Sunday, March 8, 2009

Watchmen Review

Oh Please give Zack more money so he can continue making this garbage!People who have enjoyed what the New York Times calls one of the best novels of the 20th century might say this of Watchmen:

It's initially a brooding murder mystery set in an impromptu late 80's super hero world, that unfolds into a political thriller with characters whose slightest gestures scream for catharsis.

Or they might say:

Watchmen invites the average comic book reader into a bleak universe that only Alan Moore has the patience and honesty to explore.

They might even say:

Whoa! That shit blew my mind dude. I don't think I understood the whole thing.

So what does Zack Snyder have to say about Watchmen? I'm under the assumption that this movie is it. If that's the case he should read it again.

For your amusement I offer 12 bullets that missed their mark in the Watchmen movie.

1) Zack Snyder tries to shatter his 300 record. In the opening scene Edward Blake throws his drinking glass at his assailant, which misses but smashes against his room number "300", as in Snyder's box-office smash adaptation of Frank Miller's limited-series/graphic novel. My guess is this is his cinematic attempt at the Babe Ruth point. Here's what it sounded like. Douche.

2) Holy awkward dialogue Doc Manhattan. I can't decide who is the worst offender of uninspired script reading. Hmmm is it Carla Gugino as the aged Sally Jupiter? Or perhaps Malin Akerman's Laurie Juspeczyk? I've got it! How about the guy whose name is mispronounced through the whole movie, y'know, Horshack, I mean, Roar Chick, err. Inkblot guy. Yeah, gotta be him. Tough to make words sound good when trying to sound like newspaper headline.

3) Why is it that the only truly interesting character is dead by the first scene? A Comedian died tonight and somebody knows why. Maybe Alan Moore is the comedian. He said this movie was unfilmable. He's detached himself from the script and the production. The man at the center of this chain of events, is gone before the dust settles. But aside from the irony, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's delivery is probably the highlight of the whole movie. It's poetic how he spits venom all over Adrian Veidt's cheesy rehashed Minutemen idea.

4) Comic books are more than just figure drawings in poses, and Watchmen is one of the slickest examples of in-between-the-panels storytelling. Okay let's stop and consider who we're catering to. Snyder passed up on Wolverine: Origins to do this flick, so maybe he wanted to focus on a comic book license with some substance beyond screaming, CG superpowers, women in latex body suits, and massive explosions. Or did he? How many of you read Watchmen for the dazzling flying kicks, giant breasts in tiny costumes, and pyrotechnical illustrations? Exactly.

There's magic all through the telling of this novel; take for instance the masterful juxtaposition of panels and texts from pages 2 through 4. The words and images are pregnant with irony and suggestion. Images from that montage are used again later during a Rorschach monologue where the faint suggestion of sound effects intensifies the way the Comedian is brutalized. But you'd have to read between the lines to get that.

5) What happened to the back-up text? Apparently there's nothing under the hood! C'mon part of the mystery was what really happened to the original Minutemen? Who was the Hooded Justice? What made the Comedian what he was? Rorschach? Sally Jupiter? Ozymandias? When you take away the clues, you take away the mystery, which takes away the suspense. What do you have? Silly looking characters doing kung fu in silly looking costumes.

Plus the pacing sucked and the song lyric references were lost.

6) Too much kungfu and porno in my Watchmen movie (hallelujah!) Malin Akerman sure did give us a show, but now I'm ashamed to share this movie with, well, anybody.

7) Mr. Blue Penis. Hmmm why did I never notice that Doc Manhattan had his wee-wee showing in the comic book? Maybe it's because it wasn't swaying everytime he walked. Just think. Somebody had to draw and animate that thing. Not to gay bash or anything, but for me personally, that's a little like wiping someone else's ass. Nasty.

8) I prefer my Carla Gugino without the preservatives. Carla Gugino is really great at portraying a particular range of characters. All of which subsist of a youthful and attractive woman, which she is. Whoever spackled her face was mighty full of themselves. Let's face it, she looked like a 30ish woman in a bad Halloween costume.

9) Marguerite Duras and the revenge of the soundtrack (There's too much confusion) Most of you won't get this reference, but there was this movie called India Song, where music would just startup in the middle of a scene. Ms. Duras, the director called it the revenge of the soundtrack. I doubt Zack Snyder has seen India Song, or even knows who Marguerite Duras is. So it's kind of just funny. Hallelujah!

10) I love the 80s! As a child of the 80's, who read comics in the 80's, and soaked up the flavor and spectacle of the 80's---the texture and historical setting of this film is just unconvincing. What happened to the commercials from the youtube contests? Who was the art director--where is the period clothing, set pieces, etc? The 50's and 60's didn't even really register to me while watching. For a film that tried to be faithful to small details, it sure didn't stay specific to the time it was set in. Looking at a movie like American Psycho or The Zodiac Killer, I get a more immediate sense of time period that eluded me with Watchmen. So that's my excuse for constantly checking my watch through the movie.

11) Chapters and countdown, the murder mystery of concentric circles. Reading Watchmen was like reading a book written in a spiraling circle. You really had to work to get it, and when you finally finished the last sentence, this larger pattern becomes obvious to you. And then better than that, you spin the circle and realize it creates a trippy illusion. There are no chapters in the movie, no breaks. None of the visual patterns emerge, like the reoccurring happy face, or the skull and cross bones. OH, and the chapter where Doc Manhattan gives us a little insight into how he understands time--FAIL. It ends up being a pretty traditional montage, instead of a masterful use of split screen and simultaneity. Man, and that was an easy one, I thought for sure he would have nailed that gimmick. Point Blank: there's no ticking clock, no circularity, no cycle of mystery, revelation, deeper mystery. So in the end, the end doesn't really matter.

12) The Architects of Fear and Easter Egg Jism. So I guess the reference to the Outer Limits Episode makes Zack a genius, huh? He's mentioned that there are a bunch of Easter Eggs like this, which no doubt will drive DVD/BluRay sales to pick up his $120 million tab. But most of you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. So here's the skinny:

Years ago somebody mentioned that the ending of the Watchmen GN mirrored an episode of The Outer Limits. This very episode is shown at the end of the film on Sally Jupiter's t.v. Without ruining it for you I'll just say the idea is pretty hokey, and was thankfully abandoned from the film version and replaced with a more elegant plot line. Wow you mean Zack and his cohorts did something right? Well, yeah he updated the original story to be socially and politically relevant. Just too bad he waited until the end of the movie to do it.

So all in all: I'm glad somebody tried to make this movie. Yeah it is childishly amusing to see drawings reenacted on a large screen. But for a story like Watchmen, mere shadow-puppetry does not suffice. I just really wish more time was invested in pacing the script and developing the mystery aspect and less time on animating glowing blue penises.

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