Saturday, March 7, 2009

Review: Watchmen

Thought it was... ok. Definitely not a huge crowd pleaser like The Dark Knight. No real thrills or shocking payoffs. But this is coming from a guy who's read the book about 15 or 20 times, so maybe a newcomer to the story would beg to differ. But uh... just flat in a lot of areas where the book didn't translate well to the screen. What worked on the page was brought to the screen by Zach Snyder as best as anyone could've mustered, but it wasn't really brought to life in a meaningful, emotional way. The violence was fine for the few fight scenes where it was actually present, but that just made them stand out as peculiar, when 90% of the movie is about... talking. Sometimes talking with bad aged makeup.

That rape scene hit me hard. Geez. I knew it was coming, I'd read it plenty of times on the page, but the way it was filmed was just... awful, and you could feel the audience dying inside. Though that was one thing I was surprised about, the audience. I dunno if it was because I went to an 11:50 pm showing or what, but nobody at my screening laughed aloud at Dr. Manhattan's blue dong like so many other reviews have been describing. They were just... pretty much silent throughout. The biggest reaction was when Rorschach spilled the oil on the convict and yelled "I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me." Of course they would, it was a great line.

Yea, that Dr. Manhattan... I gotta say, he ended up falling short of my expectations. Not Crudup's voice, that was fine. But the entire CGI entity just... did not look right to me. Maybe it IS the uncanny valley, but I just thought he looked unreal, inhuman, and somewhat of a failure as a visual effect. Perhaps part of that was because he had no pupils. I just checked and he doesn't have any in the graphic novel either, but... perhaps in this case it would've been better to diverge from the source material.

Like I said before... Snyder did as good a job as anyone could've in bringing this book to the movie screen. And yet... I did miss all the material that was cut out. The stuff with the two Bernies, the Psychiatrist's marital problems, Hollis getting pumpkin'd... there was a feeling of loss throughout watching the film. So I dunno how any person who hasn't read the book will react to the movie.

The ending change? Yea, fine. It works logically. About as well as the original ending I suppose. Though the visceral impact of seeing six full pages of dead corpses in New York was completely missing here. Sorry dude, but showing us a giant blue CGI explosion just doesn't carry the same impact. We needed to feel those millions of dead. I did like the Rorschach pattern in the snow though, that was something new and worked pretty well.

Oh yea, one last thing... good god Zach, what were you thinking with that Hallelujah sex scene? Dude, I like porn and I like superheroes, but that scene... I could not have rolled my eyes any further. It was cringeworthy. And no, it was not as bad as the sex scene in 300, because I was perfectly fine with that sex scene. It was short, perfunctory, and did not have an incredibly odd soundtrack. In this case, less would've been more. The scene in the book was only 2 panels, that was about right. Mostly it was the song though... that Hallelujah song will never be the same to me again.

But I did really like the intro credits with Bob Dylan.

Again, thought it was ok. But no, not the greatest comic book movie ever. It's a mostly faithful retelling of the book in 2 and a half hours that, in my opinion, will completely fly over the heads of the mainstream audience. Let's say 7.8 out of 10, and I'm being generous.

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