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Review: Watchmen by Jamie

Read a review once: Man goes to movie. Movie is Batman and Robin. Makes him depressed. Makes life seem harsh and cruel. Makes him feel alone in neon world where what lies ahead is bat-nipples and ice puns. Reviewer said “Treatment is simple. Great film Watchmen is in town tonight. Go and see it. That should pick you up.” Man looks confused. Says “But, reviewer… Who watches the Watchmen?” Bad joke. Everybody boo. Throw fruit on stage. Curtains.

I went into this film ready to hate it. I went there ready to be pissed off that there was no squid, pissed off that it wasn’t exactly like the graphic novel. So did I hate it? Was I pissed off? Well, the answer is no. In fact, I really, really enjoyed it. Is it as good as the graphic novel? Of course not. You’re talking about adapting something that could be around 6 hours long and making it palatable for an average movie going audience. I mean seriously, what film is better than the book that proceeded it? Jaws? Well, yeah, OK Jaws. But still most of the time the books are always better than the films, so why is it that the Watchmen film is getting such harsh treatment from film critics and embittered fan-boys alike? As far as adaptations go, this is one of the more faithful ones I’ve ever seen. Hell, Jaws was less faithful to it’s source material and did people complain about that? No, because Jaws can do no wrong! Hmmm, seem to keep getting sidetracked here.

My point is you have to learn to separate the artistic formats. One is a film, destined for mass production and produced by a mass of people. The other is a comic, also made for mass production but there’s a smaller number of people involved in it’s creation, in this case just four, writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, colourist John Higgins and editor Len Wein, though it could be argued that when it comes down to it this is really Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons baby. Anyway back to my point, a comic book can afford to be long. It can afford to explore certain things that a movie cannot because there’s no real restriction for how long it can last and, especially in the case of the Watchmen, there’s a much smaller creative team in charge of everything. A contained creative environment like this in which only a few people have to keep track of exactly what is going on can branch out into ways that a large production like a movie, with any changes having to be run by everyone, simply can’t afford to. Sacrifices have to be made. And in this case the sacrifices which didn’t seem to hurt the film at all. Sure, some people will say “Well then, if it couldn’t have been perfect the film shouldn’t have been made at all!” And you know what, person who says that, you’re a dick. The film has been made and you’re going to let your dogged loyalty to an item which is in no way effected by this movies existence blind you to the fact that it’s an entertaining film? Well, bully for you.

Now, is this film for everyone? Probably not. For the action seeker, there are some scenes of hyper-violent brawls but for the most part it’s a murder mystery that centres around the heroes thoughts and feelings rather than their ability to kick ass. I will say this though, I felt that the fighting scenes are among the weaker things in this film. The martial arts employed do look good and certainly wouldn’t be out of place in something like the Dark Knight but in a film about superheroes who are retired, for the most part, it just doesn’t seem right, especially from Night Owl II and The Comedian. It also seemed to me that it could give the impression that these people have super strength. It’d be understandable that they could be stronger than your average person but some of the stunts they pull here are perhaps just a bit too much.

So what about the characters? Are they well represented here? Well for the most part, I thought that the actors did a pretty good job. I’ve heard some complaints about Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II but I can’t really comment without seeing the film again. I guess that means her performance just kinda breezed by me which, I suppose, says something. Someone whose performance didn’t just breeze by me, however, was that of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian. He manages the difficult task of bringing a despicable character who you just can’t quite hate to the screen. When it comes to stealing the show, however, it’s Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach who really shines. He was my favourite character in the book and I’m glad that Haley really seemed to get him down. Even his voice was pretty much how I had heard Rorschach’s voice in my head when reading it. The fact that he was the only actor who’d read it before being cast probably really helped.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in terms of main characters was Dr. Manhattan, played by Billy Crudup. Not only do you have to create a glowing, blue god in image but you also have to give the impression that the character can see the past, present and future all at once and you have to convey the impression that he’s losing his touch with humanity. Overall, I don’t think I can fault Crudup’s performance. I think he managed to give Manhattan just the right amount of detachment without severing the link fully with his human past as was required. If I had to complain about anything with Dr. Manhattan, it’d be the effects used to bring him to life. There are times when the character touches another person, such as when shaking hands, that something about it just seems a little off, a little shaky. The same can be said when Manhattan is talking. There’s just something about the movement of his lips which just took me out of the movie a little. Then there is the issue of the good Doctor’s cock. Yes, I couldn’t go the whole review without mentioning it, so let’s just get it over with. The fact that Manhattan walks around so… freely, as it were, is just another way of showing his further detachment from human societal norms. However, I did feel that it was a little over used and sometimes just a little too lovingly animated. I didn’t really have a major problem with it but once more, it’s just something that can take you out of the movie a little.

Another thing which seems to have divided people about Watchmen is the choice of music. Now, I loved it, but then again I seemed to love every damn song that’s in that movie, even ‘99 Luftballons’, so I may be just a little biased. Still whatever you feel about the music in this film, you must admit that the opening with Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ and the funeral scene with Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sounds of Silence’ are awesome.

So that’s it for now. Hope to maybe do a group review of this in the pub at some point where we’ll go over a few more of the topics raised in criticism and praise of this film in a little more detail with a lot more booze. Until then, I’ll leave you with this: This movie could have been made by Fox. Have you seen the pictures of Deadpool from that Wolverine movie? Have you? What the fuck Fox?!? What the fuck have you done to my precious Merc With a Mouth?!? I curse and renounce you Fox and everything you stand for! Fuck you Fox! Fuck You! Ahem. Sorry about that. Laterz.

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1 Comment so far
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Despite its flaws Watchmen is a stunning film that contains far more substance and intrigue than most comic book screen adaptations.

Comment by CMrok93




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