Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Thoughts on Watchmen

Potential tiny spoiler alert! Well, if you haven't seen the Watchmen film, or read the comic, or been living under a rock for ten years.

We saw it last night at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, which is an excellent old fashioned cinema with friendly happy staff. Don't try to buy a drink there though; two quid for a tiny coke! In a paper cup! Yikes.

Firstly, let me say I liked it, I thought it was good. It was, in short, one big fangasm from beginning to end.
It was essentially as good a film that could possibly have been made from the source material. I should point out that I was entirely against it being filmed at all; it is possibly the closest thing to a perfect graphic novel ever written, and the best example of how comics work as a unique art form. There was no need for it to be a film. But. It has won me over. Every scene that you would expect or want to see in it is there, and achieved with a perfection that is almost eerie. I spent most of the film rapt with wonder at how faithful it was. I squeed, yes, I actually squeeeed in a terribly fangeek manner every time Rorschach did a "hurm". The opening montage of an alternate history of America with superheroes was one of the most extraordinary bits of cinema I've seen- the Comedian on the grassy knoll! (good use of Bob Dylan there, too). It's funny, violent, scary and bloody good fun; everything the comic was.

There has been quite a bit of criticism of the film, which now that I've actually seen it just don't ring true to me. So I shall take this opportunity to disagree with it all. Hurrah! Some of the things being said:

1) all style, no substance: Now, I'm not sure what these people want. The story is all there, as complete as it could ever be in film form. The ending has impact and meaning (I understand why they changed it, and I still have slight reservations, but the new ending serves its purpose) and the characters are spot on. Seriously, the casting on this film is some kind of miracle, particularly with Rorschach, the Comedian and to my surprise, Nite Owl. The story, the characters, and the "meaning" all work, so what do they want exactly?

2) Not gritty enough: I would say this film is pretty gritty. I mean, you see a little girl's leg chewed to bits by dogs, and Rorschach is one whole film's worth of grittiness by himself. Perhaps what they mean by that is that it should be all realistic shaky cam and dirty tights. To this I would say, firstly, did they actually read the comic? It's beautifully framed. Why would shaky cam be an obvious choice? And secondly, as a friend commented to me; when Nite Owl breaks an arm, I want to see it, preferably in slo-mo. A fumbled fight in a dark alley that you can't really see would have been a bit of a let down to be honest.

3) The dialogue is too comic-booky: Uh, it's based on a comic? Really though, at no point did I squirm with the discomfort of clunky dialogue, although this did happen all the way through Spiderman 3. And bits of the most recent Hulk movie.

4) Its too long: Of course it's long, have you seen the comic? And this is without all the pirate zombie stuff! There were moments, admittedly, where I thought my bum would seize up, but at no stage was I bored, and the story did not drag. There's just no room for drag in it. And Marty will testify that I actually managed to watch the whole thing without having to get up to go to the loo once- if I can do it with my peanut sized bladder, anyone can!

5) Casual viewers won't understand it: I don't care. Come on, if you can follow the Usual Suspects you can follow this. If you want a difficult movie, try the second Nightwatch movie.

My favourite bits:

Rorschach! Just spot on really. I now want a Rorschach action figure, the first time ever I've wanted an action figure of a fascist, woman-fearing, psychotic loon. Apart from Darth Vader maybe.

The opening montage was beautiful; really authentically done, and a clever way to plop the viewer right in the middle of the dystopian 1980's with a pretty good idea of why America was in such a mess.

Nite Owl/Dan Drieberg was lovely. Likeable, heroic, conflicted. We saw probably slightly more of his bum than was needed but that was nothing in comparison to...

...Dr Manhattan's blue penis! I am glad they had the balls *ahem* to actually show it- a less faithful adaptation would have constructed constant super-pants for him, or carefully shot it so his wang was always tastefully out of sight. I mean, it was quite odd. Especially when there were lots of him. But I appreciate the thought.

So, will I be getting the dvd? Yes. Will I be saving my pennies for keyrings with smiley faces and Nite Owl fridge magnets? Very possibly.


  1. I agree 100 percent, Jen. Couldn't have said it better myself.

    As for the DVD -- keep in mind there are two versions planned. The theatrical cut will come out this summer, and around Christmas they'll release the "Ultimate" (i.e. Director's) Cut, including deleted scenes (including Hollis Mason's death) and re-inserting the animated Black Freighter scenes where they were intended to go in the first place.

    I think I'll Netflix the Black Freighter DVD and get the Ultimate Edition DVD when it comes out.

  2. Ultimate edition. DO want.
    And like Blake, I agree with your review 100%.
    Its like you snuck into my brain to wrtite it, and just changed around some Americanisms.

  3. You've pretty much said exactly what I was planning to in my review... (apart from the vague obsession with Blue CGI Shlong ;))

    Big thumbs up from me....

  4. Thanks for the feedback guys! You are lovely. :)

    Blake; I think the Ultimate edition has to be a big yes! More fangasm for my money. :)

    And I'm not sure I meant to list Dr Manhattan's plonker as one of my "favourite bits"- it's just such a rarity to see willies on screen! ;p

    (anxious to read your review, Lee)

  5. I saw the movie with my buddy Mike. He had a truly disturbing fixation on Dr. Manhattan's "Lil' Intern." Finally, at the end of the movie, I was hissing at him, "It's an IMAX SCREEN! It's FIVE STORIES TALL! JUST LOOK SOMEWHERE ELSE!"

  6. votes: more bum, tit, fanny. less peen.