Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Who Watched the Watchmen?

My back was finally feeling better so I made a date with a friend to go to Watchmen. We went to a 4:30 matinee yesterday and we were one of half a dozen people there (does not bode well for the film, I suppose). I'm of mixed feelings of it so I'm going to list what I liked and what I didn't like. There are lots of spoilers ahead (even if you have read the comic) so don't read on.


What I liked:
--The way they animated Rorschach's mask (must have been agonizing for the director and special effects people to decide how it should look at every moment -- the best part was when Rorschach was punched)
--The floating dust motes in Dr. Manhattan's aura
--The way Dr. Manhattan looked, even his blue genitals
--The casting for the Comedian, Rorschach, and Nite Owl were all good. I was dubious that Patrick Wilson could pull it off because he's too good-looking and in great shape. I wonder if they used special effects to make him look dumpy? Or did he just have permission to eat all the pasta he wanted? His "reunion" with Jackie Earle Haley (from Little Children) was also neat. Haley got the voice, the look, the shortness, and I liked his "hurm."
--though the pop culture references that tried to position the film in time were tireseome for the most part (esp. the montage at the beginning), the John McLaughlin, Pat Buchanan, and Eleanor Clift group were hilarious. Who knew that an actress could get a role based on this ability to mimic Clift?
--Sally Jupiter getting a punch in on the Comedian. I liked it better than the girly scratch in the book and the ensuing fight was interesting theoretically about women superheroes. It was a brutal scene and I have more to say about it below in what I didn't like.
--the eighties clothing and earrings (!)
--the way they shot the famous "bathroom" murder scene
--the owlship looked awesome
--Matt Frewer as Moloch.
--the way the film really showed Nite Owl's fetish and impotence problems
--Laurie's breakdown on Mars was moving
--the ending. I thought the ending of the film actually worked. I never really liked the giant alien squid and showing Nite Owl having a few moral qualms about it made sense (he was such a weenie in the book). After all, he's the schlub in the film without a grand ideology about humanity (Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, Rorschach, the Comedian, etc all have bleak outlooks but he's the one guy just trying to get by).
--that it was a rated R film. They didn't try to make it PG-13 even though it's going to hurt the film financially.

What I didn't like:
--The casting of Ozymandias was completely wrong. He did a horrible job or was given horrible direction. I think you are supposed to think that at the beginning he's an earnest do-gooder and then the twist is more surprising because he's the most cynical of all. In the film, his performance screams "I'm a Villain!" His line delivery was wooden and terrible.
-- the soundtrack was HORRIBLE. The mixture of different times and songs as well as using songs to push an emotion. That was lazy. If you notice the song and not the performance, you aren't doing it right.
-- the comedian as Kennedy's assassin (c'mon!)
-- Lee Iacocca getting a bullet between the eyes
--the excessive and graphic violence that was not necessary and went against characterizations: e.g., Nite Owl and Laurie killing those guys in the alley; Rorscach plunging the meat cleaver over and over again in the pedophile's head, watching the guy who had fryer oil dumped on him
-- some dramatic slow mode for pointless situations (like Nite Owl jumping out of the ship which was a prelude to talking not ass-kicking. The director did this a lot with Laurie too)
-- too much Nixon
-- I think the Comedian scene with Moloch could have been shot better
-- I wished they had done the Watchmaker scene on Mars a little closer to the original but I understand that that might have messed with the tone of the film even more
--that I still think it made no sense to those who haven't read the book

What I'm mixed about:
-- Billy Crudup's voice as Dr. Manhattan. It seemed too soft for me but I'm not sure
--I liked the opening fight scene but I wonder if it would have been better to leave it out.
-- I liked the fact that the director left references to all these other superheroes but it did bog down the film a big -- opening montage

Okay, there is more but I'll have to save that for another day. I have to sign off now.


Cranky Yankee said...

Big disagreement with the soundtrack...

I thought the music helped MAKE the scenes! The soundtrack was perfect for each part! Loved it!

Ozymandias was better than I expected...I went in with reservations about the actor, but he did okay...not great, but better than I expected.

the actress who played Silk Specter, on the other hand, needs to learn to emote better...the breakdown on Mars was underwhelming.

K. A. Laity said...

I hated the soundtrack, too. It seemed like Snyder's fall back tick was to blare the music louder whenever in doubt. I have to agree with Cranky that I didn't connect at all with Silk Spectre's breakdown and thought the actor completely unaffecting.

And most embarrassingly bad sex scene in a superhero movie?! Another place where the music made it worse -- and I love Leonard Cohen.

Jeremy said...

Wasn't the Leonard Cohen there to make it comical?

Anyway, I'd agree I didn't need to see Comedian as Kennedy's killer, but I thought the reshooting of the shooting (haha) displayed some rare nerve in a filmmaker. I'll take nerve, these days.

I know it's deeply uncritical of me, but on the occasion that I had to see Watchmen, I was just so happy to be there, I left with very few complaints. As a matter of fact, my date and I spent the whole next day saying we wanted to see it again that night. Sadly commitments got in the way.

Wendy said...

I'd like to see it again, too. It's really hard watching a film when you know the original text so intimately. It's difficult to get out of one's head on first view.

Hey Jeremy, when are you stateside?

Jeremy said...

Yep. Gotta get out of your head. :p Accept the film as a new, if completely referential, text. We can readily accept the higher value of the original, but good extensions and quality translations only enhance their sources.

Back in early August sometime. Right before I have to step back into the Bama classrooms. :p