Monday, March 9, 2009

Who didn't watch the Watchmen?!?

Clearly, this is the start of a new week for me.  Last week, I intermittently sent out posts for this blog, but I wasn't consistent like I had been in past weeks.  Now that I've done the hard work last week, I can focus on more important things, like this blog.  And this week starts not with a DVD review but an actual MOVIE review.  That's right, The Spoo went out to the theatres for the first time since The Dark Knight (come on, I'm poor and I only go to see movies that should be seen on a ginormous screen).  And in this situation, a movie finally warranted that need to go to the theatre, nay, the IMAX theatre!  Only one movie could fit that bill, and it is...WATCHMEN!!!

To really bring it all back together, The Dark Knight is the reason why I was waiting on pins and needles for Watchmen.  The big preview before viewing The Dark Knight was a trailer for Watchmen, and because it highlighted the graphic novel as the most celebrated of its genre, that had to mean something!  I mean, people do not just put gradiose titles on just anything...

I think just about everyone who's anyone that's read a review knows the general plot of the movie.  It's an alternate 1985 world, where masked heroes are outlawed and Richard Nixon is still president.  The Comedian, a masked "hero", is murdered at the beginning of the story, and another masked hero, Rorshach, wants to find out who would want to get rid of masked heroes.  Because not soon after this murder, Dr. Manhattan (the only true SUPERhero of the story) exiles himself to Mars, leaving the other masked heroes to ponder what is happening.  Rorshach calls upon other exiled heroes like Nite Owl II to solve this mystery.  Deepening the plot of ridding the world of masked heroes, Ozymandias (one of the few heroes to retire and reveal his identity) has his life threatened by a potential assassin, and Rorshach is framed for the murder of an ex-villain.  Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II decide to break Rorschach out of jail and find out who's trying to rid the world of masked heroes as the world tiptoes closer to nuclear annhilation (oh yeah, the US and USSR still hate each other in the Cold War).  Ultimately, Rorschach, Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II find out who (or what) is responsible for all this, with a truly climactic finish.

So what did I think?  Because of the trailer back in July, I immediately went out and bought the novel to read it and was blown away by how the story went back and forth from the present to the past, how animation is mixed with specific readings that not only provide clues but also increase questions about what's going on.  I was totally confused in the beginning, trying to understand what it all meant, and only at the end did it all click.

Prior to the movie, I re-read the novel to jog my memory and pick up on the details in the movie.  Now the beginning of the movie is f'ing awesome.  It follows the plot pretty closely.  I was worried that it might be too slow for civilians (people unfamiliar with the novel) but my BF really liked it.  The SO had mixed feelings, but I'll get into that later.  I thought the idea of World War III was underplayed.  The novel makes it feel like everything's going to get blown up at any second, and the movie only seemed to worry about who killed the Comedian.  I missed the real "whodunit" aspect of the novel, even though it seemed like one of the most important parts of the movie.  I was glued to the novel just to know how it all played out.  There were so many characters, places, dates, and events that I had to keep straight in my mind that at the end, I had a huge "A-HA!" moment at the climax of the novel that I didn't feel it in the movie.

Even with that, it seemed like there could have been greater development of the characters.  Loved the action, although it did seem excessive in places.  Loved the music, but it was too cliched in the love scene with Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II.  The music didn't always potentiate the scene, it only reiterated the sentiment.  Although I did get a kick out of My Chemical Romance's take on Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row."  I almost think more of the songs (especially those referenced in the novel) should have been redone to tie in the past with the "present" 1985 with 2009 (but I wouldn't have wanted that to get too out of hand).  

What it comes down to is this: I am so glad Watchmen made it to the big screen.  As a recent fanboy, I wanted to see it in all its IMAX glory.  But it sometimes seemed to miss the point of what Alan Moore (writer of the graphic novel) was trying to say in the novel.  Yet, in the final scene of the movie, I felt Dan Snyder (director) got it right and all was right with the movie.  Even though it seemed like so much more could have been added (I wasn't even phased by the 2 hour 41 minutes length - it could have been twice as long and I would still have thought it wasn't long enough), the movie was great.  

I think that if you've read the novel, you might be slightly disappointed but it's such an event that it has to be seen on the big screen (I love IMAX!).  If you haven't read it, go see it, then read the novel and really appreciate what was done not only in the novel but how limited it was in the movie (even with those limitations, Snyder tried to get as much into it).  I think the SO needs to read the novel because even she felt the characters were underdeveloped, especially Silk Spectre II (I know she felt it just seemed like there was something missing that would have made it make sense to civilians).  Female characters in the novel were much stronger than the movie portrayed.  For me, I can't wait for the Director's Cut DVD with scenes from "Tales of the Black Freighter" inserted (TBF was a comic within the novel and really encapsulated the atmosphere in a nuclear-laden world - even in today's world, the paranoia surrounding the war on terror parallels the feelings around a potential nuclear world war).

Please go see it, because I hope it will make you go out and read the novel, which changed how I thought about the graphic novel genre.  So much can be said in the novel that I didn't think could be possible.  So as much as I thought there could have been more, it was wonderful.  Later!

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