Sunday, March 15, 2009

Watchmen Impressions

Apologies up front for the lack of a good pun in the title... "Kurt Watches the Watchmen" was just too obvious. Which only means that I've already told it a few times.

I'm a bit late to the Watchmen party, I know, but I feel the need to vocalize anyway because it's my blog and I'm allowed. Dammit.

Most of the things that I was nervous about turned out to not be issues: the changed ending worked just fine, perhaps even a little (heresy ahead, also spoilers) better than the ending in the graphic novel. The squid is a bit tough to take, and the rationale behind it isn't explained very fully in the book. Which is not to say it doesn't work in the book, but the whole "framing Dr. Manhattan" angle seemed ever-so-slightly more plausible.

Every single thing about Rorschach was excellent. Jackie Earle Haley's performance was spot-on. The costume looked good, the characterization was great. My wife complained that his freckles looked fake (my wife was also pointing out continuity errors in the height of Silk Spectre's heels, for perspective). Right up until he fell out of a window and began doing Kung Fu. Which brings me to my first complaint:

The fighting was way too stylized, and that cost the fights some of their brutality. Snyder made up for it by making the fights extra bloody and broken bones-y, which I have mixed feelings about. Not the direction I'd have taken, is all I'm saying. The opening fight between a then-unknown assailant and a then un-masked Comedian was almost laughable in its precise execution. It didn't feel like a brutal murder--it was too Crouching Tiger.

And this is perhaps microcosmic (real word?) of my feelings about the movie more generally. It was too shiney, too polished. Polished grit rather than a real world that had been worn down to grittiness. I also found the nod to 300 during that fight scene to be gratuitous, but since my wife didn't even notice it, that may have just been me.

Other things:

I loved the additions that were made, particularly the opening credits. They showed a thorough understanding of the world of Watchmen and told a lot of backstory with great economy. I think a little more creativity on Snyder's part could have shaved another twenty minutes off the film. Do we really need every detail of Dr. Manhattan's history? Is there some reason we establish his relationship with Jane after finding out she has cancer? Other than a fanatical devotion to source material, that is. If we'd chopped out some of that, we could have bypassed the office lunchroom scene, which was the only time where I found Dr. Manhattan's nudity to be distracting (mainly because his penis was in the freaking center of frame).

Speaking of nudity, the sex scene was a bit ungainly, and I gotta be honest, Malin Aeckerman is less attractive to me now that I've seen her without a pushup bra. Which is not to say that she isn't still hot... it's just... I dunno, leave something to the imagination ladies. And I maintain that she was miscast as a 40-year-old. Not quite so badly as Ozymandias, who was miscast in many many ways and whose character committed one of my pet peeves: being ambiguously European. And for the record, the nipples on his costume were distracting. Abby and I talked about who might have been better. She suggested Brad Pitt, and while we both agree that he could have done a better job in the role, his presence would have been, not to overuse a word, distracting. But seriously, when you're looking for a blond paragon of male beauty, accept no substitute.

I found the disclaimers at the end somewhat humorous. None of the people accepted money to endorse a tobacco product. Good to know. I s'pose. Also, apparently the events depicted in this movie are fictional, and any resemblance to events or persons living or dead is purely coincidental, despite the fact that one of the pivotal roles is Richard effing Nixon. Who, I'm told, was a real person.

Of course, Snyder disguised his Richard Nixon behind a comically large nose.

Le sigh.

So, overall, it was good. Not stellar, but good. Deliberately crafted, even if I disagree with some of the deliberations, and it is quite interesting, which has some value.

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1 comment:

Ben said...

I still object- strongly- to the alteration in Rorschach's origin scene. In the book, I had the impression that, despite all of the anger and hatred and etc he was feeling, Rorschach snapped in a very calm, quiet manner. When he cuffed the killer, tossed him a hacksaw, and lit the place on fire, he was brilliantly, psychotically calm about it, if only on the outside. Like a really mean-spirited Zen.

In the movie, the simple butcher knife to the face while he was shaking and grunting gave the impression of somebody who just got so angry he lost control of himself. It didn't feel like the same scene, and I can't fathom a reason for that change.

I'm with you on the removal of the telepathic octopus. I had a hard time swallowing that in the book. This was more plausible.