By HandsomeDead 11 Comments
With everyone else giving their two pence, I thought i'd chip in and knock this blog out while I wait for Rachel Getting Married to finish downloading.
Things I liked:
- Everything in this film looked amazing and incredibly faithful to the comic book. Considering it was written a long time ago, it's amazing to see how characters like Rorschach and Comedian, two very simple designs, manage to still look as effortlessly stylish as they did back then without specifically looking like '80s throwbacks.
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan was absolutely perfect as The Comedian. Up until I saw the film, the only place where i'd seen him before was in the trailers for the abysmally shit rom-com The Accidental Husband starring him, Uma Thurman and Colin Firth and so I had my doubts if he could play a character like The Comedian at all and if he'd just been picked because he looked similar. By the time he gets thrown out of the window, all my doubts had been quelled and then some. Without trying to sound like some kind of fanboy, if Ledger can get an Oscar win, JDM deserves at least a nomination.
- Jackie Earle Haley came as another surprise. As a guy who i'd never ever heard of, I was again unsure of if he'd just been picked because he's an ugly motherfucker and so suited Rorschach that way too. Then, seeing him in the trailer where he does the famous '...and I will whisper 'no'...' line, I felt as if he'd been overdone. His snarl sounded a lot like the Batvoice everyone cringed over last year but in general, he was a perfect casting. Particularly in the scenes where he never had his face on as he didn't seem so forced then.
- Malin Ackeman looks great naked.
- Even though it was a tiny part, I was incredibly happy to see Stephen McHattie as Hollis Mason. While most will know him as one of the elders from 300 or the guy who owns the gun company in Shoot 'Em Up, I remember him most as the phsychiatrist Elaine goes out with in Seinfeld and so it's always nice to see a character actor liek that get around. Particularly knowing he's going to be featured a lot in Under The Hood
- Zack Snyder's used of slow-mo seems to have come under fire a lot and I really don't know why. He seems to use it in a similar way to how it's used in Tony Jaa's movies where it makes everything look a little bit more brutal than usual and in movies like this and 300, that works perfectly.
- While some of the cuts felt a bit out of place, I am pleased they saved Tales of the Black Freighter for the extended version. While the pacing was a bit dodgy overall, I can see Tales of The Black Frieghter potentially killing it all together.
- The new ending was great. Everything about removing the squid sounded like studio interference and while I don't know if it was or wasn't, the new idea of using Dr. Manhattan typve devices around the world seemed to fit so well that it could have easily been an idea Alan Moore thought of before turning to the alien invasion.
Things I hated:
- I've heard 'it's too faithful' a lot recently and up until the screening, I couldn't really see how that would be a problem but when watching, I can totally see where the problem lies. Watchmen isn't a whodunit, it's not about saving the world, it's a character piece which deconstructs the whole superhero genre and in the film, a lot of that is cut out. Doc Monhattan's soul searching on Mars, for example, is cut to an incredibly short amount of time and so appears to be more of a snap decision than it comes across in the book. This along with the other cuts to the more character driven scenes meant I was constantly explaining bits and pieces to my friend who had never read the graphic novel before.
- Not only did the cut in the character story scenes ruin the emotional impact of a lot of the film but it made the plot more prominent and showed it to be the generic story that it is. Were this film not Watchmen, it would be deemed a joke to have a plot as basic as this and act as if it was something better.
- Again, going back to the 'too faithful' comment, the fact it follows the book's alternating chapter progression means the film's pacing is completely fucked. At no point did it really feel like it was going anywhere and, i'll admit, that left me checking my watch at times to see how long was left. Cutting from action scenes to something more somber and back again just didn't work.
- Malin Ackerman can't act to save her life. Considering how crucial Laurie is to the story, they should have got someone who can display emotions without being completely wooden. And knowing that Hilary Swank was at one point attached to the project, it makes her casting even worse.
- Similarly, most of the people featured who weren't Watchmen were terrible. Nixon and Kissinger felt like parodies, with Nixon's nose looking like it was about to fall off at any moment. They totally ruined any kind of tension the film's political subplot was building to.
- The music was fucking terrible from start to finish. I understand that they were using songs mentioned in the book as well as a few more thrown in to keep the period feeling flowing but it was just so in your face that it felt like a parody of a soundtrack. The Times They Are A-Changing over a montage of the times changing, The Sound of Silence over the funeral scene and Hallelujah over the sex scene were so devoid of subtlety that it ruined those scenes. Particularly the montage which was done amazingly well, showing clips that are mentioned in the novel but probably couldn't have been fit in the film properly, then they stick Bob Dylan over the top and suddenly, it becomes a joke. Also, not to hate on My Chemical Romance like a lot of people, personally, I don't mind that song, but if you're going to stick to '80s music, why have a modern band at the end? It sticks out like a sore thumb.
- I read in a lot of reviews that the film was brutal, violent and all that good stuff but I couldn't help but feel like that aspect was restrained throughout. While it's fine having Nite Owl ii and Silk Spectre ii lay the smack down on a bunch of goons, I don't understand why Snyder chose not to have the start of Chapter 12 in there and show all of New York fucked. I'm assuming that's where the boohoo 9/11 brigade come in, but it didn't make Ozymandias' attack seem anywhere near as brutal as it did in the comic. Similarly, in the rape scene, I don't understand why they omitted the line where Silk Spectre gets told to cover herself up. That line showed there was no sympathy going her way and made the whole rape scene even more terrible, but instead, it completely changes the dynamic and makes The Comedian out to be the only misogynist at a time when women's rights were frowned upon. Again, I feel that was done to appease the ever powerful feminists.
- As much as I hate to say it, the film felt utterly pointless. With previous comic book adaptations, characters and stories have been taken and meshed to make something different for the screen. Besides 300, which is essentially a fleshed out storyboard for a swords and sandals action movie anyway, every other adaptations has stuck to this rule and that is often what makes them stand out on their own. However, as Watchmen was essentially copy and pasted, I felt like I was just getting a watered down version of the book. This is particularly sad to know when David Hayter's original script had the story taking place in a modern day New York and I feel those differences would have helped make the film stand out and seem more relevant as a companion piece.
Overall, I enjoyed the film and am looking forward to the full DVD with all those bits and pieces but I feel like the film was a missed opportunity and would have been better under the helm of Paul Greengrass, Darren Aronofsky or one of the other considered directors. In the end, Alan Moore was right: Watchmen is unfilmable. Not for the reasons he thought but because there's no point in telling the story again.