Who Reviews the Watchmen?

by alphamonkey on March 5, 2009 · 10 comments

in Audio Visual,Film

Scene-Stealers Eric and yours truly, as a matter of fact! Fresh off the YouTube press is our just-minutes-after the screening Watchmen review! Not only is this my debut on-camera review with Eric, but it’s also my somewhat “here’s what alphamonkey looks like” debut. Oddly enough, this review is the first time Eric has ever out talked me. Rest assured, it shan’t happen again.

Tis wholly bereft of spoilers (honest Abe), but there’s certainly no mystery as to what side of the fence I ended up on. Eric and our own beloved Cap’n Carrot will have their print reviews up in the ‘morrow, but for those of you who’d like to see my wholly unedited reaction, I will direct you here. I recommend watching it on a steady stomach.

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  • Just Plain Bob

    Super. I’m about to leave to go see this movie, and now i’m REEEEEEAL pumped, lemme tell ya.

    Whatever. as long as stuff blows up, I’ll be solid. I’ll just play it on mute in my mind and remember how awesome the story was.

  • Just Plain Bob

    God dammit.

  • MavMurdoc

    Well… Alpha. Great to finally put a face to you. For some reason I always pictured you as the really geeky kid with a polo shirt and thick glasses. *shrug*

    As far as the review, I haven’t seen the movie yet. But one thing (for me) that I’ve noticed that makes a good comic book movie, is a somewhat departure from the original content. In most graphic novels, there is just simply too much going on to cover in one movie (even if it’s a long movie).

    Of course, picking and choosing which parts to keep the same and which to just glace over is a director and screen writer’s worst nightmare I’m sure. These books have meant so much to so many people that it’s hard to please everyone and sometimes anyone.

    Judging from previous movie reviews on ‘Buddha, I’ll probably like it. Haha. No offence intended, just different strokes for different folks I guess.

  • Matthew

    I don’t know what to think. I haven’t been led astray by Transbuddha before, but Ebert gave it four stars…

    Still, I can pretty much tell by the fact that basically half of the trailer is in slow motion that I’m not going to enjoy “Slow Motion: The Movi- uhh… I mean, “Watchmen.”

  • http://www.dadsbigplan.com .alphamonkey.

    None taken, Mav. Movies are a personal thing, and I’m well aware that I’m not exactly in line with most thinking.

    But to speak to your point about source material: In my opinion that’s where Watchmen fails the hardest as a FILM. When people are walking out of the theater saying “I feel like I had to read it beforehand to understand what the hell was going on” than someone seriously failed as a filmmaker. Synder didn’t make a film that could stand on it’s own. You pretty much HAVE to read the book (or at least wait for his waaay extended dvd) to understand how events progress from point A to point Z.

    Hell, I’ve got that book memorized and I kept thinking “Wait…since they cut scene X, scene Y makes almost no sense unless you know what was supposed to be in scene X”.

    That’s just bad filmmaking in my opinion. But the real failure of Watchmen (in my not so humble opinion) can be summed up with an exchange from Fish Called Wanda:

    Otto: Apes don’t read philosophy!
    Wanda: Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it.

    Synder spent a hell of a lot of time making the film LOOK like Watchmen (except for Night Owl and Ozy, which really distracted me), but it really and truly felt like he didn’t spend enough time trying to understand what the book actually meant.

    I could pick a number of examples, but let me use one that doesn’t rely so much on a plot point: Rorschach pretty much comes out of this film looking like an (admittedly messed up) hero, when Moore wrote Kovac as the ultimate example of a superhero’s black and white worldview; an untenable force in a world that requires compromise and nuance. Is that what we get from the film? No, we get “Rorschach isn’t a pussy liberal.”

    I avoided writing a print review because frankly, I could spend 1000 words on it and not cover it completely. Will a lot of people love the film? Yes, and I’m willing to bet they enjoyed 300 as well. Not to knock on them (though I hated 300 with a passion), but accepting Synder’s fetishized love of hyper-violent slo-mo fighting is a big roadblock with Watchmen. Especially when Synder decides to show waaaaaaaaaaay more gore than Gibbons and Moore ever did. If you’re down with that, you’re already halfway to enjoying Watchmen.

  • MavMurdoc

    I think Hollywood as a whole is overusing slow mo and CGI. Ever since The Matrix you just can’t seen to get away from it. I’ve still yet to see it, but as gritty as the comic was I can think of no better director for it than David Fincher. I don’t know if they ever thought of getting him to do it.

    I enjoyed 300 and the Dawn of the Dead remake, but the Watchmen needs a director who can look past the pretty pictures and convey a story that (even in the comic) is deep and somewhat hard to understand the first time through. With the comic, if you didn’t understand something you could just flip back a page or two and figure it out. You don’t have that chance with a movie, and if you don’t get it right you’re going to be leaving people in the dark.

    That being said, I’ll probably enjoy Watchmen much the same way I enjoyed Cloverfield. I’m going into it not expecting much, so it won’t be hard to impress me.

  • BAD

    I have to agree with AM on the movie. Though I will see it again and again and even buy the special DVD box set.


    Cause it’s as close as anyone is gonna get. I could write you a two page list of directors I think would have done a better job, but frankly, why would they even attempt it? Snyder is the only guy who got the chance to do this, and I doubt anyone any time soon in Hollywood is gonna get a chance to do another one.

    So this is what I liked about the film…..

    I liked the characters. Night Owl and Ozymandias’ costume alterations didn’t bother me to much, but I did feel that the costumes in general were a bit to modern for the 80’s. I think the casting was spot on. There wasn’t a single actor I was previously familiar with (Billy Crudup being an exception, but he was blue and shiny destroying his familiarity), and that felt better to me than having an all star cast.

    I liked the feel of the film. I think Snyder actually succeeded in giving you the sense of the World in trouble and people’s frustration with it. Although you get most of that From Dan.

    I actually liked most of the violence of it. Some of it was gratuitous, but I believe that Snyder wanted to impress on you how powerful these people were. Yes, it’s a bit hard to believe someone can break someone’s arm with that much ease, but these are highly trained, seasoned martial artists. I gave it a pass.

    OK that done, this is what I was disappointed about……

    At first, I was upset that they were sticking really close to the book. It felt like they were copying the pages, but not getting the message underneath (as AM said too).

    Then they started deviating….. That upset me even more cause it was jarring. Not that it was sudden, but that it was like seeing an old friend, and they were missing an arm. Sure, that shouldn’t bother you, but it usually does.

    Many scenes I was blown away visually, but they lacked meaning, or rather, the stunning visuals seemed to suck the meaning out of the scene. It was distracting, once again, from the message underneath the images.

    Air to gold? Air to gold?!

    And lastly and most important…..

    What the fuck was up with Nixon’s nose?

    So there you go. I love the film, but I love it like I love my cousin who graduated from high school last year at 35.

    The DVD will be better…..Ooooommmmmmmmm……..

  • http://www.dadsbigplan.com .alphamonkey.

    “So there you go. I love the film, but I love it like I love my cousin who graduated from high school last year at 35. ”


    Considering how much time and space I’ve spent on the Watchmen over the last year or so here on Transbuddha, I knew there was a good chance no one would take my review as anything other than a pissed off fan of the comic, but even Eric will tell you that I tried like hell to be measured and dispassionate about reviewing Watchmen as a FILM, not just an adaptation. And I still really believe that it fails as a film. It’s not Batman & Robin bad, but in some ways it’s worse – because B&R never tried to be anything other than stupid camp.

  • MavMurdoc

    Well, I just finished watching the movie, and for once I mostly agree with you guys here. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really care for it either. For me, it just failed to capture the epic-ness of the comic to any degree. It was a decent… film I guess. But it can’t compare to the graphic novel.

    P.S. Silk Specter II was unbelievably HOTT!

  • BAD

    Yeah good choice there.

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