Watchmen

Watchmen movie posterViolence, sex, superheroes and a tricky d!ck. I knew to expect all of those things going into this film based on the epic mini-series turned graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I knew that director Zack Snyder was going to play it very faithful to the original work except for a change to the ending.

I knew all of this going in, but I still left the theater blown away.

Before I continue further, I am not really concerned about spoilers, but I won’t give away any twists either. I will talk about the end, but in fairly general terms. Just beware I guess.

Now, I haven’t read — but should read — Frank Miller’s graphic novel 300 upon which Zack Snyder’s previous film of the same name — duh, you probably heard of it — was based. I had heard that that film was also faithful, almost to a fault. (Or was that Sin City?) I figured he’d do the same treatment here and that was what I heard was done, but I was still skeptical it could be pulled off.

Yes, Snyder had to take a few liberties by cutting out some of the extraneous stuff that Moore filled his Watchmen world with. The kid on the newsstand corner reading the Tales of the Black Freighter pirate comics, the way that story weaved into the one in reality, the other people whose lives intersected at that same street corner. These things were not missed by me and if you missed them, they are available as an animated DVD short, which I might check out because even though I never really *got* the pirate story in the book, maybe I will if it is extracted and run at once. That said, Snyder had to pull it out because the comic’s author was no longer a character in the film since he was going to change the ending.

The ending was the biggest change. No giant alien squid monster. In fact, I kinda liked Snyder’s ending a little better, but both have their merits. Jason does a good job of comparing them over on his piece at Poe Ghostal’s PoA. (He has spoilers in order to have a proper discussion.) I won’t get too far into it here, but let’s say I tend to agree that while the alien thing might have a longer lasting effect on the peace, the movie ending made more sense for the direction the story took. It made more sense to me. The alien thing seemed too out of left field to me when I read it. Yeah, Manny Being Manny left field too. I know that was sorta the point, but still, I wasn’t necessarily buying.

Sex and violence go together quite often and unfortunately, not always in the good way, i.e. rape. Well, yes, there is some of that in this story but it isn’t ever really shown the same way as in the book. No, the real sex here is because of the violence. The characters get off on it and then get off on it. This makes sense right? The adrenaline rush of busting up some goons with your best girl/boy should naturally leave you feeling high and with a need to further release this new energy created from the other. Anyway, I felt like this was in-line with what the book presented. Thank gawd too. I’m glad Snyder still balanced the overabundance of Doctor Manhattan dudity with something for the lads. Jason talks about this scene as well and I agree with him that I missed some of the post coital dialog from the book here, but I didn’t feel like the scene lingered too long. Basically, I felt it matched the pace I remembered from the book.

As for the violence, yeah, it was gratuitously violent in some places. Definitely more than anything in the recent Batman flicks, but was it any worse than something out of a Blade flick? It definitely wouldn’t be that bad if they made the true adaptation of Wanted last year. But, this superhero film does rank further down the dark and dirty spectrum than a Spider-man or Superman flick. I did like the fight scenes except for the broken bones protruding. I have a hard time watching that, but I can watch people get shot all day. I guess that is because I feel like it is more likely I could get by bones broken than shot.

The cast was great all around. I really liked Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach and Billy Crudup portrayed Doctor Manhattan as I expected, but with a little help from a green suit. I like to tell myself that his junk was rendered and not part of the green suit, or in that case, a green sock. I think Patrick Wilson did a good job with Dan Dreiberg (and Nite Owl II). That was a character I found fascinating because he was such a quiet nerdy dork type but once that suit was on he was a total Batman bad ass. Finally, Jeffrey Dean Morgan put in a great turn as The Comedian. So much so that I enjoyed the character more in the movie than the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It really brought the story to life from the pages. I think it was a better adaptation than V For Vendetta, but that’s not meant to take anything away from V. As a movie unto its own, I think V is a little better than Watchmen, but then I have seen that more than once. I know Moore hates both. Okay, I don’t know that he hates Watchmen, I assume it. I’m sure I am right. I do look forward to seeing it again and you should definitely go check it out.

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Oh, and if that opening sentence offended you, bravo for making it this far anyway. Of course I was talking about Richard Nixon and not Doctor Manhattan’s… well… you know.