Friday, 13 March 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen?

Do you think I'd tell you if there was any chance left you could stop me? I watched it 7 days ago. I wasn't going to write anything about it (does the internet need yet another unsolicited opinion on the movie?) but fuck it, I'm doing it anyway. Not a review, just a few opinions about the film.

The stuff I liked? The opening credits sequence was fantastic. A few of the historical references were a little on-the-nose and the music choice is a tad obvious but it does a good job of condensing decades of alternate history into a digestible format. Good job. I also liked how the costumes for the Minutemen were cheesy and simple, like the old TV serials of the 40s and 50s, while the modern costumes were more like modern super hero movies.

I loved Dr Manhattan's back story sequence. That was one part I didn't think would work on the big screen, but luckily Crudup brought his A game. Speaking of which, I thought most of the performances were great. Jackie Earle Haley and Patrick Dean Morgan were fantastic. The two weakest members of the cast were Matthew Goode and Malin Ackerman. Particularly Ackerman, she was terrible.

I know that the trailer calls Watchmen the "most celebrated graphic novel of all time", but that's just a term to make the neckbeards feel better about themselves. It's a comic book, it was released as twelve separate issues. Consequently, the movie seemed overstuffed, like a whole bunch of little sequences mashed together. Being a big fan of the book it's easy to spackle over any gaps, but I imagine someone coming in clean would be totally lost. Although I've heard people who have never even heard of the comic say they loved it. So I probably don't know what the fuck I'm talking about.

I didn't miss the vagina squid and I thought the changed ending worked just as well, but I can see why some people would disagree. Either way that plan doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but you buy it because Ozymandias is the smartest guy on Earth. Or you would buy it if Matthew Goode were a better actor. Still, it's hard not to imagine what might have been. Snyder's got pretty big balls to try this adaptation in the first place, but I'd definitely upgrade him to Enormous Monster Balls status if he'd kept the giant psychic space squid.

There's also the issue of the soundtrack, where it seems like they thought of the first relevant lyric that came into their head and then just plopped the song in without thinking about whether it sounds weird or cliched. I know that some of the songs were quoted in the comic book, but still, "99 Luftballons" at an intimate dinner? "The Sound of Silence" at a funeral? And that My Chemical Romance cover was fucking awful.

Snyder has a huge boner for stylised violence. I mean, it's cool bro, we all do, but I don't think it works here. In the context of the comic, violence is something grisly and awful. In the movie you can tell that Snyder think's it's totally sweet, no matter how many snapped limbs and CG blood sprays he puts in there. His nerd-boner is showing. He turns every minor confrontation into a huge slow-mo enhanced action setpiece. Still, if the price of getting this film into the multiplexes is some slightly obnoxious fight scenes, I'm not going to complain. It's way better than that shaky-cam The Dark Knight bullshit.

I know it sounds like I thought it sucked, but I actually liked it and I'm looking forward to the extended edition. It's way better than I thought it would or could be.

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