular scenes but made changes to it that made no sense to me.

Are spoilers okay?

I'm going to do some minor spoilers.


After Dan and Laurie's love scene in the oil ship, in the book, Dan starts talking about breaking Rorschach out of prison in a way that Laurie totally misunderstands what he's talking about. It's a great little bit of humor that really lightens the mood of the book. For some reason, Snyder plays it straight, which kind of makes the scene boring.

Another scene is the (excessively violent) fight between Dan and Laurie and the Knot Tops that in the book is intercut with Manhattan's interview in a way that what he's saying in the interview relates to what's going on in the fight. In the movie, it's still intercut, but the clever interplay between words and actions is almost totally missing. So a scene that adds to the theme of interconnectedness and synchronicity in the book instead seems completely gratuitous in the movie.

There's a lot of that in the movie that makes it frustrating to watch as a fan of the original book, because it seems like it would have been just as easy to do it right.

The thing that really bothered me is Rorshach's big flashback, and the culmination of it. Rorschach in the book is quite adamant that there is no god, that the world is morally blank. And Snyder changes it to "If there is a God..." and makes it much more ambivalent and weaker. Atheism is one of the core themes of the book and Snyder seems unwilling to confront it head on, which really weakens the whole movie for me.

At the same time, some of his biggest changes from the book worked better than stuff that he kept in verbatim -- the opening credits sequence and the new ending both really worked for me, for example.

I think, in a good adaptation, you get a sense of why the director chose to adapt the material. For example, Kubrick's The Shining was unmistakably _Kubrick's_ The Shining, while still getting across the core of the material. I don't get a sense that Snyder really connected with the Watchmen in a way that he NEEDED to make this movie. I think he made it because he could.
posted by empath at 10:08 AM on March 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


That said, I don't think it was a bad movie -- 3.5/5 stars.

I think I might have liked it better than The Dark Knight, but I think I need to seem them both again to be sure.
posted by empath at 10:09 AM on March 6, 2009


Is there such an emotion as "appalled delight"? Because that's what I felt while watching the cartoon.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:27 PM on March 6, 2009


The great thing about this is that having read and re-read Watchmen, I feel completely ok about wading into spoiler-laden reviews of the film.

It sounds like this film did exactly what I was afraid it would do - missed the soul of the book. That being said, I will still see it (someday).

The shame of it is that my wife - who normally detests "comic book" movies - has gotten intrigued by this one, having heard me rave about the book. I better make sure she reads it before we get anywhere near the movie.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:49 PM on March 6, 2009


Yes, make sure she reads the book before she sees the movie..

But, I do believe, in my unbiased way, that your fears are unfounded... this movie is well done, and, as someone who enjoyed the novel, you'll find much about the film to like...
posted by HuronBob at 5:19 PM on March 6, 2009


Salon's Andrew O'Hehir sounds pretty blown away. I'm actually interested to see it after reading that.
posted by EarBucket at 5:41 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks HuronBob and Earbucket. Perhaps I should not be so quick to judge.
posted by never used baby shoes at 6:05 PM on March 6, 2009


I've read all the reviews I can find, and they run 70% positive. Snyder obviously didn't destroy it.

I have one pal who never read it. He was blown away by the trailer and asked me about it. As an experiment, I forbade him to read it untill after seeing the film. He's my control group.
posted by vrakatar at 6:33 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ebert: Gee I like movies.

Anthony Lane: Boy I’d like to have sex with Billy Crudup and I’m really frustrated that I can’t. So hey, screw this movie.

F’ing Slate. Quite wrong.
"What if Woody Allen Had Directed Watchmen?"

Man in Theatre Line: It just so happens I teach a class at Columbia called "Alexander of Macedonia and the Ancient World." So I think my insights into Adrian Veidt have a great deal of validity!
Dr.Manhattan: Oh, do ya? Well, that's funny, because I happen to have Ozymandias right here, so, so, yeah, just let me... [teleports Veidt out from behind a nearby poster]... Come over here for a second... tell him!
Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt: I heard what you were saying! You know nothing of my work!...How you got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing!

Rorschach: Has anybody read that Knot Tops are gonna march in New Jersey? Ya know? I read it in the newspaper. We should go down there, get some guys together, ya know, get some bricks and baseball bats, and really explain things to 'em.
Captain Metropolis: There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed page of the Times, just devastating.
Rorschach: Whoa, whoa. A satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the point of it.
Captain Metropolis: Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical force.
Rorschach: No, physical force is always better with Knot Tops.

Silk Spectre: You are so self-righteous, you know. I mean we're just people. We're just human beings, you know? You think you're God.
Dr.Manhattan: I... I gotta model myself after someone.

Iconic shot of Dr. Manhattan and Laurie sitting near the bridge.
*giant psychic squid explodes over the horizon, carnage ensues*
Dr.Manhattan: “Y’know, I don’t care what anyone says, this is a great town.”
posted by Smedleyman at 7:12 PM on March 6, 2009


I have one pal who never read it. He was blown away by the trailer and asked me about it. As an experiment, I forbade him to read it untill after seeing the film. He's my control group.

Jesus! You'd never get that past your Human Subjects Committee.
posted by grobstein at 9:09 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The biggest thing that annoyed me about the movie was the three dude bro tools in the seats behind me, who fucking giggled every time Dr. Manhattan's glowing, blue dick had a cameo.
posted by FunkyHelix at 9:58 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just want to say that at the 32 second mark, where Nite Owl dances, all I could think of was "NITE OWL IS A PARTY DUDE (HURAAAAAAAY)."
posted by champthom at 11:02 PM on March 6, 2009


The thing that got me about the ending of the movie was:

SPOILER WARNING


They go on about the fact that it's all about oil and energy and that Oz and the Doc are racing against time to solve the energy problem by finding out how Doc does his thing before a international tensions over oil lead to a nuclear exchange that destroys many major urban centers.

And then Oz figures out how Doc does his thing and rather than say "Dudes, chill, because, hey! Doc juice over here - Manhattens all round" he uses this awesome source of new energy to blow the crap out of many major urban centers.

Did I miss something?
posted by Sparx at 1:36 AM on March 7, 2009


Can't post this as a main article as it seems I haven't commented enough, but I thought this bit of Watchmen geekery was cool.

Veidt's Mac SE/30 is much more than just a Mac SE/30. It is a custom "Tempest Macintosh" by Candes Systems Incorporated, which were made with all metal cases and a shielded flop-down front to foil RF data snoops. Digibarn has one.
posted by pashdown at 4:36 AM on March 7, 2009


I think the film did an amazing job of getting a whole lot of material from the book in, and I also appreciate that it follows the basic narrative structure of the book, which feels very laid back in movie form. The temptation to restructure events to match a more conventional dramatic pacing must have been there, I'm glad it was avoided (there is some reordering, but fairly minimal and unobtrusive).

I agree with those who think the most lacking aspect of the film is emotional resonance. In the book, I really care about these crazy fucking people, so what happens matters. And the existential tension of the hyperactive arms race/doomsday mindset fails to materialize in the film, too, but that may not be Snyder's fault; we live in a different time. Some things are jarring, though: the actress who played Sally is terrible, clearly cast from the outside in, and the guy playing Dan is also pretty mediocre, and I was underwhelmed by Veidt, so some of the core emotional relationships/motivations among the characters never convince. Synder's visual fidelity was the greatest weakness of the movie in this aspect, that he clearly wanted actors who looked as much like Gibbons' drawings as possible, even if they can only act passably.

But it's a sprawling, helluva movie nevertheless. (This all has not much to do with the post, sorry.)
posted by LooseFilter at 11:38 AM on March 7, 2009


Oops, I meant to say the actress playing Laurie is terrible.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:46 AM on March 7, 2009


Here is my interpretation of the best possible adaptation of Watchmen to the silver screen:

An enthusiastic neckbeard walks onscreen in silence, carrying the watchmen graphic novel. The camera slowly switches to over-the-shoulder as he turns the pages slowly for the audience. Then he takes a bow and walks away.
posted by tehloki at 12:56 PM on March 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Spoilers........


*****************
I like replacing the squid with framing Dr. Manhattan but if Ozymandias has discovered how to harness Dr. M's power, it seems like he could think of less destructive means to his end. But as with a lot of the story driving dialogue in the movie, his explanation went by quickly so maybe I missed something.
*****************
posted by starman at 3:24 PM on March 7, 2009


I just took my mother to see it. My partner didn't much care for Wachmen, but for whatever reason my mom became a huge fan. She's also responsible for bringing the book to around 10 of her ninth grade English class.

I have to say I was impressed. I have my quibbles, but in general I must say that the movie really was amazingly good. Snyder's decision to compress a lot of the history and notes into the opening sequence was a good one, it helped set the stage for non-fans and gave us a chance to see stuff that would otherwise never have made the cut (Eddie taking out JFK, for example).

The new ending didn't really bother me. I was never wedded to the squid, and really the "Earth unites in face of outside threat" idea seems sufficiently absurd that whether you do it with a squid or Doc Manhattan doesn't seem to make much difference. The important part was the moral ambiguity, the fact that the villain (what else can you call a man who murders 14 million but a villain?) was not brought to justice, but rather than he enlisted the aid of the supposed heroes. That we are left, not with a Hollywood good triumphs over evil scenario, but with a murky situation in which the only person who seems to possess any moral sense is a complete psychopath.

The Tale of Important People is such a staple of all fiction and all but universal in movies. The tale of Darth Vadar's "redemption", for example, shows that the movie makers and the audience are perfectly willing to see the existential angst of a single Important Person as a more moving and important issue than the deaths of billions. Watchmen shows the moral and ethical vacuum of such thinking. We are invited to sympathize with the Important People, and then shown how truly amoral they are and how amoral the decision to sympathize with them rather than the unimportant victims is.

Snyder kept that, and to me that's much more important than the squid.

Also, he kept Adrian's "Do it?" line, and I'll admit that I'd have a good feeling about the movie for that alone.
posted by sotonohito at 6:37 PM on March 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Did anyone else who has seen the movie notice that in the scene where Rorschach visits Laurie and Manhattan, Doc Manhattan is talking to Adrian on that little teevee screen and Adrian has a bunch of bustling scientists doing science-y things and behind them is some science-y machine that is labeled with five words which I didn't notice but which form the acronym S.Q.U.I.D.? Because that right there made it okay for me that they changed the ending.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:28 PM on March 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I pretty much have a laundry list of problems with this movie, and I won't bore you with them, but I have to give Snyder props for turning the scene with L'il Rorschach biting the rotten kid's face into an homage to A Christmas Story.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:09 PM on March 7, 2009


One thing that irks me is people complaining about the blood and gore (breaking bones, splattered villians on the ceiling etc). This was just as much Snyder criticism on super hero movies as Moores deconstruction of comic books.

Think about it; Wolverine has knives coming out of his hands fer chrissakes, do you think we'll see him disemboweling villains in his upcoming movie? Up until Dark Knight the most Keaton/Kilmer/Clooney Batman ever did was give henchman a concussion when for all intents and purposes he should have been snapping elbows and cracking skulls open. Meanwhile here Silk Spectre II, supposedly the weakest of all the Watchmen, stabbed a man in the neck with nary a second thought!
posted by PenDevil at 8:14 AM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I watched it again on IMAX yesterday and found myself enjoying it alot more. I think I spent half of the movie the first time just comparing it to the book and found the differences too jarring. This time I let the movie be zack snyder's movie and really appreciated how well done it actually was. It really is a pretty amazing movie and I can't wait for the director's cut.
posted by empath at 8:45 AM on March 8, 2009


SPOILERS




I saw it last night and have to say I was dissapointed. It felt fake to me, like people doing Watchmen cosplay on film. Much of the visual poetry is gone. The mentions of oil seem a heavyhanded attempt to contemporize the story. And if oil is a problem in the film, why does Hollis Mason fix 'obsolete' cars? Major fuck up, there.

The performances run hot and cold. I found Laurie to be not as bad as some have said, but Carla Gugino(sic) just bloody awful as her mom.

And the scene where Adrian gets shot at and feeds the poison pill to his attacker? WTF? An actor playing Lee Iococa gets blown away? What, does Snyder have something against the guy? The scene is too prominent to be a throwaway, in fact it draws attention to itself, so someone thought it was clever or important, and it is just distracting and indulgent.

Likewise the love scene on the owlship. It could have been done so sweetly, and they fucked it up.

So I am sorry, Metafilter. I have to take it back: Snyder comes close to destroying it. Maybe it isn't his fault, however, I do get a sense that what people have said all along is true: Watchmen is too big and complex to be made into a credible film.

It will be interesting to see what my control group thinks, and I plan to have a copy of the trade on me to present to him the moment we leave the theater.
posted by vrakatar at 9:54 AM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Likewise the love scene on the owlship. It could have been done so sweetly, and they fucked it up.

I thought that too, until I went back to the book and realized that Moore & Gibbons made that love scene cheesy themselves (the music and Laurie hitting the flamethrower are in the book, I'd forgotten).

I was also disappointed (as empath said) that Snyder didn't take a minute to bring the scene with Rorschach and the psychiatrist to its conclusion, which of course explains the character of Rorschach and shows the psychopath to have the clearest moral assessment of the world of any character in the book. (His conclusions reached from the assessment are what's insane, not his understanding of the world, I think.)

And if oil is a problem in the film, why does Hollis Mason fix 'obsolete' cars?

I didn't think oil was any more of a problem in the film than it's ever been in the real world--the oil and auto execs were worried about their industries suddenly being obsolete overnight. Hollis Mason fixes "obsolete models" of cars, because he himself is an obsolete model, and his vocation is a metaphor for his fundamental emotional issues, like so many fictional characters.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:28 PM on March 8, 2009


I thought that too, until I went back to the book and realized that Moore & Gibbons made that love scene cheesy themselves (the music and Laurie hitting the flamethrower are in the book, I'd forgotten).

This may be an example of something that works on the page and not on the screen. This scene isn't cheesy at all in the book, but Gibbons's method of showing the scene is pure comics storytelling...the kind of thing that, when translated literally to film, results in something like the awkward compositions that show up in the worst parts of Ang Lee's Hulk. This is not the same as saying something simply does not work (the error a lot of movie critics -- who apparently believe that something that does not work in their chosen medium must not work at all -- are making in their revised judgment of the comic). There was actually no way to do the scene as Moore and Gibbons did it...other than having Comic Book Guy appear on the screen and hold the pages up to the camera, as somebody said above. That said, I think Snyder failed to capture the mood of the scene, if that was his intent. It may not have been, and I at least think it's perfectly within an adapting filmmaker's rights to revise a story point in order to make it work in the context of his/her own movie. Unfortunately, what he wound up doing...okay, well, I feel bad saying stuff like this with HuronBob right here in the room, but really, it was hard to watch. I'm not sure ANY filmmaker could have made that scene work, though.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:05 PM on March 8, 2009


This may be an example of something that works on the page and not on the screen.

Good point. Man, that scene was painful. Though I should add to "I'm not sure ANY filmmaker could have made that scene work, though" that I think a filmmaker could have not cast that terrible actress in Laurie's role. That would have helped.

I'm going to go see the film again soon, so I can have a less adrenaline-and-expectation-laden experience, maybe take it on its own merits a little more.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:29 PM on March 8, 2009


Snyder turned all of the violence in the story into violence-as-orgasm (which, let's be charitable and assume was done intentionally, and thus:) in an attempt to see the fascistic nature of heroes, super- or otherwise: As opposed to the book, where none of the characters (save Rorschach and Comedian) seem to enjoy violence so much as see it as an effective means to an end, Syder's Watchmen characters seem to see violence as an end in itself (see the alley fight with Laurie and Dan, the assault on the prison, etc.). This explains, as well, why Ozymandias doesn't seem to very much regret his killing of millions of people at the end (also different from the book). So: if the film treats in violence-porn in order to see how the characters think of themselves in violent situations, I can understand that these same characters, when latex costumes and a superhero ship, having just performed a superhero-ish task, would be presented as performing the sexual act in a gratuitous porny fashion. This reading places Snyder in a far more critical and less empathetic position towards his characters than was Moore, but I think it's a defensible reading.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:16 PM on March 8, 2009


Snyder turned all of the violence in the story into violence-as-orgasm (which, let's be charitable and assume was done intentionally, and thus:) in an attempt to see the fascistic nature of heroes, super- or otherwise: As opposed to the book, where none of the characters (save Rorschach and Comedian) seem to enjoy violence so much as see it as an effective means to an end, Syder's Watchmen characters seem to see violence as an end in itself (see the alley fight with Laurie and Dan, the assault on the prison, etc.).

Given Snyder's oft-stated reverence for the text, though, I have to presume that this was not intended as some Starship Troopers-esque subversion of the source.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:33 PM on March 8, 2009


I think if you go back and read the fight in the alley, you'll find that both the gory violence and dan and laurie's enjoyment of it are both in the text. I think snyder did dial it up, but I think about as much in comparison with other comic book movies as the original book was in comparison to other comics of the time. The violence was intended to be shocking in both cases.
posted by empath at 3:18 PM on March 8, 2009


One thing that I think is confusing to people encountering either the book or the movie for he first time is that people assume that the protagonists are always 'the good guys' and the antagonist is the 'bad guy'. That's not the case here which is one of the many reasons that I think the book and the movie are better the second time through.
posted by empath at 3:24 PM on March 8, 2009


Given Snyder's oft-stated reverence for the text, though, I have to presume that this was not intended as some Starship Troopers-esque subversion of the source.

I didn't mean that it was intended as a subversion of the source text, merely that Snyder, fascinated as he seems to be by violence, sees this as an efficient way to telegraphing the themes of the book through a different medium, and the change, by merit of being a change, alters the subtext.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:35 PM on March 8, 2009


I think if you go back and read the fight in the alley, you'll find that both the gory violence and dan and laurie's enjoyment of it are both in the text. I think snyder did dial it up, but I think about as much in comparison with other comic book movies as the original book was in comparison to other comics of the time. The violence was intended to be shocking in both cases.

I'd agree with that, actually, and certainly with the idea that the violence was sexual (there's no mistaking Dan's ruffled hair and Laurie's post-coital cigarette at the end of the fight; Dr. Wertham might have had a coronary). My problem was that I got the distinct impression there was some metaphorical fapping going on in the editing room, for one thing -- that the violence was amped up because violence is sweet -- and my other problem was that the preposterous nature of the violence undercut any realism might have tried to establish. The book is asking us to accept that this is a world real in every way except for the existence of costumed heroes (and someone who is essentially a god), and I think the movie is making the same demand, and so I don't really expect to see an alleyway brawl that defies the laws of physics. Like if you were watching The Godfather and suddenly Sonny Corleone was running up walls and using telekinesis to kill people? That's how stuff like the alleyway fight played to me.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:41 PM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't mean that it was intended as a subversion of the source text, merely that Snyder, fascinated as he seems to be by violence, sees this as an efficient way to telegraphing the themes of the book through a different medium, and the change, by merit of being a change, alters the subtext.

Yeah, all right. I just don't get the impression that the change was intentional, is all I'm saying here.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:48 PM on March 8, 2009


Laurie really is a joke, you guys. Does the vinyl suit make that hard to see? She's a special amazing snowflake so wonderful that she makes humanity's value apparent to Jon... and her super ability is really just being a girlfriend. She's the frustrating, even if ironic, revival of the pointless female character with nothing of substance motivating her. If they had tried to play her love scene straight I would have walked the fuck out. She drags the movie down, blank insipid, blot of cosmetics that she is, but I don't know if I'd prefer they made her work, that would have weakened what little resolve the film's themes retained.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:19 PM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


The worst part about Tales of the Black Freighter being dropped from the primary text, is that the critics who don't know shit missed their Brecht flag. That's gotta sting.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:24 PM on March 8, 2009


empath: Another scene is the (excessively violent) fight between Dan and Laurie and the Knot Tops that in the book is intercut with Manhattan's interview in a way that what he's saying in the interview relates to what's going on in the fight. In the movie, it's still intercut, but the clever interplay between words and actions is almost totally missing. So a scene that adds to the theme of interconnectedness and synchronicity in the book instead seems completely gratuitous in the movie.


No, was there. Not the same as in the book, but it was definitely there.

Still digesting this one. Not sure how I feel about the excessive violence. I get that it make a point, but that point always ends up being the new norm. The new ending seemed decent, but Bubastis makes no sense now.

Anyone else get the feeling that movies are increasingly becoming extended commercials for the Director's Cut DVDs?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:48 PM on March 8, 2009


Anyone else get the feeling that movies are increasingly becoming extended commercials for the Director's Cut DVDs?

Sure, but I don't see a problem with that: a movie will come out and people who like it might go buy a two-hour DVD months later, while people who really like it might buy the three-hour version, and people who really really like it will buy both. The studio makes more money, the director gets a chance to realize his or her true goals for the story, and the public has more choice. I am at a loss to see who is getting hurt here.

In any event, this is more of an issue with TV shows: there are several shows I own the entire (single season) run of, when something like three of the episodes were actually shown on TV.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:26 PM on March 8, 2009


I still have a lot to digest before I'm sure what I thought of the movie, but one thing I'm sure of: Jackie Earle Haley was excellent as Rorschach. His unmasked scenes provided the only moments of real human drama in the film. And he managed to turn in a performance while masked and speaking in a rasp, making Christian Bale's Batman look even worse than it did before.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:24 PM on March 8, 2009


I just saw the film, it's great. It's not quite the transcendent thing that the comic book is, but how could it be? Fun film on the surface level and enough of the emotionally complex elements are left in that it's got some depth, too. Well worth watching.

I'm sorry he didn't find a way to work in the Tales of the Black Freighter B-story. The countermelody works great in the comic book and the over-the-top gore reflects interestingly on the main story. Would be awfully tough to do in a linear film narrative, though, and the film's already half an hour too long. There's some hints it might turn up in a DVD release, though.
posted by Nelson at 9:10 AM on March 10, 2009


Nelson there aren't "some hints" there's giant advertisements telling us it'll be on sale soon. They showed one just before the movie started.

You can pre-order it on Amazon and be sure to have your copy on its official release date of March 24.
posted by sotonohito at 9:36 AM on March 10, 2009




Saw it last night and was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it (very low expectations helped, I'm sure). There's some idiotic pandering to the mainstream but it's minimal, and you'll leave imagining it with a cast of better actors, (except for Crudup and Haley) but overall it was a solidly enjoyable and reasonably intelligent version of one of the greatest comics ever. So, yeah, worth seeing on the big screen.

Billy Crudup's CGI schlong is quite nice, too.

Oh, and the substitute apocalyptic plot device works just fine - at least as well as Moore's giant squid, and (gasp) possibly better.
posted by mediareport at 4:09 PM on March 10, 2009


Oh, and the substitute apocalyptic plot device works just fine - at least as well as Moore's giant squid, and (gasp) possibly better.

I think it certainly works better in the framework of the movie. It's far more economical, which is a plus in the movies. In the comic you get to appreciate the way it ties in with the Black Freighter, and it makes for such terrific imagery of a destroyed New York. (Also, since one can linger in a comic book, one might more quickly question if the Russians wouldn't have launched their missles the moment that "Dr. Manhattan" attacked the world).

However, the decision to pull the punch of the explosions, and not show the shockingly violent deaths of millions, really deflated the ending. I'm not sure how someone who had never read the comic would have really felt the magnitude of what just took place.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:27 PM on March 10, 2009


The movie ending is slightly more comforting to us mere humans in its address of Dr. Manhattan, who because of his framing, is pressured to leave Earth, instead of taking off purely as a matter of his own preference. His stated plan to create some life, therefore, sounds more like an workable alternative than washing his hands of this planet's version. He comes out seeming more sympathetic, less pragmatic. It's a small difference, but in defining the various types of fatalism, misanthropy and narcissistic megalomania embodied in Watchmen's characters, I think it makes a significant difference.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:35 PM on March 10, 2009


Is it better to make him less distant?
posted by grobstein at 8:53 PM on March 10, 2009


David Hayter thinks watching the movie is like being brutally raped and beaten.
posted by empath at 12:06 PM on March 11, 2009


David Hayter sez: ". . . Like a fry-basket full of hot grease in the face."

I'm pretty sure the point of a fry-basket is that it doesn't hold grease!
posted by grobstein at 12:54 PM on March 11, 2009


David Hayter thinks watching the movie is like being brutally raped and beaten . . .

"[and] [y]ou'll come back, eventually. Just like Sally."
posted by grobstein at 12:56 PM on March 11, 2009




David Hayter thinks watching the movie is like being brutally raped and beaten.

That's a really misleading description of that very, very positive take on the film.
posted by mediareport at 7:41 PM on March 11, 2009


Yes. He (co-)wrote it after all. But it's a very accurate description of some of that positive review's rhetorical flourishes.
posted by grobstein at 9:56 PM on March 11, 2009


Who Watches Who Walks Out of "Watchmen"?

Some doozy comments in that one:

I love movies with superheroes! However, with the exception of Dr. Manhattan, none of these characters had any superhuman powers! They just put on a rubber costume and did a lot of martial arts fighting.

There was also a lot of dredging up of Nixon and Kissinger, JFK, etc. which was unnecessary. I also don't get how a superhero can also be a rapist.

posted by Bookhouse at 10:05 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only walkout in our theater was the mother and young son who stuck around for the rape scene, but got up and left when Dan and Laurie started making out on the couch. I found that pretty weird.
posted by EarBucket at 5:45 AM on March 12, 2009


Bookhouse I like this one better:
Oh, I stayed for the whole thing. It was a slimy, anti-american-whine-fest. Compromise with human slavery (i.e. communism) was held up as an ideal worthy of sacrificing untold millions to "unite" the world in WAR (called peace in the movie) against Dr. Dangle, who was entirely innocent
Yet another in the legions of people who Don't Get It. Its really amazing both how deeply the Made Bold Sacrifices to Save the World trope goes, and how unable, or unwilling, people are to see that when someone is presented engaging in the trope, we aren't supposed to assume that they really are the good guys.

It's worrysome from a political, as well as literary, level. I doubt GWB could have so easily done his thing if it weren't for the "he says he's trying to save the world, and we all know that Sacrifices Must be Made" meme.
posted by sotonohito at 8:32 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Alex Jones chimes in with his revew.
posted by empath at 9:18 AM on March 12, 2009




From empath's David Hayter link:

Because if it drops off the radar after the first weekend, they will never allow a film like this to be made again.

On the other hand, a 250-million-dollar opening weekend would cause Warner Brothers to announce a sequel posthaste.

I am puzzled by the stories I have been reading all week on its dismal box office. Insofar as box office receipts mean anything, it takes a helluva writer and analyst to survey the top ten movies for last weekend and declare that the receipts for number one movie is a staggering disappointment when it sold more tickets than numbers two through ten combined.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:56 PM on March 12, 2009


AAAGH hahaha. How is David Hayter NOT a critic? Such loss!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:10 AM on March 13, 2009


I am puzzled by the stories I have been reading all week on its dismal box office. Insofar as box office receipts mean anything, it takes a helluva writer and analyst to survey the top ten movies for last weekend and declare that the receipts for number one movie is a staggering disappointment when it sold more tickets than numbers two through ten combined.

See, the problem is that it only took in about a third of its production budget on opening weekend, and that's before promotional and marketing costs. Generally, a sci-fi/action flick like Watchmen has about a 50% drop from its first weekend to its second, and that means that it can expect to take in roughly half its domestic gross in the first weekend.

Now, there are plenty of reasons it didn't have a bigger opening. The length means it had fewer shows per night than a ninety minute movie would. The source material is relatively obscure, and there aren't any big names on the marquee. It's still the case, though, that while it vastly out-performed the rest of the dreck currently taking up space at the multiplex, it pulled in far less than it needed to to be profitable.

There's still foreign markets, although superhero movies generally underperform their domestic totals overseas. It will also likely have a long tail on DVD, as they'll be able to release several editions and count on the hardcore fans buying each one as it comes out. But looking at the daily drops in box office, I'd be very surprised if this made much money at all for the studio, even in the long run.

Which is a shame. I saw the movie, and it was a lot better than I expected. It had plenty of flaws; Malin Ackerman shouldn't be allowed in front of a camera ever again, and the musical choices were embarrassingly cliched, and most of the scenes went on about 10% too long. But there were lots of things to love about it, too, chief among them the fact that they absolutely, completely nailed Rorshach. Haley was perfect, and even behind the mask, he blew the other actors off the screen.
posted by EarBucket at 5:42 AM on March 13, 2009


So I finally saw it last night. Per the insane reviews and walk-out reports, I have no idea why anyone who is not a huge fanboy of the original comic would see this. I suppose if I was 14 again I would try to go see it but any 30 year-old who didn't buy the comics they day they showed up on the shelf of your local comic book store? Take a pass.

Malin Ackerman shouldn't be allowed in front of a camera ever again

Dude! I mean... duuuuuude. Dude.

chief among them the fact that they absolutely, completely nailed Rorshach

Holy shit yes. To be fair, it would be hard for anyone to blow it out as Dr. Manhattan or Night Owl. It's hard to bring intensity and detachment from all humanity at the same time.

Also, I could not get Kurt's parodies on PvP out of my head. Specifically, this one. I could not stop imagining Ozymandius saying "It's called time management, bitches. Look it up."
posted by GuyZero at 10:33 AM on March 13, 2009


For what it's worth, this is an old, but excellent annotation of the graphic novel. Definitely worth reading through if you're interested in the book's subtleties.
posted by EarBucket at 7:15 AM on March 14, 2009


The problem with the movie was that it was made American superhero fanboy. Had it been made by someone without such reverence for the graphic novel and thus willing to take more risks, there would have been a far meatier film. Snyder was too caught up in trying to faithfully reproduce the details and failed at the larger picture, while inserting idiotic easter eggs. The comedian was in room 300, get it, wink wink, nudge nudge. Yes Zack, I get it, you made another movie before this one, why are you reminding me, while I'm watching this one?

Long story short, it was plot driven with no heart. It was a terrible adaption of the comic. It was an ok movie. However, whoever green lighted the soundtrack needs to be fucking shot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:10 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


This may be nit-picky, but I felt that the revised ending undermined elements of the story that went otherwise unexplained. I gave away my copy of the book, so I cannot refer back to it, but as I remember, the reason Hollis Mason repairs obsolete cars is that Dr. Manhattan has obsoleted the internal combustion engine. This is also used to explain why the skies are filled with dirigibles. Dr. Manhattan’s contributions to science and technology provided the material used to create Rorschach’s mask[1] and Ozymandias’ genetically-altered pet[2]. The whole “free energy” subplot necessitated by the new ending seemed tacked-on and unnecessary.

[1] The character of Rorschach was stand-out fantastic in the film, but it seemed that someone failed to realize that the patterns formed in his mask were significant and calculated on behalf of Moore and Gibbons.

[2] This, in particular, just seemed to come from left field. Suddenly in the final act, without explanation, there’s some mutant cat thing prowling around?
posted by ijoshua at 7:51 PM on March 15, 2009


Yeah, the mutant cat is a total non-sequitor in the movie. It's one of those things that Zack Snyder seems to have felt obligated to have in the movie as a nod to the fanboys, but in retrospect would better be left out. It doesn't really make much sense in the comic book either, it's just this weird pet that Ozymandias has as part of his general weirdness. But in the movie it seems like a big deal to have it walking around, then getting killed, all in 30 seconds with no explanation.

The final fight between Night Owl, Rorschach, and Ozymandias doesn't work nearly as well as the comic book either. It's hysterical in the book, Ozymandias is going on about how brilliant he is and his diabolical plan and in every frame, hiding behind the speech bubble is some action shot of him deflecting an attack. It's so incredibly arrogant in the book, in the movie it's just some silly fisticuffs.

The movie's stuck with me, I think I want to see it again. It's good.
posted by Nelson at 8:32 AM on March 16, 2009


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