Monday, April 13, 2009

Watchmen (3.6.2009)

Director: Zack Snyder Starring: Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Matthew Goode Co-Starring: Carla Gugino, Robert Wisden Watch for: So many references to the book. I don't even know where to start. S.Q.U.I.D. Editor(s): William Hoy Would I Buy It: Prolly gonna camp out the Meijer's DVD section at midnight. And re-buy when I get Blu-Ray.

I have limited experience with Zack Snyder, but this was very obviously one of his movies. And I mean that in a good way. There's some who didn't like 300, from what I've seen, that simply have an elitist view of cinema, always thinking they know exactly what a movie should be and how it should turn out. If it isn't 100% faithful to the source material, it can't possibly be a good movie. It was a fairly hollow plot to begin with, but the movie was about as cool as a modernized ancient war film can get. So, keeping this in mind, try not to let the thousands of Watchmen fans convince you that the movie could've been better while they sell their unopened action figures on eBay, considering they (like me) didn't even read the book until they saw the Smashing Pumpkins-laden teaser trailer released with The Dark Knight. People are always talking about how "you should be true to the source material", and even moreso "Give the fans what they want." Let me fill you in on something, in case you haven't figured it out for yourself: The fans are morons. The fans are the ones telling you Venom should've been the villain in the original Spider-Man and were utterly convinced that we'd see War Machine in Iron Man. They rant about Optimus Prime's paint job and can't, for the life of them, figure out why they left out Tom Bombadil. The fans think Thomas Jane is a bad actor, and the fans think R'as al Ghul, Two-Face and Dr. Octopus are still alive and should return in further sequels. The fans are so eagerly tripping over themselves to find flaws in franchise film releases, they (almost) never sit back and watch the freakin' movie. I can imagine this is an easier task when you already know exactly what's going to happen before the movie's even released. Don't let the fans tell you that your movie sucks. They weren't going to like it anyway. Which is what I did the first time with Watchmen, sadly. Well, it wasn't that I didn't like it or that I was looking for things to pick apart at it, the problem was that I was comparing it. I'd read "Watchmen" since I saw the trailer, and being a comic nerd, thought I should read the original first. It's a good idea, it enriches the experience. I kinda wish I hadn't. It's a great book. It's a comic rooted (sort of) in reality, has a nice tidy moral and maintains a depth throughout that is a rare find in even the best written of serialized comic characters. The movie is the same way. Obviously, you can't have everything that's in the book in the movie. There just isn't time. For some reason, studioheads think people want their movies short. People think they want their movies short. I think I've been waiting a couple of years to see this thing, sitting in the theatre for an extra 30 minutes isn't going to kill me. I had this same argument for Dark Knight. Buncha whiners at that midnight showing. Anyway. So get past the whiners and band-wagon elitists. (Alan Moore, I blame you.) It's a solid film. What I mean about it being a very Zack Snyder-y movie is a few things. One, I don't know if it was the same action choreographer, but I can't help but compare 300's famous side-scrolling, time-ramping one-vs-many action scene with a similar scenario in Nite Owl & Silk Spectre's entrance into the prison. On top of that, one of the things that kinda nagged me about 300 was how simple the plot was. Watchmen is anything but a simple story, but I still somehow felt it lacked the "beef". We learned all about Doc Manhattan, we got a skipped-through version of Rorshach's backstory, and everyone had their little memoirs of the Comedian at his funeral. Well, three outta three ain't bad. It's not that I needed to see everyone's origin, but Snyder sort of put the characters in front of us and let us sort them into the archetypes their characters were designed to fit. It could've use more, somehow. Granted, I didn't realize this until my second viewing, which happened to be at a nearby IMAX. The look of the film is great. There's elements of 1980's cinema, such as the rainy noir detective music playing over Dan after Rorshach leaves the cave, not to mention Rorshach's monologues and most of his scenes in general. They nailed the period element, really made it fit the times. The music helped with that, I'm sort of shocked I didn't see that coming. The use of period music in a film set in an alternate interpretation of our history really helps sell it. This is what the opening credits were for. Each image took something anyone familiar with history could recognize, and threw in an element crucial not only to setting up the story, but almost completely telling the backstory and bringing us up to present day. Very well planned. I could go on about how they nailed Rorshach in costume and with an amazing actor, how the updates Ozymandias' costume, while strange in pictures, works great in the movie, blah blah. Fanboy stuff. The characters were all really great. Just what they needed to be as far as modern adaptations go. One part I didn't think about, logistically, until a friend pointed it out after my third showing, was how they shot the action. They backed up a few years style-wise and actually let us see what was going on. The bit that stood out to me was Owl vs. Ozy, and while they were basically standing their ground and throwing punches and kicks and their capes were swirling all about. "I know, because you could SEE them!" says my friend. The cameras backed up and just let us watch the fight, rather than dictating which part of the fight we should be looking at during any given moment. It was a good move, too, because I simply couldn't get enough of staring at these peoples' costumes. They're just... cool. Anyway. Read the book, or don't. If you at all are into the superhero genre, or historical fiction... or just cool action with a decent story, this is a good movie to watch. It's cinematically gorgeous, and while the narrative needs a little thickening, it still gets the story's point across. There were scenes I remembered from the book that I could quote word for word on my first viewing. I think this is the closest we've gotten to a literal translation of any given source material. Someday I'll get a shot-for-shot word-for-word movie of "The Death of Superman" made, but until then... this is the one to watch. film. The fans wanted to see War Machine in


*_*Antoine*_* said...

But the choreography of the fight scenes! The choreography! It was so performed!

Vapes said...


*_*Antoine*_* said...

The opening fight
The prison fight
The end fight

They were not real people fighting. They were superhuman people fighting and that's not Watchmen. Watchmen is real and the choreography was not. You could tell they were waiting to throw punches or to get hit.

Vapes said...

It didn't feel superhuman to me, but definitely people who'd spent a good portion of their time training to fight.

Remember Ozy's bio, better than every kind of Olympic athlete in every way. They didn't touch on that in the movie, but I imagine that's what it'd look like.

I definitely don't recall any waiting, and with years of watching the LCC, I've definitely seen waiting.