Wednesday, March 04, 2009

My Spoiler-Free Mini-Review of Watchmen

Do we need a review of Watchmen to be spoiler-free, actually?

I just got back from an advance screening, and I just wanted to share some quick thoughts.

I thought the movie was a really good, loyal adaptation of the book. For those of us who have read the book, and love the book, it was fun to see it come to life. The acting was great, I dare say that Nite Owl and Rorschach were perfect. The last time I read the book, I had a thought that there is no way that they could make Walter Kovacs (without the mask) as he looks in the book work on screen. I was wrong. He looked perfect.

The fact that it is based on one specific comic book that most fans have read numerous times makes it a weird movie-going experience. As I said, the movie was very loyal. There are no surprises if you've read it, right down to almost every line of dialogue. And, because it's based on a comic, almost every shot is also familiar. So it felt as if I had watched the movie before.

My only real problem with the movie is that it was too gory and that the major sex scene was just too...porny? It was over the top for sure. As for the gore, I think a lot of the most violent scenes would have been better without it. Off screen would have been classier and less distracting (and more like the book).

Oh...and the soundtrack is BATSHIT INSANE. But it kind of charmed me.

But overall the movie looked great, had great acting and had some neat ideas about how to tell this crazy story on screen. I don't know how people who haven't read the book will feel about it. I would imagine that to them it would seem sort of weird and rushed and lacking in a lot of areas. And it would certainly be depressing. But for those of us who have read it, it's just a nice treat to see the story come to life. That's all I expect out of these things. I think the challenge of making a Watchmen movie was met and adequately conquered. And some of the scenes were downright awesome to see on screen!

I mean, I said before I saw the movie that the problem with putting Watchmen on the big screen is that there is really nothing fun about the story. It's pretty joyless. But it is still entertaining, and I think the director made it as fun as it could possibly be without ruining it.

The movie is about three hours long, so good luck to everyone who is going to the midnight screening tomorrow night!


Kristopher and Crew said...

I'll have to hit this in a few days, pretty excited to see it.

It's been years since I've read the comics, and plan to wait until after I've seen the flick before refreshing my memory.

FM said...

Was it just me, or did Silk Spectre's head look huge when she was in costume?

Siskoid said...

I had the same déjà vu feeling with Sin City, and then with 300.

Which is making me think I don't need (or want) to see these faithful adaptations. I mean, what's the point if there's not even a new interpretation, right?

Jon McNally said...

Three hours? What happened to intermissions for movies? We still get 'em for live theater!

At this moment, I share Siskoid's "Why do I need to see this?" sentiment.

Still, when I consider that the comic storytelling conventions (nine-panel pages, colors, etc.) are the elements that sustain my ongoing interest in the series, I am mildly curious to see how these "problems" are solved on film.

rachelle said...

Kristopher - I think it's a good idea to wait until after seeing the movie to re-read the book. There will be more surprises that way.

FM - Yeah kinda. I thought Dr Manhattan's costume made his penis look huge.

Siskoid/Jon - The reason for seeing the movie is because it is neat to see the book come to life. That's really all the movie promises, and it definitely delivers.

Mary Sue said...

You'd be surprised how many people have not read Watchmen. I've been taking away people's geek cards all. week.

And most of the Academy Award winning movies of the last decade have been joyless (The Departed? Million Dollar Baby?)

I have my ticket for Saturday! YAY!

Adam said...

I caught it last night too and I think I may have been the only one in the room that liked it. 'Course that is how Spider-man 3 was too and then when I re-watched it I hated it.

I agree with pretty much everything you said. I think of the soundtrack kinda like Forest Gump's. It was a period piece. Is the music needed? No. But like you I found it charming in a way. I also wonder if the "non-reader" will be able to piece it all together coherently. I guess time will tell.

I'm gonna flip through it today and watch it again tonight.

Angela said...

Hey there!

I have been lurking around your blog for about three weeks now and I just wanted to finally come out and say hello and let you know how thoroughly I enjoy reading your reviews and commentary! Ive even gone back and re-read commentary on comics I'm reading now just for the fun of it all. LOL.

You bet I'll be around here alot more. Thanks for such a great blog! :D

Sea_of_Green said...

Sounds promising, Rachelle! Thanks for posting a review.

Now Mr. Sea and I have to scramble to find a babysitter for Mighty Mite ...

Anonymous said...

What did you think of the change to the ending? It left me flat because I didn't think it made as much sense as the original ending. It also made me realize how dated the story is and how much it was a product of its era as the cold war stalement/threat of nuclear destruction setting just doesn't seem relevant today.

It did look great, though.

You should also check out:

It is high-larious (Saturday Morning Watchmen).

Adam said...

Anonymous, I felt the ending made complete sense. How does that make less sense than in the book? I'll tell you how... it doesn't. How is the threat of Nuclear War not relevant today? We have nukes. We have crazies. We have social tension. Seems pretty damn relevant to me.

For this is not my forum - my name is the link plug to my dwelling. We'll be doing our review this weekend I am ready to discuss.

Andrew said...

I think I actually liked this ending better.

Particularly the Nite Owl parts. It added some points I thought were welcome to his character.

Andrew said...

What I really want to know is: how do the Watchmen do in your Rate The Hunks?

Sandra and Sarah said...

Hey, I caught it last night at a midnight screening. I walked in skeptical, but came out generally happy with how it turned out. I'd definitely agree that some of the scenes were a little gratuitous. My friend and I laughed our heads of during the sex scene. It just seemed so...over-the-top. Another one of our friends that came with us had never read Watchmen and still enjoyed it a lot. He didn't understand the little nuances like the reason behind Rorschach's every-changing mask, but it made no difference. I mean I feel they tried their best to make it good for those who have read it and still make it accessible to those who had not.

By the way, Rachelle, I love your blog and have been following it for a while now. Keep up the awesome work.


rachelle said...

Angela- Yay! Thanks!

Anonymous - the change to the ending didn't bother me. I understand why they did it, and it worked. And, at the risk of sounding blasphemous, I thought it was a better ending than the book (the framing Dr Manhattan instead of aliens thing). Or, if not a better ending, certainly an easier ending that works just as well.

And I saw that Saturday Morning Watchmen thing and it is hilarious.

Andrew - Ha. I think that it's safe to say that Nite Owl's superhunk rating would be pretty similar to this guy's.

Sandra and Sarah - Thanks! Stay tuned because this blog is gonna get bigger and better in about two weeks.

Kandou Erik said...

Watchmen looks like it's going to be good. But I'm afriad the theater is going to be way too crowded on opening weekend. I might go after on, like, a Monday instead.

Mintgiver said...

My husband and I have subtitled this movie;

"Have you met my penis?" and "By the way, here's Dan's ass!"

The ending worked pretty well, but I hated the change in the Rorschach vs. the kidnapper story.

rachelle said...

Mintgiver - I also hated that change. That was one of the scenes I was talking about when I said the movie was unnecessarily gory in some scenes. That one was the worst offender for sure. The original scene from the book is far less gory, but far more disturbing. I have no idea why anyone would decide to change it.

Mintgiver said...

I think they changed it to be more "in your face" and less in your mind. The less John Q Public has to think, the better.

Also, I just got back from the IMAX showing. We all got the giggles from the constant giant penises. We named it Bob.

Anonymous said...

Of the dozens of reviews I've read so far, yours is by FAR the closest to my own opinion that I've read. I can say that I agree with you (and Mintgiver for his insight on the kidnapper) on nearly every point. As a lover of the book, I have no major problem with the movie. Thanks for providing such a well-thought out and sensible review.


Anonymous said...

Kidnapper change you can thank the first Saw movie for. They didnt want to seem like they were ripping it off....

Whole thing left me with a feeling of whats the point. The GN was perfect as it was. Take for instance the mars issue or Lauries big spoiler on Mars. They both worked 100000X's better with the pannel layout than they did on film. Some people are saying how cool the 80's music was, but it's simpley there to try to make it cool. The quotes at the end of each issue are just one of many things that they did in the comic that made it perfect that they could never do in a movie.... and are way cooler and make it better on multiple readings/viewings than some crap 80's music that was semi-cool the 1st 5 seconds it played on your first viewing.

LAST but not least (and I'm sure this will piss you off to no end), the best part of the joke of a new ending was when the whole garbage re-invention was over and the audience got to listen to a new My Chemical Romance song as they left :)


Johnathan said...

I was amused by a couple of the changes - leaving out the reference to Dan having Devo hair or the Manhattan Transfer but having super duper period soundtrack. Also, everyone wasn't smoking all the time. Politically expedient, I guess, but I noticed the lack.

The only thing that really bugged me was the extra helping of emo that Nite Owl got at the end. The scene with Rorshach and Doc Manhattan in the snow is my very favourite... not sure it needed a guy hitting his knees and going "nooooooooooooooooooo..."

Garnet said...

I agree with Pete, this flick had no reason for existing. And Rachelle, I can't agree with you about the acting; Patrick Wilson did a very nice job with Dan Dreiberg (one of the easier, saner roles) but Matthew Goode was terrible as Ozymandias. People who've read the book will, I think, find him too aloof; people who haven't will find the murder-mystery angle undermined by the fact that there's one major character whose motives and demeanour seem like, well, a conventional movie villain.

Jon said...

Haven't read the book, but loved the movie. Then again, I like most comicbook movies simply because it's cool to imagine that stuff being real for a couple of hours.

That sex scene totally wishes it was a porno, but the actress was hot, so my only complaint is that it wasn't long enough ;)

Might go see it again, and will pick the book up in maybe a month, once the movie's faded a little. Finally, if I'm not mistaken, there was no reference to Moore in the credits? That's a little bit silly of him tbh.

geoff said...

I think the sex and violence being made even more over-the-top was deliberate irony. Just my $0.02.

Joanne said...

I actually didn't mind the change with the Rorschach/Kidnapper scene. But I'm biased because I've always felt that scene was a complete rip off of the end of Mad Max.

Anonymous said...

"Matthew Goode was terrible as Ozymandias"

that's actually being nice. Adrian was just about as pitiful as could be in this movie. He seemed cartoony and like the villian almost from his first scene. It played like he was jealous of Doc Man. Now anyone that read the book knows this is not the case and their last scene together in the book, but was left out of the crap movie, is one of their best character momments. Even with the bastard script an actor with better screen presence like the rumored Tom Cruise or Jude Law would have been more convincing.

O.K. time to nitpick since some supposed comic fans seem to like this craptacular movie.

-gore- not a problem, the comic was pretty gory, some people might want to read it again. The only time I had a problem with it was the mugging scene, cause the focus was on the fight and not the LOL ending where it looked like it was the most action either of them had had in about a decade ;) movie didn't get this across as well cause the audience was focused on the fight instead.

-little details for "fans". O.k. Snyder probably thought he was pleasing fans with things like Ozy's cat at the end or the newstand guy and the comic kid hugging at the end. But instead it just came off as him trying too hard to and most likely confussed normal movie go'ers.

-Before the jail scene, anything to do with Rorschach out of costume was pointless. If they are going to leave out his crazy babble about the end of the world with the news stand guy, whats the point of having a random guy with a "end of the world sign" notice the bad guy at the funeral. Then have the same guy get into it with Rorschach..... hmmm big mystery there. I remember the first time reading Watchmen and seriously laughing when his identity was revealed.

The comic was perect and should have been left alone.


Andrew said...

For anyone interested, I posted a blog centered around the process and problems of adapting the book:

Also, on Ozymandias:
Can we put a ban on the lines like "I'm not a comic book supervillian."?
Saying that means you are one. It destroyed that scene a little for me.

coffee said...

I loved Rorschach's character development, that guy rocked

spideyfan said...

I think I'll watch the film first then I'll read the comics (If I find them)

"There is no surprise if you read the comics": This sure goes against "Harry Potter" movies, I read the third book remembering all the details and the movie had a few surprises

Earofthercs said...

I didn't think manhatan's penis looked very big at all. But then again, I havent had a good look at many penises.

Also, the movie was good, but not great. Only major concern: by making Nite-Owl's fight scenes just as hyperviolent as Comedian and Rorsharchs the difference in their philosophical oppinion on superheroing really diminishes, and weakens all three characters.

But I'll probably watch it again.

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dentists amarillo said...

I think Snyder and his writers channel moments of the humanity and humor that's always present in Moore's work.

electrician sydney said...

Which is making me think I don't need (or want) to see these faithful adaptations. I mean, what's the point if there's not even a new interpretation, right?

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I think it's a good idea to wait until after seeing the movie to re-read the book.