Monday, March 9, 2009

Watchmen Thoughts

The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown.:

The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save Us!"...:

...and I'll look down, and whisper, "No".:

- Rorschach's Journal

If there is any truth to anticipation being a double edged sword, this movie probably proves it. The amount of hype that has been percolating since the announcement that Zack Snyder (who wasn't even done with 300) would be directing turned a lot of heads. 300's huge success only fed the fires, and every glimpse and trailer cut with Smashing Pumpkin and Muse tracks seem to solidify in geek minds that we were in for lightning to strike twice.

In most respects lightning did strike again, though perhaps not in the places that matter most in terms of the film's lasting impact. Watchmen is dense. The graphic novel takes 4 times longer than the movie to read. One does not just wade through alternate-earth coldwar ideology and mythology aimlessly. Snyder hits all the important notes right up until an ending that doesn't make alot of sense logically, but perhaps in the spirit of the graphic novel its heart is in the right place.

Some stuff that works:

Rorschach - this guy makes the movie. Jackie Earle Haley pretty much pulls a Ledger in terms of character transformation and interpretation. His scenes in the middle of the movie in jail are probably the strongest.

The action - Though a little more bare in terms of the action-per-minute ration that 300 had, when it happens it feels brutal and only serves to make the movie better. The opening Comedian fight and the jail-break sequences come to mind.

Cinematography - Money-shots. Seems to be Snyder's MO, and he strings a bunch of them together against beautifully realized set pieces. Speaking of money shots, there is a sex scene that easily feels 3 times longer (and probably is) than 300. Super heroes hittin' it from behind, we live in a great country.

Stuff that doesn't work:

Big Blue Dongs - ok so it's not that prevalent, and I am no stranger to what a member looks like, but Manhattan's CGI junk was distracting. Actually Crudup as Manhattan ala the Gollum treatment was probably unnecessary for about 2/3 of the time he is on screen. Of course, if you knew that Manhattan was completely CGI, than it is no stretch to sympathize why I found it so distracting: someone from MIT probably got hired to completely and accurately render a blue set of balls and their jiggleamiscitude. That was someone's job - and it was distractingly funny.

Silk Spectre(s) - The old one was played too campy, and the young one was played to stiff. Compare their performances to Haley's as Rorschach, and you can see that they probably didn't "get it."

Ozymandias - The personification of gay-face. I will also slip it in (that's what she said) here that this guy has the weakest back-story or explanation for a major player.

The Music - it has no real score, and instead supplements it with period pieces from the 60's-80's that are supposed to help put the film in it's proper temporal context. Half the time it worked, half the time the music seemed weird and anachronistic and didn't jive well with how dark and fantastical the movie was trying to be presented. I am looking at you Simon and Garfunkel.

The ending - Everyone who dies in the graphic novel dies here. I don't disagree why they didn't do the giant squid, it would probably look out of synch with the rest of the movie. Here is the logic behind the ending though: "If country X's weapon is used to destroy a city in every other major country, including country X's, then country X and the entire world will unite."

Yeah...not so much.

All in all there may seem like more things didn't work, but really some of them are only minor gripes. It’s the first major blockbuster of the season, and though my expectations weren't nearly met, it was still an awesome experience.


I need an original ratings system.

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