Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bubastis is my homecat. [mini review]

I wanted to throw up a real quick Watchmen review with my general thoughts on its primary issues before seeing the movie AGAIN in imax AGAIN.



The Rape. In the book, it is nine panels long. In those nine panels, the reader is given speech bubbles with uncomfortably detailed sounds in it and the image of a sixteen year old girl, bleeding copiously from the nose and mouth, being held by her outstretched arms face down on the floor. The next nine panels, lined up in mirror images on the opposite page, are the Comedian getting his, but it's those first nine panels that make up the actual attempted rape. They are stark, uncomplicated, brutal. Not the least bit sexy. She claws his face, he beats her up and knocks her to the floor.

"Oh, Eddie, no," she says.

The film doesn't give us this. The film gives us a sequence that is, of course, brutal in and of the fact that it's a rape in progress, that you have a sizable, powerful man beating on Carla Gugino who isn't exactly She-Hulk, and you have the two truly great shots of the sequence: The Comedian picking her up by her neck with the high heels of her boots skidding frantically over the floor as he drags her to the pool table, and the look of injury on her face after she's been thrown down onto it. As we who have read the novel know, the story of the Comedian and the Silk Spectre (both of them) is actually a love story that gets twisted and damaged like everything else that exists in the universe. The fact that she, on some level, did want Eddie, the fact that this is how it's happening, and the fear, guilt and resignation we see in Carla's expression- that was good stuff. However, the scene is much sexier in the movie.

How can attempted rape be sexy? I'm not saying the act is, I'm saying its visual components are. The way he slides his hand down her back, over the lacings and trappings of her costume. It should be abhorrent- I'm sure Snyder meant it to be. But it's not as abhorrent as pushing someone to the ground and tearing their underwear off while they try to breath through the blood that's blocking their nasal passages. Also, there's the pool table. It fetishizes the event. It's too pretty. You'd have to be a sick puppy to think the events on screen are hot (if you cognizantly recognize what it is that's happening, which... it's impossible not to) then, and this is me assuming you don't have rape fantasy issues, it can't be anything but awful. Still, I was expecting it to be much, much harsher. Too much set, too little sound effects- from the actors- took most of the bite out of this scene for me.

Which has wild repercussions for the relationships in the movie. By taking the level of intensity down from this one scene, you automatically make Sally and Eddie and Sally and Laurie and Laurie and Eddie's relationships just that much less tense, that much less charged. Hopefully, people new to the franchise will not find it lacking as I did, will be like "OMGWTF THAT WAS SICK" and feel the years of rage that spiral outward from that single event in ways I didn't, quite. Fingers crossed.

Bubastis. It is going to take a real sharp cookie to catch the "Veidt screws around with genetic engineering" in hour one and match it up with "Veidt has a giant alien tiger" in hour three. I also wonder how many people will then make the follow up correlation, that since he's the smartest man on Earth, and he apparently messes about with genetic engineering, it's no small feat for him to make himself the strongest man on Earth through genetic engineering, or at least strong enough to hurl Eddie Blake through a plate glass window.

Bubastis all on her lonesome, though, that's a problem. Shows up, serves no purpose, gets molecularized. In the book, Bubastis shows up and Rorschach freezes. For whatever reason, Bubastis just freaks him the hell out. We all know Rorschach has pet issues, probably this stems from that, but he literally cannot move. He is frozen by Bubastis's presence. Then, Veidt sicks Bubastis on Dr. Manhattan. The good Doctor stops to acknowledge the futility in sending a weird purple alien tiger against him, and in the moment of his musing gets molecularized along with Bubastis and we all shed a tear.

Not so in the movie. Totally and completely superfluous. Serves no purpose. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head that is. Shame, because I effing LOVE Bubastis.

Cheesy Shit is cheesy on purpose. Remember that one time when Watchmen wasn't trying to redefine a genre? Remember when that wasn't the point at all even remotely at all? Remember that one time Moore has lamented the fact that he feels almost single-handedly responsible for the overly gritty, dark, super pseudo-psychological medium that superhero comics turned into in the 80s and 90s? And remember those times he has stated flat out that parts of Watchmen are meant to be satirical?

Costume nipples, Owlship sex, Comedian's disco descent. These things are not incongruous with the tone of the film or the tone of the source material. They are part of the adaptation. Is it overall a serious work, and a serious profiling of the kinds of people who would do this, and their problems? Yes. But it has an element of self awareness. It has to, to show you how naive its characters are. The cheesy bits are part of it.

I think.

Okay, more after I've seen it AGAIN in imax AGAIN. WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


david said...

i love how the nhl trade deadline is co-sponsored by watchmen.

EruditeChick said...

Like, hockey?

david said...

no, the nabisco horse liaison.

... yes, hockey.

LoquaciousMuse said...

What she said!

What can I say, I'm not a writer. I just play one on TV.

silverboy said...

How was the sound in IMAX? It seems the trade off for getting to see it early here in Austin was that our WALL OF MOVIE won't be showing it.

silverboy said...

and oh yes, add Bubastis to the list of characters that got shrifted. i did just make that word up.

david said...

shrifted. well, one can get the short-shrift. so if bubastis is in the movie at all, then she got short-shrit-ed. if she were omitted entirely, which she isn't i'm told - then i guess we could call that shrifted. why not.

EruditeChick said...

Bubastis definitely suffers in the film because there is ZERO EXPLANATION FOR HER GIANT ALIEN TIGERNESS. The things that makes it unwarranted is that it's not like there isn't enough Fan Service in the movie- I wish someone could have been like no, Zach. It's okay.

The sound IS amazing, but what's TRULY stunning about IMAX is the bullet holes. Watching it in IMAX is the cinematic equivalent of reading the graphic novel. All those crazy details? You can SEE them. When they pull back from Dollar Bill dead in the revolving door, you can see the bullet hole in his head that doubtless ended his life. When Kennedy gets assassinated, you can SEE the bullet HIT his cheekbone and then see the individual bones of his face shatter outward while very distinct, individual lumps of grey matter go spewing back across the hood of the car. It's amazing.

Brendan M. Leonard said...

I just wanted to say that I pretty much agree with everything you have to say regarding the rape scene. I yammered about it on the post at the top of the main page, but you sum up my ambigious feelings about the way that scene is done in the movie vs. the way it's portrayed in the comic. It's definitely one of two scenes in the movie that I'm still struggling with as I think about and evaluate the movie. Which I loved.

EruditeChick said...

True facts, Breonard. True facts.