Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From The Mind Of DER (Why WATCHMEN Failed At The Movies)

This is not a new concept.
A story suffering from a book to film adaptation.
It's going to happen. The deck is stacked. Real world time and resources against endless imagination where the only restriction is when words cease to fall on the page.
Most of the time we take it with a grain of salt and are willing to sacrifice a little to see some portion of a tale we loved come to life.
However, some are doomed from the start.
This is the first installment in a series of:


Once I heard they were making this graphic novel into a movie I finally decided it was about time I read it.

Knew nothing other then it being lauded for it's innovation and original storytelling. It didn't disappoint. You have essentially three arcs unraveling at different dramatic points.

Backstory - History of each character, their relationship with The Comedian, association with the Watchmen.
Present - Reunion/redemption of characters, Investigation in the murder of The Comedian and impending doom of Nuclear War
Alternate Story - One of the minor characters, a kid, reads a comic called Tales of the Black Freighter

All three arcs overlap and intersect, all the while building these characters and pushing the story to it's climax.
It really is well done and deserving of all it's praise.


First, I'm going to say there were "moments" of the movie I did really enjoy. The trailer blew me away. Even after seeing the movie I still watch the trailer now and get goosebumps.I thought the montage during the opening credits was done well. It put you into this world without having to explain a whole lot. Superheroes/vigilantes were real, first embraced by society then cast out as outlaws. Some of the costumes and visuals throughout were great.

Zach Snyder did make a cool looking movie. No doubt.

Unfortunately, story is what made Watchmen great and this kind of fizzles.
There is a certain pace in the book that is just not there in the movie. It's a slow burn.
In the movie, you kind of feel like the characters are all stumbling around with no real sense of direction.

The Backstory
While existing it doesn't seem to grip you the same way. You don't connect to any of these characters.
Reveals just kind of happen, The origins. The catalysts. We see the flaws but feel no sympathy.

"I don't know and I don't carrrrrrre" - Lloyd Christmas
The Present
While they got most of Rorschach badass-ness right, he comes across kind of flat.
He's not the kind of character that is going to talk about his feelings but he does have range.
One moment comes to mind.
When Nite Owl II comes home to find Rorscharch waiting for him.
Once partners and old friends, this is the first time they've seen each other in years.
It really should be a tense heavy scene that ends with Rorschach's bitter "You quit" line.
That should feel like a punch in the stomach but we don't care.
This may have something to do with Jackie Earle Haley's performance.
When first seeing the trailer for the movie I was psyched on his voice. I thought it was perfect. There was this determination to it. After about ten minutes of the film though it came across very one dimensional. While great for an angsty "NO" it is quite annoying with actual dialog.
"I got tagged out sliding into home, now forever I wil talk in my angry voice" - Kelly Leak
Alternate Story
Understandably, the alternate story was taken out of the original theatrical release as it would only serve to confuse the average moviegoer.
It was filmed though and put into an Ultimate DVD cut edition. (shinfo)

Movie version summary:
A good guy is the bad guy. The bad guy wasn't all bad. The blue guy is indifferent. The ugly guy is sad.
Oh and the other two bang.
Controversial Finale Change
At this point, if you're still watching It just doesn't matter.
I really don't need to see a bad CGI of this anyways.
In the end, things just kind of happen in the movie. People fall in love, people die, and people go to Mars.
There is some existential meanderings courtesy of the oirginal text that give the illusion of depth but nothing lies underneath.
What were left with is a slick well-dressed shell.

Terry Gilliam, The Douger and I all agreed that this is an unfilmable movie. There is just too much to be contained to a feature film format.
Watchmen needs to stay true to it's original path to really deliver in the end. Perhaps it would have been better served as a series? Who knows.
What I do know is after the initial delight of seeing this comic come to life it doesn't do the story justice.

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