Friday, June 12, 2009

Watchmen (the Film)


I mentioned the Watchmen movie in my last post, so I feel like reviewing it now.

I started reading the Watchmen graphic novel about a year before I'd even heard that the movie was being made. I didn't understand it entirely at first, but after reading it a second time and even studying it the third time reading the book, it made complete sense, and I consider it to be among my favorite books ever.

When it comes to the movie, it keeps most of the plot the same (except for the ending), but it doesn't match up in terms of cleverness in visual style or references used. Granted, it does have some, like the reference to The Outer Limits episode ("The Architects of Fear") that's similar to the story of Watchmen in which you see the intro to The Outer Limits late in the movie. It does, however, leave out major things, like delving deeper into each character's moralities.

That's a minor problem, though. The movie is still enjoyable even without all of those obscure references. There are major problems that do detract from the enjoyment, particularly if you're a big fan of the graphic novel.

For starters, most of the supporting characters are either missing or seen for a short period of time, and have no real substance in the film other than to be cameo appearances. I can see why they were taken out for the most part, but they helped make the graphic novel better, as the characters gave more perspectives and interesting backgrounds to the story, thus making the story an even more deep experience. Just for this factor alone, the graphic novel is far superior, because getting rid of the supporting characters removed a pretty big chunk of the story. This goes for Tales of the Black Freighter (a sub comic) as well, but getting rid of that makes more sense because it isn't nearly as important as the supporting characters. One other important thing that was left out was the short portions in the backs of each chapter that gave more (sometimes quite important) background information. That one made sense as well, as long as they put that info into the movie. I can't remember if they did, but either way, it's more evidence showing that the book is much better than the movie.

Speaking of missing things, I mentioned the plot is mostly the same, but there's one major change: the ending (spoiler ahead!). The graphic novel's ending actually is the same, but the way the movie leads to the end is different. Towards the end of the graphic novel, Ozymandias teleports a fake alien created by a creative group. Once it arrives in New York City, it explodes, killing millions of people. In the movie, Ozymandias uses some thingamajigger created by Dr. Manhattan, and energy signatures from the blasts made revealed they were made by Dr. Manhattan. I could go on a rant about that one, but I'll just link someone else's post explain that for me (credit goes to Mark 2000):

http://mark2000.com/?p=515

But there's more that I don't like about the ending. First off, Nite Owl watches Rorschach die. Then he throws a temper tantrum by beating up Ozymandias and giving a short lecture about what Ozymandias had done (instead of Dr. Manhattan saying "Nothing ever ends"). He does this instead of uniting with Laurie somewhere else in the palace. In the comic, no one except for Dr. Manhattan seemed to realize that Rorschach was dead, at least not at the time. It's kind of hard to explain, but it's extremely awkward.

Like I said, Dr. Manhattan doesn't say the line, "Nothing ever ends" like he does in the graphic novel. Instead, you have Silk Spectre saying that she thinks that's what he would say, and she tells that to Nite Owl. The problem with that is Ozymandias doesn't hear that being said like in the comics. Judging by the look on his face in the graphic novel, the phrase seemed to make him think twice about what he had done. It just makes more sense to say it directly to Ozymandias, and would probably be more convincing than Nite Owl's lecture. If not, it at least has a more powerful and lasting impact on the reader/viewer.

Lastly . . . honestly, what's the point of Silk Spectre kissing Dr. Manhattan before he leaves? She was already with Nite Owl and over with Dr. Manhattan.

Oh, and before I forget, the music's either pretty bad, terribly misplaced, or both. 'Nuff said on that.

Now with all of this stuff that I complained about, I still actually liked the movie overall the movie. Most of the acting in this movie was pretty good, especially that of my favorite character, Rorschach. He's not my favorite because I agree with his morals (I actually don't). I like him because he's the most interesting by far. That and the guy playing him, Jackie Earle Haley, did the best acting job in the whole movie. It does suck that the chapter dedicated to him (Chapter 6) was downsized a bit to fit in a prison fight scene that wasn't even in the comics, but overall, it was satisfying seeing him on screen, especially listening to him give the line (while in prison), "I'm not in here with you. You're in here with me."

Dr. Manhattan was also pretty good, incorporating an indifferent accent throughout the whole movie, just like I imagined. I always imaged his voice would be heavier than it was, though. It seems that a lot of people that have seen the movie, particularly males, complain about seeing his penis in the movie. I don't like penises, either, but they were shown in the comic, and they were there strictly for art purposes. Besides, it would be awkward not seeing a penis there. But guys shouldn't complain; they did get to see the Silk Spectre's breasts.

Speaking of which, that sex scene was not in the comics, so it was really awkward to see that taking place. Great job getting cash value wherever and whenever you can get it, filmmakers.

Everyone else did great, except for the Silk Spectre. Sometimes she was actually okay, but for the most part, I couldn't get into her character. I guess, considering the sex scene, all the credentials that she had to have were a sexy bod. I guess you could complain about the Nite Owl not having to be sexy (I wouldn't consider him to be either way), but he wasn't in the graphic novel, either. Then again, you could make that same complaint for the graphic novel.

So would I recommend this movie? I'd recommend a rental to anyone, but I'd strongly suggest just reading the graphic novel instead (more than once if you're confused), even if you're not a big comic book fan or into reading much. Trust me, you'll get a lot more out of it. There's a reason why a lot of people have said that it'd be nearly impossible to adapt it from a graphic novel into a movie. The filmmakers did a great job doing so, but it still could've been more improved. The director's cut is coming out a little later this year, so maybe it'll be better. We'll have to wait and see. Either way, it's a good movie.

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