Friday, March 13, 2009

Movie Review: Watchmen

First two words that came to mind: Fucking fantastic.

I'm going to qualify that, however. This is the opinion of someone who read the book and loved it. The movie is designed to appeal to exactly that target audience...perfectly representing the characters, scenes, mood, and dialogue of the book. And even though it's long (160 minutes) there's much that is left underdeveloped on the screen. From talking to others and reading reviews, my guess is that if you haven't read the book, the movie seems both long and overly complex.

For me, though, it was perfect. My favorite characters - predictably Rorschach and the Comedian - are exactly as represented and more real at the same time. Nite Owl's awkwardness is both more believable and amusing when portrayed on the screen. Dr. Manhattan, despite the omnipresent blue sausage dangling between his legs, captures the contradiction between emotional detachment and near-feminine fragility more accurately than I could have predicted.

I can certainly pick it apart - and I will, for completeness - but overall none of the flaws detracted from what I loved about the book. I didn't like how Adrian Veidt was cast - way too skinny to believably possess the physical prowess he's famous for. The first 30 minutes or so seemed to be more a collection of music videos than a coherent story, and I could have done without the Forrest Gump-like presidential hand-shaking and elbow-rubbing with famous people like the Village People, Lee Iococca, Henry Kissinger, etc. (I hated Forrest Gump.) Some of this comes from the book itself, but even more of it was added as a device to help the viewer keep track of the temporal shifts in the decades-long backstory. And the Silk Spectre was meh...she's supposed to be super-hot in a super-hot outfit, but really she's just sorta attractive in a weird costume. Although the soft-porn scene where she's banging Nite Owl with nothing but those thigh-high boots...nice.

The ending was slightly modified to remove the giant squid and psychic shockwave. This might be annoying to Watchmen purists, but I'm thrilled with the choice. Not that the new ending makes a lot more sense, but it's less intellectually insulting.

I can't wait to watch it again. It'll be perfect on DVD, when I can jump to the scenes with Rorschach and the Comedian, and skip every CGI rendering of azure penis.


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