Friday, March 6, 2009

Watchmen Review

Andrenn’s Journal, Midnight, Thursday March 5th 2009. I’m surrounded by a crowd of people who are so excited it looks like they’ll explode at the sight of a blood stained smiley-face pin. A slushy in one hand and my ticket in the other, I am ready to watch the Watchmen.

So yeah, after an hour and a half of waiting in line we got in, actually got a great seat this time (front row when I went to see the Dark Knight) and I only missed the scene of Dan/Laurie at the restaurant to get a refill.

Now a warning, there will be MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE in this post. If you don’t want to get be spoiled, don’t read this, if you don’t mind or have seen the movie, read on.

The opening was nice, having a shot featuring the heroes from their humble start to their disastrous downfall was a nice idea and it got pretty crazy. These where all scenes that where never in the graphic novel. We heard of Dollar Bill’s Death but we never saw it, or really most of the scenes where original for the film which was a nice touch.

But right away I want to get my biggest problem with this movie out of the way and that would be the over-the-top gore. I know the film is going for a very realistic approach and with most of the effects (most of) the gore looked very realistic. But my problem is that the gore within the comic was very fair and never went out of it’s way whereas the film does. It was more shock value then anything and that really killed it for me is that it was obviously a lame “we’ve got to shock audiences” use of effects and for me that was just really stupid and a bad call. While gore doesn’t bother me, stupid gore does, and this was stupid gore.

One scene in particular bothered me and that was the sex scene aboard Archie between Nite Owl and Silk Specter. Now sex doesn’t bother me in films as it’s obviously, like gore, a real thing. But the scene in the comic was half a page, nothing excessive or unneeded whereas here we get, what, 2 or so minutes of sex? It just felt overdone and very unnecessary. Almost like a forced in sex scene to try and get some hot and heavy appeal, and it’s always sad to see a movie do that. While it didn’t ruin the whole moment of their getting together, it just felt out of place as to how long it was.

The plot evolves nicely from start to finish, though we obviously, like in the graphic novel, take a pause to tell origins and specific character moments and it does cut down on the action frustratingly. If these origins where so important, don’t stop the film, tell them beforehand, there is no reason why you couldn’t do that. Even a briefer summary of them would have been nice.

My favorite scene, or at least one of my favorites, had to be the prison break scene. From when Rorschach is put in jail (along with frying a man’s face off) to Rorschach having to go to the men’s room real quickly, it was great. Pure greatness and easily the most exciting and well done scene.

My least favorite scene had to be the attempted assassination of Veidt. While this was an exciting and epic scene in the comic, and ended up holding a big key later on, here it felt out of place and uninteresting. I’m not sure, maybe it was just me.

Snyder chose to use a lot of slow motion here and there through the film, though luckily he avoids the pitfalls of Slow Motion like so many directors fail to do. A good example is that Slow Motion can often be used to try and make an unimportant scene feel important (people getting off the helicopter during Transformers) and for that it suffers often. Here though the slow motion is always used to express a certain punch or important detail that would be missed if not for slowing it down for a few short seconds, and for that I was very glad to see the use of it properly.

The lead to (And this is the Spoiler part, turn your heads if you don’t want the major spoilers. Seriously folks. Last warning.) Veidt being the culprit, the man who killed the Comedian, set up Dr. Manhattan to be exiled and staged his own attempt of assassination. All of that build up and leading was nicely done and it was great to see it all play out very clearly. The build up to the confrontation where everyone takes on Veidt, including Dr. Manhattan was again, very nicely done but I’ve never really liked how even in the graphic novel he so easily throws our heroes around.

I will comment on the ending, the full ending at least, after I take care of the characters right now.

Dr. Manhattan was very nicely done, I liked how he was more soft spoken then one would expect. The way he acts and has been portrayed, one would think that he would have a very deep and powerful voice rather then a soft and rather timid almost sound voice. Like a confused child really, it was a great effect for the character. Speaking of effects ,they worked well with him, from his explosions of human bodies (some nasty unneeded gore when in a bar scene) and just the overall effect of Manhattan was brilliantly brought to life. My only complaint about the effects with him was his glass home on Mars looked like crap.

Rorschach was spectacular, I would have liked a more emphasis on how his mother scarred him mentally but outside of that he was brilliantly well done. The gruff voice was great, narration was top notch and overall he was probably the best done of all the heroes. Rorschach is crazy, we know that, we see him throw hot grease on a man’s face and melt it, snap fingers and arms, it was great. The film does a good job of capturing the brutality that is Rorschach.

Nite Owl was fairly well done but I must admit that he didn’t really shine when alone. Most of the characters where great by themselves but all of Nite Owl’s best moments where from his interactions with others and for that it was undeniably frustrating that his solo screen time never really went as well. Though overall he was another great character and his interactions with Silk Specter to their final moments at the end of the movie where priceless, though really his best interaction was with Rorschach. Nite Owl was still a great character and a note about the story, I was glad they cut out that Dan has been discovered as being Nite Owl and rather he continues to be himself rather then changing identities at the end, it was a good decision for me as the viewer I was glad not to have to sit through the brief chase as seen in the book.

Silk Specter was nicely done, though I feel they made her into a too much of a sex object this time. Now obviously she wasn’t much better in the graphic novel but here it just seems their trying to give off this hot appeal constantly and it was unnecessary and rather frustrating really that we had to keep going there rather then giving her character something beyond “hot chick.” Her discussions with her mother, the original Silk Specter, where great, absolutely great but it as all on her end as I didn’t like the actress portraying her mother.

The Comedian was, again, spot on brilliance. Every line from this guy was something you wanted to hear and caught your attention, at least for me it was. Now Comedian is one of those guys you hate yet love. He’s a pure sick murderous and savage bastard but at the same time, for those very disgusting qualities, you love him as he’s the most honest and wild of the bunch. It’s a shame he had to die so soon but at least he got plenty of good flashback time. Another great scene was his funeral, probably my second favorite scene.

Veidt (I admit, I cannot spell his super hero name, my apologies) was…interestingly done. I’ve never liked the character and his film portrayal brought that dislike home as he continues to be smug “I’m so awesome you are all worms” guy that just bugs me. The actor who played him didn’t do a very good job of even somewhat humanizing him or making him even feel all that realistic compared to the others. Though still, that famous line “I did it 35 minutes ago” retains it’s pure greatness.

Overall the characters of Watchmen where all very nicely done even to the not so important characters like Dr. Manhattan’s old girlfriend or Moloch. While the character work wasn’t 100% perfect, most of it was very well done with good story telling with character moments and great acting.

To mention the effects one more time, I must admit that most of the effects where top notch stuff that can be expected in 2009 and meets the standard. Though every so often with the gore it wasn’t quite that way, such as when Rorschach kills the man who killed a little girl, the effect was awful and clearly fake. It’s moments like that which make me wish we just got the cut away/silhouette effect. Some may deem it ancient effect use but it’s practical and works very well from how I’ve always seen it. We don’t always need to see everything, sometimes a cut away or just a shadow is enough and does well.

Now about the ending ,the full ending not just the confrontation. I must admit that while I miss the giant squid from the graphic novel, and have hard time understanding why we really couldn’t see it or use that as we’ve gotten crazy as it is with naked blue men, is a giant space squid really going to push the realism here? Though in the end that’s just my opinion. Switching it though with the world blaming Dr. Manhattan for a giant explosion, which unites American and Russia was nicely done. The tension rising through the film of Nuclear war was very nicely done and this was still a great way to settle those developments. While I’ll always miss the giant squid, this was undeniably a great substitute to say the last. The Rorschach death scene was very powerful and well done and the music that came with everyone leaving Veidt to his lair was great.

A quick pause in the discussion of the ending, the music in this film, while a little weird in some places, was incredibly well done.

Back to the ending. I was glad that Laurie (Silk Specter) and Dan (Nite Owl) still got their happy ending like in the graphic novel, it was about the only happy aspect really to how Watchmen ended. But I must admit that I hated how rather then Jon giving the “it never ends” line to Veidt, Laurie gives it to Dan saying that’s what Jon would say. It was…a bad move and rather annoying really. Still it didn’t kill it for me. The final moment which mimicked the comic where the New Frontiersman is trying to think of new stories was great and the final shot where the reporter (can we really call him that?) sees Rorschach journal in the mail bin was a great way to end the movie.

Overall, the story has its flaws, the gore really made the action a little too much for me and the over sexed up Silk Specter where annoying. The tension of World War 3 building was incredibly well done but not enough time was spent with the heroes actually considering it until the end really. While the flaws hurt it, no doubt, the story was undeniably very well done and very well adapted, fans of the comic may love or hate it really though. I went into this film with an open mind despite my love for the book and I enjoyed it. If you can get over some changes to the story you’ll probably dig it, if you’ve never read the book I should warn you to better pay attention to the themes, but if you do so and truly understand the overall storyline you’ll probably enjoy it as well.

My final score is…

8 out of 10

Must Watch


Paul Barry said...

I have not yet read the actual graphic novel, so I am not able to compare this movie with the original. Considering the storyline I feel it as a superb flop. The characters neither had strong roles to play. I thought that the action scenes would be similar to movie 300, but it was not even 25% near to that! And over that I wasted my $20 towards the tickets.

Andrenn said...

20 dollars? Wow. Their really that expensive for you? Well I am sorry to hear you didn't like the film, though I respect your dissapointment with it.