Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Review: Watchmen - The Movie

We just got back from watching one of the best comic-adaptations I’ve ever seen. There, I’ve said it. I thought the movie was incredible. It didn’t start well, though. The Comedian was getting thrown-around, punched-around, etc and the movie died. The screen went black. Silence. And I, of course, could not fight the temptation. I turned and said to my friends, “Who’s watching the Watchmen? No-one!” :-)

But I suppose that, in the heat of this moment, it’s almost easier to remember the flash and dazzle on the big screen than the panelled pages of a graphic comic. Then again, Watchmen is not exactly a comic, is it? No, it’s something more, much more deep than that. So let’s get to my impressions, shall we?

The beginning of the movie was very, very good. Not only does Zach give us a succinct what-we-need-to-know-in-that-moment history of the Minute Men, he also shows us that the world of the Watchmen is deeply different to our own. Case in point, The Silhouette kissing the nurse – Zach took an absolutely iconic moment and changed it, not only foreshadowing The Silhouette’s demise, but ramming it home just how different their world is. Silk Spectre’s likeness on the bomber that wiped out Hiroshima, too, was a nice touch. Then we get to The Comedian.

Hats off to Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Not only did it seem as if Zach had gotten someone who looked exactly like The Comedian to play the part, it seemed as if The Comedian himself had risen from his alternative-historical grave and taken on the part. Brilliantly acted! And showing how broken he actually is, so early in the movie, worked for me; the Hustler lying on the floor (or the table), drove it home that much harder along with the alcohol and the bathrobe. And don’t even get me started on the Smiley – pure brilliance! Panels from the graphic novel flashed before my eyes, and that excitement led to me realizing – shit, okay, The Comedian is gonna fall, soon, but that’s okay, because Rorschach is coming!

Rorschach. He has to be one of the best characters ever imagined, and seeing him in the flesh, basically, was a creepy, creepy delight. Even when he was just walking with his placard, or watching. Rorschach is, more than any of them, the Watchmen. Jackie Earle Haley did an absolutely incredible job of portraying Rorschach. I realize, of course, that CGI can do a lot to change someone’s appearance, but c’mon, didn’t he look like Rorschach? Wasn’t he just born to play the part?! Even the voice was how I heard it in my head while reading! Damn good job! And the mask…. Oh my lanta (to steal a phrase from the great House of El podcasters), the mask was divine. I will admit here that I didn’t notice the mask changing in the graphic novel; it went right over my head! One of the most important aspects of who and what Rorschach is, and I missed it. But I’m actually glad I did, because Zach brought it home with a sledgehammer. When you look at me, what do you see? A pretty butterfly? A cloud? Awesomeness. His back-story was also handled well – I’m sure many people will agree that his story is the most affecting. I did hope, though, that we could have seen his apartment and the placard – I think that many people won’t make the connection at all, sadly.

Mr Manhattan. I get a chill just thinking about it. The CGI was incredible, the eyes, the expression-less face, the voice, even the nakedness (and this might sound weird, but I’m very happy that Zach chose to keep it – though, too, people who haven’t read the graphic novel wont understand why he is naked, especially after the scene in Vietnam with The Comedian). Seeing him bursting Vietcong, then them kneeling before him in surrender, and then the incredible violence of the scene in the club – they all worked, because you just knew, without a doubt, that everything that had been human about him was dead. Foreshadowing the climax… His back-story could have been done a bit better, though. It didn’t really come through clearly that he was experiencing his memories, past present and future, as he does in the graphic novel. The scene with his father and the watch-pieces seemed a bit lost, too, without enough there to understand why it was such an important memory to him – but, I will admit, Zach did use it brilliantly as the means for John to die and to be resurrected.

More on the climax later…

Dan slash Nite Owl II. The hair, the expressions, the mannerisms, the silent anger, all acted brilliantly by , thought I did think of bumbling Clark Kent a bit too much. The costume was cool, but cool for comics, not for Watchmen. Though it was great to see the proper costume in that one scene, that made me happy. :-) The dream sequence – awesome! Jaw-hanging-open-drooling-in-amazement moment, no doubt. His moment with Rorschach perfect – finally coming to an understanding and giving Rorschach his one moment of painful humanity.

Silk Spectre II: ahhh, me not like so much. But then again, she was one of the weakest characters in the graphic novel, too. And come on, Zach, she smokes! How could you do the Archie flame-thrower scene and not have her trying to light her cigarette? She looked the part, shiny costume and all, and played the part well, but, like, I said, she’s a weak character, something I guess future rereads might change.

Ozymandias: once again, the costume was an issue for me. Too Batman Forever. I was looking for nipples, and I was happy when I saw them in the proper places. But that was Veidt, through and through. Acted im-peccably! It’s so easy to understand, now, how someone evil is also good. He was portrayed as more inhuman than Dr Manhattan, though, in my opinion, and lacked too much emotion.

Which brings us to the climax. Mr Moore, your ending is gospel, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But damn, didn’t Zach make it believable?! The message behind choosing Manhattan as the scapegoat instead of an engineered alien attack – sheer brilliance! The point of it, I’m sure, came across very well; some evil is, indeed, necessary.

And then back to Rorschach. Man, I almost started crying. That he realizes he is going to die, that he knows he would have done all he could to get the truth out – and then succeeding, too, with New Frontier – but still taking it… the best and saddest moment of the movie for me.

There’s much I haven’t spoken about – the soundtrack, the Mars-sequence, Bubastis, Nixon’s nose :-) , but I wanted to talk about what was, for me, the important aspects of the movie. I’ll be watching it again this coming week, and I think I’ll take a similar tack to Christopher Lee – instead of reading Lord of the Rings every year, I’ll be reading Watchmen. And damn if that DVD isn’t going to be making the walls shake when I get it! :-)


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