M. and I went to see Watchmen on Tuesday night and one of the things we did afterwards was to browse some of the online comment about the movie together. She read out one blog entry that basically just kept repeating the question “Why?”
Which is kind of how I feel – about this post, not the movie.
I’m not sure I have anything original or insightful to say. Still most of my reviews are well after the fact so I’m going take the opportunity to gain a bit of passing trade by comment on something current when I’ve actually seen it.
So… I think I agree with most of the reviews that one problem with Watchmen is that it’s too reverentially close to the source material. Perhaps that’s unfair because as I said in my review of the comic book
That and extraordinary visuals. Take for example the iconic cover-art image (above) and see how that’s used and developed on the very first page. This kind of thing — starting on a small detail and pulling back and back until a fuller picture (literally and thematically) is revealed — is done throughout the book. It’s no wonder people want to make this into a movie. It’s like a pre-drawn storyboard for itself.
Though actually it’s not the direct copying of the book’s visual ideas that’s the problem. It’s the adherence to the plot – which makes the film episodic – which is obviously fine for a comic book but not for a movie where we need a single consistent story.
Where I also agree with a lot of the reviews is that the ‘Hallelujah’ sex scene was cringe-makingly awkward and awful. It reminded me of the kind of soft porn I used to furtively seek out as a teenager. Superficially enticing, once you get over the “ooh naked bodies” of it, it’s extremely un-erotic due to how obviously fake it is. Two naked people rubbing themselves against each other but blatantly and deliberately not having sex is weird and embarrassing.
I did enjoy the movie – Rorshach was great, as was Dreiberg/Nite Owl – but it felt slow and ponderous in places and gratuitously violent in others. The change to the ending was not as radical as it might have been (should have been perhaps) and in my opinion slightly improved it. But then I never really liked the comic book ending.
But having agreed with a lot of people who basically said it was a disappointment let me say this: it’s not so very long ago that a big budget CGI-fest like this came with a free lobotomy. Aside from a few notable exceptions such as Dark Knight many still do. One of the trailers was for Transformers 2 and that doesn’t look like it’s got anything interesting to say about the moral ambiguity involved in wielding power. It’s nice to see a blockbuster that’s actually got some ideas in it.
6/10 – enjoyable but not as good as the book because it needed to be not the book a bit more.