Movies, Reviews

Review: Watchmen

This is how I describe Watchmen: IT FUCKING ROCKED.

The Watchmen
Because every poster needs to have somebody beating the shit out of a 67-year old guy.

Yes, amazingly, the guy who brought the fun, yet ultimately brainless film “300,” was able to bring the most important graphic novel (a.k.a. sequential art’s BIBLE) to the big screen. It’s not perfect, but this is the closest adaptation anybody could possibly come up with. And my boner is satisfied.

But before I go on with the rest of the review, please indulge me as I rant a bit about the R-13 with cuts rating that the movie got in the Philippines. So they left in the gratuitous violence, the nudity, and heck, they even left in Dr. Manhattan’s blue uncircumcised wang, but they had to cut out most of the sex scene? Seriously? So it’s ok that 13-year olds see lots of blood splattering and bones being broken and a guy being fried in boiling oil, but not the sex? Really?!

If they want to make Watchmen family friendly, why not turn this Saturday morning Watchmen cartoon into reality?

I’m pretty sure Alan Moore won’t go on a murder spree. I think.

And this is what I think of the movie, presented in easy-to-digest bullet form! Of course, possible spoilers abound. Be warned.

  • The film felt like it watered-down and dumbed down the source material. Understandable, but I’m kind of disturbed.
  • It’s not Alan Moore’s graphic novel. But it’s pretty damn close.
  • The Doctor has a huge Manhattan. (quoted from Jayvee)
  • NO GIANT SQUID. The new ending worked, yeah, but I WANT MY FREAKING GIGANTIC VAGINA-SQUID WITH CORPSES STREWN ALL OVER NEW YORK.
  • When Rorschach said his immortal line “None of you understand. I’m not locked up in here with you. You’re locked up in here with me,” the audience exploded in applause. And I giggled like a schoolgirl.
  • I’m never listening to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah the same way again.
  • Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ is now twice more awesome.
  • Ozymandias’s German accent is totally unnecessary. Yeah, I know he came from a Nazi family. I get it. Now speak something intelligible, for crying out loud.
  • I want my own OwlShip. But I’ll have to install a shag carpet on it first.

Final word: I’ll be giving Watchmen 5 / 5 Dr. Manhattan Condoms:

Dr. Manhattan Condom Dr. Manhattan Condom Dr. Manhattan Condom Dr. Manhattan Condom Dr. Manhattan Condom

What do you guys think of Watchmen?

Thanks to Azrael for the premiere tickets! You rock!

35 Comments

  1. Man, I won't even listen to Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah version the same way also. I can't explain if they ruined it or not, but I was literally smiling when it used as score for that sex scene. Maybe I'm sick in the brain.

  2. Rorschach was an especially well developed as a character; i hope the actor that played his role is nominated for some kind of an award (when that season comes around again)

  3. RC

    yeah, i was expecting to see the giant squid too because of the way it was presented in the comics– freaking visually intriguing. but yes, the alternative worked fine.

    also, just want to say something while reading nightdreamer's comments. i have this impression that he is thinking from a perspective of someone looking at watchmen as "watchmen, the movie" and not "watchmen, a graphic novel turned into a movie". i liked the movie because as you said,

    'an “unfilmable” comic book was filmed, and the result is largely faithful to the source material.'

    and that's the feat that matters on this movie. it has flaws movie-making wise, but it is expected if you attempt to concretize a source material such as this.

    • Ade

      Exactly. Watchmen is lucky to have a fanboy like Snyder making the film, although I wonder how Darren Aronofsky could have made it.

    • Kinda late in reading this, as I've been staying away from Watchmen conversations in the previous week.

      RC sez,

      "i have this impression that he is thinking from a perspective of someone looking at watchmen as “watchmen, the movie” and not “watchmen, a graphic novel turned into a movie”."

      I am actually doing that, i.e. looking at Watchmen as a movie. I'm of the belief that a great adaptation movie should be able to stand on its own without inconsistencies and bad acting, and with plot, setting, and characters that the audiences can connect to. There are actually a lot of adaptation movies that succeeded in all those. I'd say some Harry Potter did well. And Godfather is just brilliant I'm not sure people speak of the book as often as they do of the film.

      ‘an “unfilmable” comic book was filmed, and the result is largely faithful to the source material.’

      and that’s the feat that matters on this movie. it has flaws movie-making wise, but it is expected if you attempt to concretize a source material such as this.

      I dunno, I think it's being cut too much slack. I just can't help but wonder that, had Zack Snyder released Watchmen with all the special effects unaltered, but before the geek/fanboy generation (of which I think I also belong to) came to be and before the internet became available for mass consumption, would anyone have cared?

      And while I consider myself a hardcore geek, I don't really think I need Hollywood to give shout-outs to our kinds, so I don't really think Watchmen is lucky to have a fanboy like Snyder making the film. I would've preferred it to stay film-less.

      If you can, try to read my review of the movie, though you probably can already predict that it's not a very positive review.

      I'm also in the very slim minority who think that the squid-alternative wasn't very compelling. Yeah, I can understand not using the squid, but I thought using the, well, you know what they used, sort of defeated the purpose of the movie a little bit. I'd explain this, except someone from this forum had already written similar thoughts on it. So I'll just quote him:

      "I take issue with them changing the explanation for the catastrophe at the end. I believe IIRC the comics, Ozy made the climactic attacks look like the work of invading aliens. And that element in the comics worked well because it tied into something Reagan said previously about how mankind would drop its petty bickering and work together if attacked by an unknown force from outside our world, making the concept very timely. By changing everything to look like Dr. Manhattan did it, I feel that they've almost justified the nature of the Cold War: In the Cold War, everyone behaved out of fear of the nuclear bogeyman. And now that it looks like Dr. Manhattan attacked the world, humans must now coexist peacefully out of fear of the superhero bogeyman. One bogeyman has replaced another, and by agreeing with the situation the Watchmen may in fact be advocating the principles of the Cold War. I find the change a bit too significant."

      I also thought that since the general population already hated "superheroes" since the beginning of the movie, making the catastrophe look like it was caused by Dr. Mahattan changes nothing because people will just hate "superheroes" even more. One can argue that from the comic book, people would realize that the Squid threat could've been thwarted had they not outlawed costumed vigilantes.

  4. krystal

    oh crap…no giant robot squid? i was looking forward to that.

    i'll watch it later, after work.

    i guess i'll just have to settle for etits y betlogs de azul

  5. Something I wrote in a hurry so there may be typos and grammatical errors abound. Anyway, here's my reply to your previous message, Ade:

    I’ve always thought that Watchmen was a movie made by a fanboy for all the fanboys out there

    I watched it expecting bad things about it – I'm not always this bad but this is one of those times, and I tend to be less benign in watching superhero movies given how weary I am of them, but I digress. Despite being one of the fanboys who don't really want to see a movie made out of the source material, I agree with your first statement. I doubt that this movie would exist had the comics not have any fans, and had there been no significant population clamoring for it. Having 3 or so directors attempting to adapt it furthers this case.

    However…

    If it was dumbed down, it’s meant to reel in new people so they can discover the graphic novel themselves.

    Thing is, what this movie suffers from is not from the dumbing-down such that it's like the bullet-points of what it's adapting. What it suffers from are flaws that are actually tangible to people who've never read it, flaws that, you can say, are bad cinematography, like bad acting, underdeveloped characters, too much slow motion, etc.

    As for this fanboy's perspective, I thought the slow-mos and the baffling hyper-wired-and-physics-defying fight scenes downplays its intent: the deconstruction of comic heroes. Which is supposed to say that they're normal people whose notions of justice demand to be challenged by us who watch them – therefore the quote "Who Watches the Watchmen". But Zack did not put in enough details that make the "superheroes" human. He glosses them over in favor of the over-emphases on styles (and picture-perfect translation of comic book panels). Fights with such exaggeration dispel the premise that we're watching a story about- excepting Manhattan and Ozy-normal people. It runs counter to the original intent of the work, and the result is not as compelling, and harder to connect on an emotional level. Failing that, then, it's worth asking what the point of the movie is. Surely it should be something more than just to satiate fanboys wanting to see digital schlongs.

    And since this is speculative fiction, it's worth having a world where normal audiences (which is, including those who haven't read the book) can make a connection. This world is detailed in the book, but neglected in the movie. Okay, so we have all the noirishness, the appearance that this city is full of vices, yet how are we to relate ourselves to its world when, in the movie, nothing is shown about how the civilians respond to it (which takes a huge chunk of the comics)? And most of all, how would we see the rationale behind banning superheroes if this angle of the story is severely downplayed in the movie? Why would the new audiences care?

    I would argue that the new people won't be very inspired to discover the graphic novel after seeing this drawn-out movie for how it fails to send its message across with any clarity.

    • Ade

      They took out a huge chunk of Watchmen because the movie was already running dangerously close to 3 hours. The Ultimate Edition DVD coming out in December will restore most of the scenes removed, like the kid at the news stand reading Tales of The Black Freighter (which will be integrated in the movie as well).

      All in all, the graphic novel is a dense and multilayered book. They had to make a choice between putting in as much detail as possible (which will derail the movie) and sticking to the main plot.

      Most people who have never read a single comic book in their lives actually like the movie.

      I don't think Watchmen will be the superhero film (it's a toss-up between The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2 for me). I don't even think the film will age as well as the comic. But the point is, an "unfilmable" comic book was filmed, and the result is largely faithful to the source material.

      There's hope for us comic book geeks. Just keep Fox away from our comics (looks disdainfully at X3 and the Fantastic Four movies).

      • Most people who have never read a single comic book in their lives actually like the movie.

        I really can't speak for anyone about this, but the reviews I read from the people who've never read the comic book were indifferent about it. My friend's fiancee, who also never read the comic, fell asleep watching it.

        Although your girlfriend seems to like it. So, I'm not really sure if general consensus of the non-readers is that this film is okay or not. I can only judge it based on how
        it told its story, and that I found kind of blah.

        But I guess the only real way to gauge the effectiveness of this movie is to ask them three months later if they remember anything about its story.

        But the point is, an “unfilmable” comic book was filmed, and the result is largely faithful to the source material.

        I never accused the movie of not being faithful of the source material, just that they did not grasp most of its subtext. The horrible acting by Nite Owl and Silk Spectre did not help things any, and, let's face it, the movie lacked subtlety. Everyone just either growls or seduces.

        Didn't know the history of Fox ruining comic movies, though, but yeah, X3 is subpar, and FF is awful. I also agree with you that the definitive superhero films are TDK and S2.

        Anyway, thanks for having the patience to reply. 🙂

  6. I give the movie… a D. I didn't like it at all. I thought it were too dumbed down for those who've read the material, and too complicated for those who've not read it. Plus, I can't see why the latter camp would care about what happens to the characters.

    • Ade

      "I thought it were too dumbed down for those who’ve read the material, and too complicated for those who’ve not read it."

      You're kind of making it impossible to get to a middle ground, y'know?

      • Granted, I may be. Here's how I think of the film:

        if the comic book never existed, and the movie was a standalone original material, i have a hard time thinking anyone would've cared what happened in it. it would only be a movie with bits and pieces of geniuses but ultimately distant, disconnected and draws no emotional impact from the viewers.

        I would've discussed further, but it's early in the morning and I'm not in my "prime" thinking mood yet.

        • Ade

          I've always thought that Watchmen was a movie made by a fanboy for all the fanboys out there. If it was dumbed down, it's meant to reel in new people so they can discover the graphic novel themselves.

        • Spot on Nightdreamer!I havent' heard of the graphic novel so I watched this movie with zero expectations (and background knowledge). As you say, I found it hard to attach to any of the characters. Toward the end i was hoping they all died because the movie was taking too long and I needed to pee!

          • Ade

            I am going to sound like a Watchmen apologist here, but I honestly loved the movie. The graphic novel wasn't made as a character study. It was a deconstruction of the various superhero archetypes.

            I do admit that the movie could be better, but I'm just happy that a movie was made out of that dense multi-layered graphic novel and that Hollywood didn't shit on Watchmen.

  7. RJ

    I give it an A-.

    Us geeks can nitpick all we want if we wanted to, but we couldn't deny that it was damn entertaining and awesome.

    also, SPAAAAAAAAAACE WAAAAAAAAAANG

  8. Finally got the chance to see it. As a pop culture moron, I've never heard of Watchmen until I saw the trailer a few months ago. But I enjoyed the movie.

    Boo to MTRCB though. The jumping music made the sex scene cuts annoyingly obvious.

  9. CM

    I thought that Rorschach line was AWSAM!

    Here's my take:
    http://filmnotes.wordpress.com/2009/03/07/movie-r

  10. planning to watch it tonight after work…

  11. hmm, i've never read alan moore. i'm more a manga kind of guy. but ade, will someone unfamiliar with moore's work still get the movie?

    "It’s not Alan Moore’s graphic novel. But it’s pretty damn close." – that good, eh, ade? promising. anyway, i hope it's still in theaters by the time i get the chance to see it.

    • Ade

      Well, my girlfriend knows nothing about Watchmen, but she loved it. But you seriously have to read the graphic novel afterwards because lots of subplots which are vital to the whole Watchmen experience aren't included.

      • hmm, i might do that.

        tbh, i'm not so well-versed on american graphic novels. x-men, spider-man and a few DC titles are as far as i've gone. oh, and a little gaiman too but not much.

        • Ade

          Ah, believe me, Watchmen is anything unlike the typical superhero comic. It's a deconstruction of the genre, so it subverts every convention of superhero comics.

          • I got a feeling deejay needs more experience with American superhero comics if he wants to fully appreciate Watchmen's Graphic Novel.

          • Ade

            I dunno. Watchmen can be a good jumping point for those who want to read comics.

  12. No mention of MCR puking on Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row"? Their cover infuriated me especially since I am a huge fan of Highway 61 Revisited album.

    Still to watch the film. Thoughts to come afterwards.

    • Ade

      I haven't heard the original yet, but yeah, their version is horrible.

      Can't wait for your review!

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