Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Who's Watched the Watchmen?
That would be me. And yes, I am a bastard. (And did I mention the Comedian button swag at this preview screening?)
It's a pretty damn good movie, especially given its ambition and the source material. The few flaws stand out more than they usually would because most of the film's extremely well done. Some of the adaptation choices are positively inspired (there's more in my earlier post). It's about 160 minutes, but clips along nicely.
As to those flaws - director Zack Snyder has a helluva eye and knows how to stage a fight scene, but I don't think he's an actor's director. In a few brief scenes, the dialogue is hackneyed or on-the-nose - notably, stuff the filmmakers added. I thought two performances were excellent, while three were decent but weak at points. But these are quibbles considering Watchmen's successes. If you're a fan, you're likely to be pleasantly surprised by how much of the series makes it into the movie. You may notice some nice touches in what's showing on the TVs in the background, the music choices, and so on. As with the original series, the film should stand up well to subsequent looks. Yeah, some of the character stories are condensed, and suffer a bit from that. But fans will be struck how they can pretty much name which issue Snyder's on at several points, and I felt he really honored the spirit of the original beautifully in many ways, in many scenes. Really - this could have been a disaster, and instead it's pretty damn impressive.
Snyder does amp up the violence. For the most part, if it's in the comic, it's in the movie, but turned up to 11. I thought it was effective, but if it's not your thing, be warned.
The one person I spoke to who hadn't read the graphic novel loved it. Meanwhile, the woman next to me was trying to finish reading the trade paperback before the film started (she made it, but had to skim the last three issues). We'll see how the film plays with a wider audience. I think the timing is great, after so many super-hero films in the past decade, many of them quite good, and one of the most substantial of the lot (The Dark Knight) just last summer.
(For fans, Snyder did film scenes with the newsstand duo, and is apparently planning to release an ultimate version DVD that will incorporate that footage and the Tales of the Black Freighter animation with the theatrical release. So there may be a director's cut or extended versions in the future.)
If you'd like to read a full review, I'll recommend the one by my pal Rob Vaux. Otherwise, I'm happy to geek out with folks after they've seen it, and I'd be interested to hear from more people who never read the series and went in cold. I just wanted to reassure any nervous fanboys and fangirls out there. Catch up with ya later on this one, and enjoy!
Update 3/6/09: Melissa posted a trigger warning for rape survivors about the rape scene in Watchmen. Several people who've seen the film comment in the thread, which I hope gives a decent gauge for any potential viewers concerned about the scene.
Lauren O has a thoughtful post about women in Watchmen (the original series), and related gender and sexuality issues. She also passes on a neat comics panel to film still comparison.
Finally, Amy at Incertus has a great post on seeing the film, and takes on some of the more snotty and obtuse critics.
Update 3/7/09: Our pal skippy saw it, loved it, and posted on it.