Rorschach Test Fail

Watchmen (the Movie) Misses the Point of Watchmen (the Book)

Comments

1
The Dark Knight was "great"? In what way? The movie itself, you're saying, was "great." Really. It looked, sounded, and felt like a plotless, pea-brained, overloud, overlong mess-- and that was "great"? Hmmm. What a strange thing to say.
2
"although she's a beautiful sculpture, and her nude scenes are awe- inspiring"

Ha! homo describing a naked woman
3
I haven't even seen the actual movie but this sums up all I was feeling was wrong about this adaptation. Removing the squid and reworking the ending into another piece of Hollywood garbage is a major mistake. Nice job at conveying those thoughts without too many spoilers.
4
I completely disagree Paul. I have not read the comic, so as a regular viewer I felt that the movie ran at a pretty deep level throughout. The audience seemed to be completely enthralled for the whole movie, and the dialogue (some which was directly quoted from the comic, I was told) was great. I really liked the acting of the older Specter and from the few scenes with the Comedian.

I also thought there was lots of complexity and since I had not read the comic, I fully did not expect the ending.

Full disclosure: I appreciated the extra amounts of wang. Maybe that was the tipping point to make it a great movie for me? ;p
5
This review isn't going to change the fact that I am going to see the movie and more then likely love it. When one doesn't fit with the other can't you just take them seperately?
6
Hey Paul, that was a pretty damned good review. Read the comic when it first came out years ago and have been dreading the film adaptation ever since.
7
A film review that spends most of it's length comparing the film to the book on which it is based does not do proper service to the film.
8
Paul, your film review fails because you fault it for being a movie and not a comic. This is the trick of reviewing an adaptation, and I was hoping for a review of the movie. *sigh*
9
How predictable. I was just saying the other day how I couldn't wait for The Stranger's inevitable negative review of Watchmen. There is a much more thoughtful review on CHUD.com by Devin Faraci.
10
I've read the actual comic too often, but thought the revised ending worked better because it required less exposition.

I liked the movie, but did think it was unnecessarily violent. Rorschach actually comes off as the most reasonably violent one in the bunch.
11
@ Soupytwist: Here is a review of the movie: It is bad, and it doesn't make sense without reading the book.

@ Rat King: "Thoughtful" isn't a synonym for "long." Also, it takes a while for that review of the "epic," in which he compares it to The Godfather, to actually load because there's a full-screen Watchmen ad that has to be clicked through, first.
12
Paul, people disagree with both your points. Original Monique didnt read the book and thought it ran "deep". Why are you even arguing in your own post? Let the people talk, most of us have enough we can take of you in the published paper.

What does the ad have to do with Faraci's review? Is it jealously I'm reading here?

Here, just so you will respond to this post I will tell you I annoy my friends by interchanging the word "hater" and "Paul Constant".

"Stop being such a Paul Constant, just sit down and enjoy something and stop spouting nonesens in an attempt to sound smart."
13
As someone that's read the comic dozens of times end to end since it came out in the 1980s, and has incidentally read random pages and chapters more times than I'm willing to admit, any attempt to say the film has failed in any way due to the source material is foolish.

As a stand-alone film, it works perfectly. As there is zero possibility of a franchise--the story by it's explicit nature prohibits a sequel--it works perfectly fine as a stand-alone work of art. I saw it Monday night at a preview screening; I dissected as I went for about the first two hours. After that, I just gave up and enjoyed the deep ride, like everyone else, as my biggest nitpick was literally the makeup on someone's hands. The crowd was totally enthralled during my showing, and raving after. Everyone I've spoken to that's seen it--especially folks who haven't read the book--already adore the film.

I actually saw an interesting dissection of reviews on a blog today. Nearly ALL the negative reviews listed on RottenTomatoes.com of Watchmen come from old print media dinosaurs, and publications that began life as print media. Any New Media reviews have been universally positive; when the RT aggregrated ratings were rescored to exclude Old Media (both good and bad reviews), the Freshness rating soared from 75%~ to 99%~. Funny old world, isn't it? The point of Watchmen The Film is not to dissect shit. The point of Watchmen The Film is to be a good film, which it hit out of the ballpark a couple of times over. Grand Salami, as they say.

It's a great film. It's no Lawrence of Arabia, but it's head and shoulders better than The Dark Knight or any recent Superhero Film.
14
Oh, and

"This is because there are two remarkable aspects to Watchmen, and the plot isn't one of them."

Did you even read the comic? The 'Big Plot of Doom' as detailed in Watchmen The Comic and also in Watchmen The Film is one of the best plotlines in a fixed-length sequential art story I've ever read, and handled in the film in a totally fresh way that had people saying, "Holy shit, that was clever as hell," when I spoke with them afterwards.

One person even compared the "Gotcha!" of it to the Sixth Sense, very positively.
15
Lindy when are you going to stop sending Paul out on assignment to review films when clearly he isn't deserving of the title film critic.

Soupytwist is correct in pointing out that Paul's failure is in his inability to review films as just that films. Oh I forgot Lindy, maybe its because you're undeserving of the title film editor since you don't to understand film in the first place.

16
I'm not reading the review because I don't need to. Of course The Stranger probably hates it. A movie version of a great novel, which the Watchmen was, can never live up to the expectations of someone whose read the book.

My favorite book of all time is Joseph Heller's Catch 22. Mike Nichol's film version is not as good as the book. But as a movie itself, it's pretty good and very watchable (and one of my favorite films).

At the very least I expect Watchmen to be a couple of hours of eye candy that will distract me from currently shitty life.
17
Paul, (without seeing the movie yet) I have to ask how you can say that it is bad because it doesn't make sense without reading the book? What?

I'm glad it's been years since I read the comic - I really hope the movie reminds me of the things I liked about the comic, and based on Wil Wheaton's review, I think it will.
18
@Monique,

When a book is made into a movie, there is a difference between being slavishly true to the source material, and being true to its message.

I've been told there is a 1930's film version of Moby Dick that has Ahab kill the whale and return home to the love of his life waiting at home for him. It sort of makes you wonder why they even bothered. (I'm sorry I don't have a more current example. I know I've seen movies that have been so radically changed. In my mind I have this caricature image of a producer saying "Hey, this whale killed everybody ending didn't test well. Do you know what it needs...") On the other hand, a movie like Simon Birch is pretty true to "A Prayer for Owen Meany" while redoing nearly every plot element.

The original comic book of The Watchmen poked a lot of holes at the traditional assumptions of the genre. (All of the heroes became or remained so for the wrong reasons. The populace didn't want them. The one with actual superpowers upsets the geopolitical balance so severely that it puts the world in danger. Final disaster is only diverted because the villain succeeds with his plot.) Its first makes every comic book nerds dream come true, and then shows them the horror of the result.

Unfortunately, there is no way a movie version of The Watchman that was true to the source material could be made today. What would the world make of a movie where a Violent Non-State Actor kills thousands in New York City in order to reduce geopolitical tensions and make everyone realize that they should treat each other with humanity.
19
@2 I guess you're in the paul-is-a-self-described-heterosexual camp then.
20
Well Paul you are correct. Thoughtful is not a synonym for long. Nice to know your five-figure education didn't go to waste. Faraci's review is more thoughtful because he actually uses knowledge of film as an artistic medium to explain why the adaptation succeeds on its own merit. Incidentally the review loads perfectly and without issue for me. Perhaps I might suggest getting yourself a better computing machine. Nice dodging non-defense of your review though.
21
Does the smart superhero come across as really smart? Or frowney and pausey?
22
@ Rat King:

Really? You thought that blowjob over at CHUD where they compare the Watchmen movie to the fucking Godfather was a more "thoughtful" review? You have gotta be fucking kidding me...
23
If anything I think the original review overstates the influence of Watchmen the comic book. The Dark Knight Returns had a far larger impact.
24
Don't send the book reviewer to a movie. Of course he's going to hold the source material up on a higher pedestal than just treating the film on its own merit.
25
I'll be seeing the movie tomorrow and will likely come back here to comment on your review, but giving it a cursory run through it does seem like you're putting the comic on a bit of a pedestal here, one that the film doesn't have the legs to reach. Watchman was a comic read by comic fans and it came out in a period of time in which creativity in graphic novels wasn't particularly high. Since then there have been a lot of series and individual works that come close to Watchmen in terms of entertainment value and sophistication, though touching the comic in terms of overall craftsmanship might be difficult, for sure, it's one of the best graphic stories ever written.

The thing is, just like with ANY film adaption, the movie can't possibly layer on the everything that made the comic great. The references to other comics of the day are likely to go over film watchers heads, even if they're intact. Many of my friends have expressed that the comic required several reads to fully appreciate, (though I think I did a good job of appreciating it in a single run through, even skipping a lot of the news clipping and background text interspersed through the comic).
26
this whole arguement reminds me of how whenever I wish for a Sandman film adaptation (I suppose it'd have to be a series), I immediately shun the idea. first, there is no way it would ever come close to the comics. second, it would be ruined by nerds complaining that it doesn't come close to the comics. of course it won't, nothing will. you can't transfer mediums with a 100% success rate. maybe transcend, but that is so rare it's not worth speculating about.
27
As easy as it is to say that film adaptations of literature should be judged on their own merit, that is a nearly impossible thing to ask of anyone who has read the source material of any adaptation, and it is an especially asinine thing to ask of anyone who enjoyed it. Unless the adaptation endeavors to take the source material and change it completely, comparisons are inevitable, and simply by making the film Snyder was inviting them. By saying that he planned to be faithful to the spirit of the comic, he was almost daring fans of Watchmen to find faults with his version.

Also, fuck the haters, Constant. Your columns are the only ones I actively enjoy while perusing this site every Wednesday.
28
@Arsenic7 Paul has not placed the graphic novel (12 issue comic book) on a pedestal. There isn't a pedestal capable of ascending to the heavens. Paul has teleported himself to Mars, with the novel, to have a pity party.

@Paul Constant, I just saw a screening and you are wrong.

"Rorschach Test Fail"is such a ludicrous headline you might as well have stopped there.

You judged this movie before you saw it and you can't even bring yourself to admit it plainly. This movie fails because it is too true to the source? You then go on to complain about the things that are missing and the things that have changed. Was it a slavish reproduction or wasn't it? Your schizophrenic review can't deliver a verdict on that one, other than proclaiming it a failure because it's a movie version of Watchmen. Hrm, perhaps the headline should have been "Paul Constant's Exercise in Circular Logic."

There are three distinct views people take after seeing this movie. The ones who thought it should never have been made (that would be you and several of the people licking you affectionately in the comments section) are jumping up and down screaming about how bad it is. io9 has a string of comenters hoping the movie fails.

Another group is in love with it, even with it's faults (I fall in to this category). A third group just hates it because this isn't a film about characters in the English countryside (see The New Yorker).

I do agree that the characters could have used more room to breath with a longer running time and more time spent in the "present" of the film. That is not a condemnation of The Watchmen as a film, but it is a valid criticism.

The revised ending is sturdier than the novel/comic ending. It ties in neatly and doesn't "slavishly" adhere to the novel. Where does it fall it apart? Does it fall apart because scientists could determine the origin of the attack? No. That thing in the novel would not stand up to that level of scrutiny. Does it fall apart because only one location was targeted, only one faction affected? No. Honestly Paul, just cry about your cephalopod and get it over with.
29
@Rat King, and here I was thinking it was a *positive* review.

As a fan of the graphic novel and someone who had to stop watching 300 after 15 minutes (because it was so shitty), I was not expecting very much from Zach Snyder and Watchmen, but this review makes me actually want to see it.
30
@jsteel2005 OH NOZ! Fanboy alert!

Your criticism of the Constant's review isn't valid. He says that it's too close to the comic in a superficial way. It does the motions of the comic without actually getting to the point of the comic.

Your comment reads like you decided what you wanted to think about it before you saw the movie. You could even say "you judged this movie before you saw it and you can't even bring yourself to admit it plainly."

I didn't mean to comment again without having seen the movie, but your comment was too ripe, I had to pick it off of the tree.
31
Oh please, Rat King...Faraci and the other jokers at CHUD have been licking Snyder's ass for years. That "review" that you linked to is nothing but a marketing attempt bought and paid for by the film industry. At least Paul brought actual critical thought to his review. All Faraci's commercial does is hype the film as the best thing ever with no actual critical discussion. Go fuck yourself.
32
I have yet to read a positive review of a movie on this site.......wonder why?
33
What was so wrong with 300? I think it was a great movie, wasnt expecting it to play out like that old ass poem
34
I must comment on the music piece, and note that I've yet to see the film. Moore did inject lyrics from songs into the comic itself, so I can see how Synder (or producers, etc.) would easily latch onto the idea. Its one thing to read the lyrics, and another to actually hear the songs - sometimes things get lost in translation (so to speak).
35
This definitely seems to be shaping up as a love-it-or-hate-it type film. I'm not surprised it received a negative review in The Stranger, though.

36
Rule of thumb: if you compare a movie to the book it was created from you will always be disapointed. Books and movies are completely different media and they need to be reviewed as such. Does the movie work as a movie (regardless of how faithfull it is to the book)?
37
Homoerotic. Emphasis on the HOMO part.
38
That still convinces me the film is going to look like a bonus episode of the short lived "Tick" live action TV show. I'll go see the film if somebody in it says "Rorschach, you can't fight evil with a macaroni duck!"
39
@Andrew: Oh I completely understand those points of the comic for 2 reasons:

1) Before the movie came out, my BF explained the premise of the comic

2) During the movie, it was fairly obvious. The law in effect to stop superheros, the montage at the begining where they are killed or put away in aslyums, etc. It wasn't hard to figure out that people were rejecting them and not wanting them, then one of their own does the unthinkable.

At the end with Rorschach talking about compromise, etc. I mean it explains it as well as possible with only 3 hours to do so.

And I loved it. Totally heads above all other movies in the genre.
40
Screw you, Constant. The Man says see it twice.....

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs…

Ebert Rules!
41
@another Andy. Go watch the movie and leave the discussion to those that have actually seen it.

The praising/bashing of Constant's review is not something people should jump in to without having formed their own opinions. That's the funny thing about reviewing a review (this comments section).

I did not judge this movie before I saw it. I was excited to see this movie, and I was worried it would disappoint me. Paul said it would fail, saw it, and then reported on what a failure it was.
42
I can't take a word of this review seriously based on the first sentence alone; "X2: X-Men United" was a great comic book movie??? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!?!?!
43
Heh, heh . . .

Well, Paul, I'm guessing that I'm gonna agree with your individual points, but ultimately find for the film despite those issues. It's just a guess, of course, because I haven't seen the picture yet. Just a hunch. I'm really looking forward to seeing Haley tackle Rorschach (I think that bit of casting is just plain inspired), and I could see Morgan giving us an interesting take on the Comedian.

That said, I think the piling on here was inevitable, and probably no comment on the quality of your review, which I thought was fine even if I'm (somewhat prematurely) disagreeing with its conclusions.
44
I love the comic, too, and was simultaneously exhilarated and dismayed they were making a movie out of Watchmen. A good adaptation doesn't take anything away from a great comic book, just brings legions of new fans. I, for one, thought Sin City was fairly accurate and beautiful. But 300 was laughable so when I saw that that god-awful director was doing Watchmen I knew it was going to suck. And what's worse, people attracted to the glamorous violence and simplified story probably won't get the comic. I wish it had never been made.

That said, I haven't seen it so feel free to disregard me as a bitter fan if you're so inclined. Just do yourself a favor and read the comic first.
45
Dude, that CHUD review is half fanboy jizz, half missing the point of the book. I mean, comparing the quality of the Watchmen film to Godfather? SRSLY? And the clichés about Rorschach's vulnerability inside? C'mon, that's missing the whole point of both Manhattan and Rorschach, their fundamental alienation.

Also, of course the movie would be compared to the book, and of course it would come up wanting—the book is a formalist exercise in comics as comics. It's like trying to make a movie out of Ulysses.
46
An review that does not acknowledge that the glaring flaw with the movie was that it did not have Stephen Lynch's "Superhero" either played over the closing creidts or worked into a bonus scene for those who stayed, has pretty much already failed.

The only reasonable point of discussion is if the album version is perfect for the movie or if a special Watchmen version should have been commisioned.
47
Why did the first poster ask "Really?", after already asking a question. Its annoying enough in person there, Mr. NW.
48
So I saw the movie last night and I have to say that I believe Paul's review is the quintessential novel/comic fanboy complaint. I do use the word fanboy lightly, though. I can completely understand his reason for disliking the film and I don't believe it would be possible to create a film that addressed all his needs.

Movies based on novels and comics always run across the issues of faithfulness to source material vs creative license. Many of the comic book movies of recent don't run across issues of faithfulness because they are based on original stories and characters who span across multiple comic universes time streams and parallel earths. Watchmen is more like a novel adaption in this regard. It's based on characters that are found in a single story and a single world and it purports to be a film VERSION of that singular comic. Though Watchmen closely followed the plot of the original comic, it should be viewed more of as an interpretation than a direct adaption, in my opinion. I believe it succeeds along those lines.
49
Everything I feared has been reiterated here. Whether or not this is a good film review, I feel that this article was worth my time.

I'll still see it, but now more ambivalent than ever. Oh man, do I not want to be in a room full of people cheering on Rorschach.

On the other hand, if this film brings up decent discussion of a good book, then we'll call it a draw. If Sin City were a deeper book then I would have forgiven the film a lot more. In the end, the only discussion I got was "I liked it because I like film noir." Which was followed by a film noir list the read "I haven't actually seen any film noir."

More later.
50
Paul,

Yes, great summation of why the film seemed to lack despite looking extremely religious.

Thought Dr. Manhattan & Rorschach were beautifully played, but the fighting scenes all felt a bit cliched and unnecessarily splattertastic.

And that "love-scene" with the HALLELUJAH song????? Christ I felt awkward/embarrassed watching that. And I'm straight and have friends.

I can't say I'll be going back to the theatre to see this one again.
51
i saw it today at cinerama and was pleasantly surprised. my expectations were that it was going to be pretty awful. as it turns out, i liked it more than i anticipated. sure, it's flawed in some big ways, but i'm more impressed by "watchmen" than i was by "the dark knight returns," and in many ways, i see both of those movies as occupying very very similar territory thematically and aesthetically. "watchmen" was the more interesting of the two.
52
Paul,

After seeing the movie, I mostly agree with your take on it. Though I appreciated seeing some of the action scenes beefed up to movie-tasticness (prison riot, the glass structure shattering on Mars), the slow motion and gratuitous blood were a bit much.

Manhattan's blue wang should get an award of its own.

Could you explain why the ending fell apart for you?
53
Word for word exactly what I thought. I didn't like it for exactly those reasons. I mean it was like, sure I could watch this or I could just read the book, which is better.
54
@Casey: If you can read Watchmen in 163 minutes you should contact the people at Guinness. This isn't an either/or situation. The book and the film are not mutually exclusive.
55
Hey kids,

Too many questions for me to address directly (I do have to say, though, that my education is a year and a half as a part-time student at University of Southern Maine, so I had to laugh at the "five-figure education" comment; my education barely scraped four figures, if that. ((And now all the "how could you let a state college dropout review a movie" comments will begin.)) I do want you all to know that I appreciate how someone could love this movie.

Hell, I'd probably see this one again just because it was so fucking pretty, and it's clearly the best Alan Moore movie adaptation as of yet (which is damning with very faint praise.) And I will watch the (hopefully four-hour) Director's Cut when it's released, for sure.

But I stand by my review one hundred percent. I hope people will work out their feelings for this movie in this thread, because it's surely more than just a straight "Loved it/hated it" proposition. It's a monster of a movie. These sorts of threads work really well for that kind of communication, and this is a movie to communicate about.
56
Oh, and P.S.: I love Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake so much it hurts, and anyone who says The Stranger never publishes positive reviews should read my review of Coraline, which was an adaptation of a book and which I loved, both as an adaptation and on its own merits.
57
Paul,

That is fucking awesome that you went to USM. I knew there was a reason I liked you.

I spent about 8 years or so in Newport. My folks took me to a black bears football game, and some retahhhhhded kid pulled a knife on me and my friend.

We laughed at him and said, "Ah U kiddin'? This is fuckin Maine."

Wicked awesome!

I now live in LA and write shitty screenplays that you may one day hate.

Much love,

Selena Gomez
58
@Paul I loved his Dawn of the Dead remake too! I didn't like 300. So it's not like he's some sort of magic director.

I also just got back from seeing Watchmen a third time (friends were going, I'm not a psycho, leave me alone) and I still enjoy it. However, after a third viewing I noticed that the ending did drag more than it did on the first or second views. I do think it is due to Veidt's lengthy exposition. I'm not sure what the right way to get around that would have been. He clearly explains what he did, like a Scooby-Doo villain, in both the comic and the movie. Hrm.

Also, so far 1 friend (who tried to read the graphic novel but quit 10 pages in because it was boring) HATED the movie, 2 that haven't read it did not like it, 1 that has read it did not like it, 1 that has read it loved it, and 3 that have not read it loved it. Paul is right, this is a fascinating conversation piece.

A common thread in all cases is the fourth act (the end). However, others loved/hated events inside and outside of that. Not a single person would have preferred the squid though, which I was relived to hear.
59
Also, I would have never guessed Paul had a five figure education.

OH SNAP! :-)
60
Paul, I went to see the movie yesterday as part of a work event (there were at least a hundred of us) and was dreading it, to the point that I was keeping to myself my secret hope that the movie could possibly be anywhere near as great as the original comic was in the mid 1980s. Somehow, I felt like the movie failing or succeeding would reflect on me if anyone realized how much I was geeking out at the prospect of a movie adaptation I never had a right to expect to see when I was reading this comic miniseries an issue at a time in art school.

I think the movie was mostly well-received by my coworkers (mostly the ones that would have ever watched the movie to begin with, even if it hadn't been free and got us out of work for three hours - don't think it won any new converts), though almost all of them I heard from thought the final third was the weakest, the point where the "supervillain's evil plan" kicks in.

I think the ending in the movie is no more or less valid than the one in the original comic. In fact, the comic's ending would have made no sense in this movie without a rewrite of the entire script. I think I may even like this ending better, given the entire film's slow build of Manhattan as a fearsome, Godlike being and the theme of a disengaged God unwilling to interfere in human affairs no matter how gory. It's more "Day The Earth Stood Still" than "Outer Limits: Architects of Fear" than the source material, but in the movie it's valid.

The problem is the same in the movie, though, as the comic -- that whole plotline is nowhere near as compelling (or deftly done) as the filling in of character backstory and alternate worldbuilding. And this is where the movie almost matches the comic -- with the possible exception of Laurie (I disagree that Ackerman was wooden, though -- I thought she was fine; she just didn't get enough story attention), the characters and their world are beautifully fleshed out and revealed in the course of the film with so much more material from the comic packed in than I ever expected.

One thing I definitely agree with you on is that the violence and gore were gratuitously over the top (the nudity, too, for that matter) and unnecessary. The scene I really viscerally disliked the most was the alleyway fight scene where Dan and Laurie stabbed and maimed their way through a crowd of thugs, casually murdering them as they went. I couldn't shake the feeling that Snyder put a lot of that stuff in the movie to intentionally insure an "R" rating.

I think any fan of the original comic or superhero comics in general owes it to themselves to see this movie. It's not really for everyone, and won't have anywhere near the mass appeal of The Dark Knight, but I think it's a surprisingly effective and powerful adaptation of the inarguably superior source material. Granted, it's completely unnecessary, but at the same time, it's pretty darn good.
61
I liked the movie, and have not read the graphic novel (though I might). I had no problem absorbing the back story, and thought the way it was presented is a strong point of the movie. The blue wang was indeed impressive, but so was all of Crudup's digitally enhanced physique. Squid or not, diehard fanboys were never going to be satisfied with a film screen version of the seminal comic.
62
decent review. but a bad watchmen adaptation can stand up to your average superhero blockbusters and outweigh them easily. it's like a steak dinner where the cuts are a little overcooked, in comparison to a qwik-e mart microwaved burrito. Thats right Hulk and Punisher, I'm talking aboot you. Movie coulda been better, but it could have been a LOT worse, and it wasn't. Plus the first silk spider with her 1940s big hair? Hot. Also the goth-lezzie. schwing? no? too retro?
63
All this smack talk of comics and their inevitable movie adaptations and not once has anybody mentioned "Tank Girl".

How penile of you, Paul.
64
I saw the movie today. Yes it omits some of the content of the book, But speaking as an informed fan: The Movie Freakin' Rocked! Better ending than the book. Don't listen to this Douchebag,fake movie critic. This movie is worth watching on the big screen.
65
I saw the movie yesterday. I hadn't yet read the novel, but thought I would after the movie. But, I HATED THE MOVIE. I walked out of it; it's the first movie I've ever left midway through. I still want to read the book, but I think I'll have to wait a while, until the memory of the movie leaves me...
66
Deeply loved the book. Lightly loved the movie. My feelings for one are not based on the other. They are two different things.

One of my biggest problems with the movie vs. the book, for instance, is that the movie portrays Laurie and Dan as murderers. This robs them of the heroism they have (and their colleagues don't) in the book. But, in the movie Zack Snyder made, I have to admit it works. Because the movie is not the book.

You simply barely reviewed the movie, and then only through the lens of the book. The movie succeeds much more often than it fails and it doesn't fail in ways that are fatal. That makes it better than the vast majority of films most of us will see this year.

And I've disliked everything Snyder has done before, by the way. But those films aren't this film, either, any more than this film is the book.

Finally, since others have commented on the word-of-mouth, everyone I know who's seen this film so far (at least a dozen people of different types, most of whom had never heard of Watchmen before) loved this movie, too.
67
Oh please... this movie was pretty horrific. The movie, as a separate piece, judged by the standards of which movies are judged by (not the graphic novel on which it's based on) was not well done. Asides from the opening scenes, most of it was oddly paced, displayed bad editing choices (the soundtrack in particular; the songs themselves were good songs, but when paired with the imagery, they were laughable) ideas in which may have been explained in the book, were overly simplified and/or used cliches in order to get the point cross. And don't even get me started on the blue penis, and awful sex scene. Really the only good thing about this movie was the portrayal and look of Rorschach. I think Paul hit all the right spots in his review, especially the one about subtlety. Fans of the book need to be able to make the separation between the movie and the book, and understand that when one is criticized, it does not always reflect on the other.
68
-1 disagree

I read Watchmen as a kid (loved it), picked it up again as an adult (loved it), and felt this movie adaption was overall just fantastic (loved it). Crudup's Dr Manhattan exhibits more humanity that I thought possible. Of course, Haley's Rorschach blew my mind, especially his last scene.
69
I have a couple questions for you, Paul, that I want to throw out before I go trying to post my own review. First of all--When someone admits that an adaptation follows the letter of the source material, then criticizes the architects of the adaptation for failing to properly capture the "spirit" of said source, is he not simply making the "spirit" of the work into another letter, or another aspect of the letter? In other words, are you not just finding another crucial detail (a personal favorite crucial detail, at that) that the adapter was supposed to "get," presumably at the expense of something else the filmmaker found more compelling?

A sub-question on that--is the content of a work like Watchmen (the book) determined by the author(s--and it's worth noting, here, that I don't necessarily think Gibbons and Moore were entirely on the same page as to the content, which means any dissonance Snyder added to the work was folded into an already dissonant work), or by the reader(s)? I'm slightly less postmodern than the next guy, probably less so than The Stranger judged as a whole entity (I think Charles Mudede will be "Exhibit A" in Foucault's trial for crimes against humanity), but I DO tend to subscribe to the notion that the "meaning" of a work has more to do with the subjective relationship between audience and "author function" than with the stated intent of the author-in-fact.

Another thought--Could the vid-game styling and gleeful graphic violence of the action sequences be considered Snyder's own attempt to play with cinematic conventions in the way Moore and Gibbons played with comic book conventions? Music videos and video games, after all, are an inescapable part of modern cinematic language, as much as formal purists hate for it to be so (I say that as a part-time, somewhat reluctant formal purist), and are particularly integral to the recent evolution of the superhero movie . . . no?

If you haven't already gathered, I'm coming out on the positive side of an internal struggle about the film. I'm impressed with how much of the plot they crammed into the movie; how the length, the male nudity, the graphic violence, and the complexity of the plot defied the laws of big-studio filmmaking; with the sheer, raw beauty of Haley's performance, which, for me, eclipses Ledger's turn this last summer to become the finest supporting performance in a comic movie since . . . well, ever.

I was so prepared to hate Ackerman that she pleasantly surprised me by being more or less adequate. I thought she was miscast--too young, too pretty (though really not my type; for both better casting AND being more my type, I'd have gone for Maura Tierney). Wilson wasn't much better. Goode had the right manner, if I didn't quite buy the notion that he was that physically powerful. Morgan was perfectly cast. Crudup was . . . enhanced. I liked his detached, soft-spoken manner, in any case.

The violence WAS a little over-the-top, fetishizing what I think the book was critiquing. But cinema really can't help but fetishize violence, can it? Besides, by making a fetish of the violence, it seems to me that Snyder almost plays right into Moore's critique despite himself; the violence in the movie is part of a vast, culture-wide suffusion of pornography and fabricated gratification that the book critiques (even as Moore casts a jaundiced eye on his fellow critics--grudging empathy for the reactionary view, perhaps?).

I haven't seen Snyder's Dawn of the Dead; I'm too sentimental about Romero's. 300 was like one of my bad trips back in college (which I didn't finish, either, Paul, so maybe neither of us is qualified to make these kinds of calls)--a somewhat regrettable experience, but preferable, at least at the time, to a sober weekend.

Watchmen? I liked it. A lot. Maybe even loved it, for all its flaws. Snyder, it seems to me, is neither fish nor fowl . . . or rather, he's both fish AND fowl: geek and jock; fanboy and frat boy. I can sympathize with that, and I can appreciate the tension it brings to his films, perhaps unintentionally (which is how B-movies usually expose their complexity). Maybe Watchmen needed the next John Sayles, rather than a journeyman John Carpenter, but it's hard for me to complain that it got the latter.
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Overall I have to respectfully disagree. I for one could not stand the dark knight and felt that the only thing that saved it was Heath Ledger's acting. I grew up with comics, especially batman and its length and overdone lines made me want to flee the movie theater as soon as possible. I will agree that I felt the watchmen movie was compacted to fit into its time constraints but we have to remember that snyder is making something that many have called unfilmable. I think that within the set parameters he did well. Though he told the story well, I still feel as if something was lost on the screen from not reading the novel. However the point of these movies is to adapt the story and that is what he did. To expect the movie to bring to life the glory that is a comic book is not going to happen. Like anything else people that read comics get it and those that don't, just don't. It was adapted so that the general public who are not going to read a graphic novel or not understand what is so great about it, will come off with understanding of why it changed comics for good.
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100% wrong—with disrespect.
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I agree that the WTF moment at the end of the comic totally makes sense in the story of the comic but would have been off-putting given the structure of the movie. I think I understand what our reviewer here means though when he talks about the final point falling under a few seconds of consideration.

I agree that there was some severe splattercore that was a bit too disturbing.

Part of the problem of adaptation is maintaining truth and connection to the source material while making it meaningful to an audience who doesn't feel a need to put up with the soap-opera antics of evil twins, fake deaths, alternate universes with children of current heroes, random space alien sagas, and everything else the X-Men have put us through in the past 30 years. The Dark Knight and Batman Begins did a fantastic job of taking its source material and incorporating meaningful moments from the comics (like Arkham's blowing open or Rah's Al Ghul's plot to destroy Gotham) into the story in a new, inventive narrative. By comparison, I felt that V for Vendatta failed here: it was an admirable attempt to graft the new ideas of post-9/11 terror onto Alan Moore's book, but something made it all a little superficial (at least, for a superhero movie).

There is a place that the Watchmen movie failed, and I would say it is in finding this new and meaningful dimension to the story first told in the comic. The movie was crafted well and did an excellent job of maintaining its commitment to the source material, something where movies like Superman Returns and the new Punisher: War Zone failed (IMHO). However, I didn't walk out of the movie and say to myself, "Wow, I had never thought of Dr. Manhattan in that way before" or "they really did a good job of showing why the Silk Spectre went back to the Comedian" or "that extra scene between Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias really added depth to the story." For me, this would have pushed the movie from a quality faithful adaptation to rock-out, slam-bang winner. Despite this particular lack, the movie was an honest and careful retelling of a great story and worth the money to see it on the big screen.
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Funny thing...

I HATED the graphic novel, but LOVED the movie. Figure that....
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Soupytwist is right. Films should be judged on their own merits. Film is an inherently different medium than comics and "Watchmen" the film must be judged as a thing-in-itself. Besides, the most salient point of the comic to me has always been the inherent dangers of the superhero idea, and the film does a good job of distilling that one.
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just got back from the film...
Did anyone else notice that the intro... the first five minutes of the film was such an excellent mind fux, I haven't had my brain jarred in a theatre like that since training day. I would have payed twice admission to see it.
Also nogs at TANK GIRL, but it seems that you can't separate film with it's attendant cost and production value from era as well as some other media. It was good for the nineties.
Also...big ass nogs to the big blue wang... long may it hang!

S
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Anyone saying, here or elsewhere, that the film was too violent needs to read the book again and pay attention this time. Then shut the fuck up.

I do think it's interesting that one of the complaints about the film I've seen from numerous reviews is that it's too faithful to the book. This is a glaring contradiction, and must be the first adaptation in history to be reviled for not deviating enough from the source material.
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Stop bloviating and just admit the movie rocked.
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There was a blue penis in this movie!

I really would have appreciated seeing that specified next to the "R" on the poster.

I don't want to look at some other guys wang!

Only gay people look at that.
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My review can be read by clicking on my screen name below.