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19 March 2009 @ 01:14 pm
Watchmen review, complete with spoilers  
So, I saw the movie. Here are my thoughts, repeated from a comment on DaveRogue's lj.

Reading Watchmen changed my life, back when I read issues 1-11 in one sitting--on Ben Rosenbaum's couch if I remember correctly. I've had opinions on how the movie should be made for about fifteen years...but even if I hadn't, Zack Snyder's movie would still be ass.

A half-hour into the movie, I imagined I understood the equation that Snyder had in his head while aiming for box-office gold: faithful recreations of comicbook imagery for the fans, divided by porn, should equal 1 as much as possible. Sex porn and violence porn. Then he can attract interested and disinterested parties in equal measure.

While Snyder does faithfully recreate the comic's visuals and several memorable lines of Moore's dialogue, I can't help but think of Otto in A Fish Called Wanda: "Apes don't read Nietzsche." "Yes they do, Otto. They just don't understand it!" Snyder read the book, so he knows what scenes happen and what the characters say. He just doesn't know why.

He dazzles-up fight scenes with accelerated kung-fu-style effects, despite how much pains the book goes to to portray the characters as ordinary people. Showing Rorschach jumping between rooftops like Trinity eventually makes it pointless to wonder what makes an ordinary person do all the other things that the character does.

Snyder dwells way too long on porn-style sex scenes that look silly only to the extent that you've bought into the characters as real people. The book's version of the pivotal sex scene is admittedly quite sexy and a little kinky, but then, and in a way that makes me want to eat my hat, Snyder omits the brief dialogue that make sense out of it ("Did the costumes make it good? Dan?" "Yeah...It just feels strange...to come out of the closet.").

I thought Malin Akerman acted woodenly, although I guess she knows how to get through effects-laden action scenes. Laurie's scenes with her mother were painful to watch for all the wrong reasons.

Rorschach is suitably intense, but if anything too handsome (looking a bit like Clint Eastwood), and too bouncy (probably the result of trying to act with no facial expressions). I love the way the comic book can show stillness and motion at the same time. The writing fails to take a hard enough look at how painfully wrong Rorschach is most of the time--Snyder likes his bad-ass hero too much. And as cool as the mask effect is, I wished the blots on his face didn't have those feathery edges...the whole idea is that Rorschach doesn't like gray areas.

In 2009, it's difficult to make a movie about nuclear terror and the Cold War. But with all the superheroes making money in Hollywood, it's not too hard to make a movie that deconstructs superheroes, if that's what you're interested in doing. Zack Snyder would've been more effective if he'd taken the stuffing out of visuals from the Batman, Iron Man, Spiderman and Superman movies than by using Dave Gibbons' panels as storyboards.

Things I liked: the montage of the 20th century at the beginning (easily the strongest five minutes of the movie); Billy Crudup's nerdy voice for Dr. Manhattan; the clockwork citadel on Mars; Patrick Wilson's Dan Dreiberg; the old-school look and act of Stephen McHattie's Hollis Mason; Silk Spectre's vicious '80s bangs; all the nobody-cares crotch-shots of Dr. Manhattan. Snyder predictably does a much better job at portraying those parts of the story that line up better with a bad-ass, action-movie kind of story.
Ewigweiblicheewigweibliche on March 19th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
This sounds as bad as I expected it to be from watching the preview.
hrafntinna: sykurhrafntinna on March 19th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Ewigweiblicheewigweibliche on March 19th, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
I shall review that video at home.

No, I have not read the book yet as I am in the middle of two novels and WAY behind on my periodicals. Gah.
daveroguesf: BOOMdaveroguesf on March 19th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
These words deserved more eyes than they woulda gotten buried in my LJ - good on you for sharing them here.

I'm amazed how you don't even touch on the laughably overblown music on the soundtrack.
alizarin71alizarin71 on March 21st, 2009 03:04 am (UTC)
I'm not really as attuned to that sort of thing as you. Plus the plot, themes and visuals sort of scraped out my brain-pan, as if I'd caught a sneak-peek at the bloomers of a Lovecraftian elder god.