Saturday, April 25, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen? I Do!

OK, I know it's been a while, but I figured I should give my review for this twisted artistic vision. At least I didn't retire from the writing business completely and return only when one of my fellow writers was murdered. Yeah, that was a pretty obvious joke, but I need to make sure these entries are long enough to weed out all but the most devout watchers of movies and true fans of my verbose writing style.

Let me start out by saying that I am most definitely a fan of the original Alan Moore graphic novel Watchmen. It was a complex narrative dealing with very complex, three-dimensional characters, and complex ideas. What struck me most when I read the novel was how haunted and flawed the characters were, which to me made them more believable and more like character studies than mere characters. Even though sometimes these costumed "heroes" sometimes did terrible things, I still found myself identifying with and even cheering them on both verbally and in my head. I call this the Sopranos syndrome. Tony Soprano was a complete asshole who murdered indiscriminately and frequently cheated on his wife, but I still loved the fucker.

I only mention my love and respect for the original source material because a lot of people -that large majority of the population that falls under the category of "morons"- who feel that if the movie adaptation (and I stress the word adaptation) isn't exactly frame for frame or word for word the same as the "original" graphic novel or book that it is somehow inferior or inherently flawed. Anyone who has studied literary theory and has an open mind in any sense of the word will hopefully allow for the idea that just because a text came first doesn't mean it is the be all and end all. I know all the report that aparently Alan Moore was very vocal in his disapproval of this movie, but with all due respect Mr. Moore, kindly suck my nutsack. Just because you wrote something doesn't mean that you are the ultimate authority on that text. Reader-response criticism is one example of looking at a text (be it written or visual) that puts more emphasis on the interpretation of the reader or viewer and less authority to the author.

OK, now that all that bullshit is out of the way, let's get on with the review of the movie. I'll make this quick. This movie was excellent. Zack Snyder is fast becoming one of my favourite directors, and he's getting a stranglehold on a strange little niche: that of adapting esoteric graphic novels written by prolific authors. 300 is just an all around awesome movie, and Watchmen while not as good as 300 is an excellent addition to his portfolio nonetheless. The difficulty with Watchmen, I feel anyway, was that the story was so much more complex than 300 and so long as to make it difficult to addapt effectively into a single movie ( I smell a trilogy!). Not to put down Frank Miller's excellent work in 300, as it is a deeply layered story, and complex in its themes, I think the story in Watchmen is not as accessible and the narritive is much more fractured (ie. the jumping back and forth through time).

All in all I thought the people involved in the film did an excellent job of staying true to the essence of the original graphic novel, even thought they obviously couldn't include every single thing from the original. The one thing I'm glad they included was the giant blue shlong. I wasn't sure how they were going to handle Dr. Manhattan's reconstituted genitalia, and I'm glad they didn't shy away from it. The plot is far too complex to condense down into this article, so I will give you the same bullshit that the movie is about a group of superheroes who come out of retirement to investigate the murder of one of their own. From there the plot thickens and we are left with questions about predestination, the morality of vigilanteism, and the ends justifying the means, as well as several other fascinating, mind-blowing concepts. Speaking of blowing, make sure you keep an eye out for that giant blue dick.

There are essentially three thing which kept me from giving this movie a perfect ten out of ten. The first was the acting. First we'll start with the good. Jackie Earle Haley was perfect as the vigilante Rorschach. Jeffery Dean Morgan truly channeled The Commedian (perhaps the most complex of all the costumed heroes) and Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl was excellent. Carla Gugino should have showed her tits again in this movie (incidently, one of the best scenes in Sin City) to distract from her terrible acting in the movie. I don't know why , because usually she puts in a solid performance, but she was definitely off the ball. Malin Akerman was even worse, but at least she did show her tits (and the rest of her) so she had some kind of saving grace. Billy Crudup was OK as Dr. Manhattan, though I was slightly surprised and impressed that this was the guitarist from Almost Famous. First the long hair and killer 'stache, now the glowing blue skin and enormous blue ding-dong. Now that's a transformation. Perhaps the worst of the casting/acting was Matthew Goode as Ozymandias. He did not embody the part physically, and his acting left me unaffected. But luckily Jackie, Jeffery, and Patrick's combined awesomeness offset the rest.

The second thing was the music choices. This is were you can really see the difference between a good director like Zack Snyder and a phenomenal director like Martin Scorcese. Scorcese is an expert at matching music to each scene. Snyder, not so much. I liked a few song choices like Bob Dylan's The Times They Are a Changin' for the opening montage, but basically the music seemed a poor fit most of the time.

The third thing that really got me was the ending. My feeling about things in general is if they aren't broken don't fix them. I was totally looking forward to the giant squid monster (almost as much as I was looking forward to glowing, blue cock) and I have absolutely no idea why they changed it.

One thing I really liked and I know a lot of other people hated was the slo-mo action shots. I eat that shit up with a spoon. I loved it in 300 and I loved it even more in Watchmen. Maybe one of the problems was that Zack Snyder is all about action, and the graphic novel is a much more introspective beast. It may explain, though, why the action scenes were fantastic (though it may not explain the homoerotic nature of the giant, glowing, bright, blue weiner in so many scenes). A few of my favourite were the scene in the ally, the scene where Rorschach was captured or when he fucks up his fellow inmates in the prison, and of course the prison riot scene where Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II break in to rescue Rorschach. Phenomenal stuff.

Another thing I really enjoyed about both the movie and the book was the idea that with the exception of Dr. Manhattan (and possibly Ozymandias) none of these dudes had any super powers. (Though one had a huge, glowing wang). It was really cool, though, how these people did seem to be extraordinary in their physical abilities, due in part, I suppose, to their dedication to their training. They were ordinary people doing extraordinary things, so I could imagine that with enough training even I could one day be a superhero. I also liked how some of the costumes were adapted to the big screen. I don't think anything was lost in the translation.

Alright, that's enough for now. All you need to know is that the movie was great, there was big blue shlong aplenty, tons of action, and some nudity (the good kind (ie. not men)). Overall I'm giving the movie a 9/10 = One Vigilante Head Wearing a Constantly Shifting Black and White Super Hero Mask. (P.S. There was also an enormous, shimmering, penis. Thank you democracy.)