Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How to Watch the Watchmen - With a Very Open Mind [Review]

Now before I go into some of my thoughts on Watchmen, I wanna draw your attention to this article from Io9. It's basically about how all the bloggers love Watchmen and all the mainstream press hate it. I'd like to think my semi-review somewhat addresses this fact.

See, I acknowledge out right that I can totally see why people will hate this film, I just...choose not to hate it myself. And that's the big difference between the bloggers and the mainstream press. We WANT to love this movie. We stay in it and accept anything strange or cheesy as simply part of the universe. This doesn't make us stupid or incapable of judging something properly. It means, you know what, yeah this movie has its issues, but for me, that's not what the experience about watching Watchmen is about. It's not about ripping it apart and criticizing every little thing and looking for missteps anywhere I can find them. It's about seeing one of the greatest graphic novels in the history of time on film, adapted faithfully, with LOVE, using the right actors & capturing the right tone.

Zack Snyder didn't sell out Watchmen like I suspect DJ Caruso will do with Y: The Last Man or like I suspect most filmmakers of doing with my favorite comics. Snyder CLEARLY loves this material. The film is dripping with affection for the source material. And I think that's a big reason why the fans are reacting the way they are. What reason do we have to hate on it? Who would have done it more justice? Before Snyder had his way with the script, the movie was gonna be under two hours long, ending with Nite Owl crashing his ship into Ozymandias, killing him, and saying some snarky catch phrase. I for one am THRILLED that's not the version we got. So if you wanna be cynical and rip on Watchmen as much as you can - go ahead. It's not gonna change how I feel about the movie or how any other real fan feels about the movie. Cause it's not about love or hate. It's just about having the experience. The unsoiled, faithful experience. At least that's how I feel on the matter.

More after the jump!

So yes, despite all its obvious issues, I loved it. Duh. It's a geek's heaven. Do I see why the mainstream press is hating on it? Sure. Can I see some of my friends deciding to hate it? Of course. Especially ones named david. :)

But here's the thing. You can be in it, or you can be on top of it. And it's just more fun to be in it, experiencing it, letting yourself enjoy the damn thing. I enjoyed every minute of the 2:40 running time, ESPECIALLY the ending (and the opening credits, which I've seen 4 times now, but that's a given). I thought the changes Snyder made worked perfectly. And thank GOD - or Dr. Manhattan ;) - the film was set in 1985 and not modern day, like so many other versions almost were. The changes the translation actually needed were there and were seamless. Once change I wouldn't have made? Give Laurie her cigarettes back!

Getting into a few specifics, seeing actors step into these characters made me realize a lot of things I didn't necessarily get from the graphic novel (But I find it easier to discuss these things in a dialogue. So if you wanna discuss character & philosophy, type away in the comments section and we'll have at it!) Plus, getting to see the humanity in Dr. Manhattan and The Comedian definitely feels like some sort of wish getting fulfilled. And I absolutely LOVED Laurie & Dan's love story and how the actors/characters came alive in their scenes together. I've heard their love scene called the cheesiest in the history of film, but...considering the tone of their first attempt at being intimate, I thought the juxtaposition was perfect. I'm definitely curious to see how that scene is received by fans and non-fans alike, but I LOVE it. The music, the lighting, the dialogue, the NAKED. It made me laugh and cheer and then find myself insanely attracted to Dan Dreiberg all in the span of about 4 seconds.

And I don't care if you hate the movie or not, you can't deny that Patrick Wilson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and ESPECIALLY Jackie Earle Haley embody those characters fully and get them exactly right. Oh man, I effing love Rorschach. And I came away from this film even more head over heels for Dan than I was after reading the graphic novel. Obviously I purchased a Nite Owl figure the next day at the convention.

EruditeChick has some interesting thoughts on the rape scene that I'm sure she'll be happy to discuss as well. The movie takes it in a different direction, focusing more on the fetishism and less on the stark brutality, which sheds a slightly different light on Sally's relationship with Eddie Blake. One that I quite enjoy.

Overall, I loved the film and can't wait to see it again. If you don't like it, I'm eager to hear why and discuss with you (very eager, let's go!), but I strongly encourage you to go into the movie with an open mind and make the decision to stay with it. Then you'll hopefully have the experience I had.


Big Crumb said...

I CAN deny Morgan embodies The Comedian. I have yet to read anybody agree with me on that, so I guess I saw him differently. I feel that he, along with Ozy, got the short end of the stick for this adaptation.

On the whole, I liked the movie. However, there is a big chunk in the beginning that was near boring (even for this Watchmen lover) and some key scenes that were not executed well enough - prime example the Comedian/Manhattan Vietnam 'in cold blood' scene. That played out waaay too quickly.

The ending was fine, and I could understand why the change was made. I'm not a slave to the source.

LoquaciousMuse said...

Aw really, you didn't love him?!! I thought he was just great. I always wanted more of The Comedian in the graphic novel and I wanted more of him in the movie too.

And I definitely had problems with it, I mean, I didn't love the makeup, some stuff was cheesy, Laurie didn't have her cigarettes (don't know why that one bugs me so much, haha, but it does) etc. but not enough to make me not love it.

Which parts in particular were you bored by in the beginning? I'm curious cause I definitely had the "damn, someone expecting a superhero movie is gonna be checking their watch right now" thought.

I actually liked how quick the Nam scene was. Just boom boom, you're dead.

I don't know, I guess my whole point is that I didn't come out of it with many specific problems. It's difficult to explain. I can totally see why people won't like it, in an abstract way, I just...would rather love it :)

Big Crumb said...

No, I did not love him. He did a good job, I don't feel he was given much breathing room for nuance. And he was a bit pretty - his face should have been more wrecked.

I was bored from the space between Osterman's flashback and Rorschach's classic prison scene. And when I say bored I mean it in the way you referred to, especially sitting with my friend who knew nothing of the source. I was thinking 'man this movie must suck right now if it's new to you, because even I'm not so wild about it.'

I also forgot to mention the end of the rape scene...that was a little change I felt did the book a disservice. Instead of the picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words expression from Hooded Justice after Comedian calls him out, he just socks him a couple more times.

Part of me wants to see it again, and part of me is fine waiting for the longer cut. Speaking of which, my uninitiated friend said the same thing. Gauging by the amount of questions he asked afterwards (over a week later we still get back to discussing it), it was clear some parts didn't come across clearly enough.

If any of this seems negative I do apologize. I want this movie to succeed...but I also want it to be understood or appreciated enough for people to grab the book. I never bought into the 'Watchmen is unfilmable' stuff and I'm glad it got done.

david said...

i feel a little bit of a disconnect between your message of "go in with an open mind" and your decision - posted here in writing prior to seeing the film - to love it. would love for you to elaborate on that or clarify a bit.

but if you think that i'm DECIDING to hate the movie... or that i actively decide to feel one way or another about any movie i see rather than simply reacting to what's on screen, then you're a wee bit off base, methinks. i certainly have a titanic-sized boatload of concerns (most of which are about the need for and process by which this was adapted), but i've repeatedly stated that i'm excited in spite of my fears, and that's exactly because they're fears and not opinions, as i've yet to see the movie.

i think the only other fundamental difference in our respective approaches is that a director's love for the comic property is in no way positively correlated with the quality of the finished film, as unbending reverence for the source material can result in a stolid, lifeless movie.. the film as a faint echo rather than as it's own independent entity. it's possible to get silly little details right (like laurie's cigarettes... which i guess is a bad example as it seems they were lost in translation) and also get the essence of the original right despite deviating wildly from it.

anyhoo, i do appreciate that you accepted the movie for what it is, sat back,and had a great time (as i'm sure you will many more times). in the end, that is totally what it's alllllll about. if it makes LQ happppppyyy, it can't be that baaaaddddd. i sang that. but yes, methinks it's dangerous to DECIDE to react to respond to a film in a certain way, either before, during, or after you've seen it, and i have no intention of doing that... which is why i was reluctant to blog bout the movie at all before it came out (kinda failed there, huh?) cause if my final opinion corresponds to my pre-concerns it's gonna seem poopy. oh well.

other than that, it seems that you saying that the movie could have been 2 hours long with the owlship crashing etc... is a big ol' "it could have been worse," and ignoring the potential of the adaptation... but now i'm going in circles as we've had many a post about that before. i'm just gonna shut my big mouth (which is actually oddly small on my face... look at it some time, it's odd) until i see the movie tomorrow night! but yeah, i'm glad you liked it, cause if the watchmen people pissed off LQ then i would have to hide in fear. like i will when Y comes out. please Y PEOPLE! SPARE ME!!

david said...

"So if you wanna be cynical and rip on Watchmen as much as you can - go ahead. It's not gonna change how I feel about the movie or how any other REAL fan feels about the movie. Cause it's not about love or hate. It's just about having the experience."

okay, so that can be read as... if you don't like the movie you're not a real fan. or did you mean that real fans wont have their opinions - whatever they might be - altered by reviews?

this movie is such a neat little window into the inner psyche of mass fandom, fun fun fun!

LoquaciousMuse said...

I don't blame you for being confused by what I'm saying. Me not good at writing and me has hard time formulating my thoughts on this movie in the first place. I'm pissed I'm gonna miss the post film discussion with you!

What I'm saying is...I know the movie has problems, though I can't necessarily articulate them (I don't agree with what a lot of the bad reviews are saying) but I feel such an attachment to it, that I'd rather not critique it to death. I wanna find the positives and discover the reasons for the choices that were made, not decide that because it isn't the most...conventional of films, that it's not worthy of my love, haha. I CAN'T EXPLAIN IT AHHHHHH.

And I meant that their opinions and my opinion won't be altered by negative reviews. It's like there is a wall. And the negative reviews hit that wall.

See, like, Io9 posted their review and basically said its somehow great and totally dull at the same time. And while I can see what they mean, I didn't personally find it dull. If I did, I certainly haven't realized it, hah.

I'm seeing it again tomorrow night (at 12:31...midnight shows sold out on this coast. give 2814 my midnight ticket on the east coast. boo) and hopefully again on Sunday.


LoquaciousMuse said...

Thanks Ruth!! Glad you have you as a reader :)