Friday, March 6, 2009

I watched Watchmen

And, as such, have a few thoughts to share. I do not, however, have a cohesive "review" because I don't want to be lumped in with all the other dumbasses - of course, I liked the movie and many of the dumbasses didn't. On the non-dumbass side of things, Roger Ebert gave Watchmen four stars and was very articulate about it too.

This movie is perfectly cast. Jackie Earle Haley is a revelation as Rorschach; Jeffrey Dean Morgan is simply outstanding as the malevolent Comedian; and Patrick Wilson (quite a bit pudgier than when I was first introduced to him in Hard Candy), Malin Akerman and Carla Gugino fully inhabit Nite Owl II, Silk Spectre II and Silk Spectre I, respectively. A standing ovation to the folks in charge of casting this film - bra-frickin'-vo.

This movie completely earns its R rating. This is NOT Iron Man or even the Dark Knight. This is a wicked violent movie - compound fractures, amputations by circular saw, attempted rape. The characters say "fuck" a lot - I'm not sure the Comedian has a line without the f-bomb. There is an extended explicit sex scene, plus full-frontal on Dr. Manhattan - I know he's motion-capture/CGI but still, full-frontal. All in line with the source material but completely inappropriate for the 10-year old boy in the audience with me. Even before the movie started I wanted to go up to his father and smack him upside the head: this is not a movie for children.

I believe that Zack Snyder has filmed the unfilmable. He was completely faithful to the source material - so much so that for at least twenty minutes I worried about how accessible this movie would be to the folks who have not read the book. Yes, I know he deviates from the book at the end and finds an alternate to the giant squid. I get why he did that: too cartoony and the alternative he came up with allowed for a more acceptable/understandable reason for Dr. Manhattan to leave Earth. But really, Zack, if you're going to be this by the book, you should have gone with the squid.

The opening teaser and credits are extremely well-done - not just the Comedian's demise but the flashbacks giving the audience the (alternate) history to the masked heroes. Really well done.

I loved this movie. It's long (2 hours and 40 minutes) but I never got bored, although there is a LOT of talking in between the slow-motion fights and uber-violence. The music is quite well done too, all pre-Apocalyptic stuff like Dylan's All Along the Watchtower and Nena's 99 Luftballons (although the Leonard Cohen song during Dan and Laurie's sex scene was a little heavy-handed, I will say). I have no idea how audiences who are not familiar with the book will fare with it - but this is a movie about hope and despair, good and evil, and the people who are compelled to make a difference. Going into the movie, I already knew what to expect from having read the book 2.5 times. Now, I'd like to see Watchmen again, with no more surprises, but just to enjoy the spectacle.

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