Monday, March 23, 2009

Watchmen Review

As you might be able to tell from the smiley face above, this is a review for Watchmen. The movie came out the day that I went on Spring Break, and unfortunately for me, I wasn't able to see it (because of where I was) until the 10th, the Tuesday after it opened. I would have seen it earlier if possible, believe me. I also would have reviewed it earlier if I could have. I shared some thoughts on read/RANT, but here is my full review.

I am not a big fan of Watchmen. Sorry, people, but that is something I have to say. I've read it, and frankly, it was okay, but not the greatest thing in the world, at least in my opinion. I have lots of complaints about it, but those are not really all that relevant to the review. I just feel I have to mention that before I start talking about the movie. So yes I have read Watchmen, but I wasn't as enthralled as everybody else seemed to be.

The movie was good. It was fun and enjoyable. Yes, it is incredibly long, but honestly, it didn't feel as long to me. You know the saying, "Time flies when you're having fun?" Well, when something is somewhat enjoyable, time moves somewhat quickly, and definitely not at a slower pace. The movie faced a lot of challenges. As with all superhero movies, and in fact all movies based off of something that was made beforehand, a big problem is how well the source material is respected and adapted. So when Uncle Ben was killed by Sandman, that was a problem. When the Joker didn't have a backstory and was merely insane and anarchistic, that was good. With Watchmen, maybe more than any other superhero work, there are going to be people who are incredibly nitpicky. For them, I have to say that I think they did a great job at adapting the comic. No, not everything is perfect, but considering how dense Watchmen is, to include everything would have taken a lot of effort. Plus, when you consider that a comic is a medium without sound and movement, adding it in can be awkward. I've seen comics where there is a voice that speaks and you can't see who it is speaking, but you can see the word bubbles. With a movie, that is a lot harder to do, considering that it actually has to be a voice. With a voice changer, sure, you could make it ambiguous, but that would be incredibly awkward. Also, things can be much more ridiculous in comics (squid) that don't necessarily translate well to film. So, while it didn't get everything in Watchmen perfectly, I think it works really well with what was taken.

I have some complaints. One is that there is less into the psychology of Rorschach with Dr. Long at the prison. In the comic, Rorschach sees the rorschach blots, contorts his face as he thinks about what he actually sees, then, totally calm, he says that it is something that sounds normal. This happens for the session, then later, on another day, he decides to actually talk about what he sees. So when he sees the same blot, he contorts, then mentions waht he actually sees in the exact same manner that he mentioned the normal things. So, completely deadpan talks about a butterfly in the exact same deadpan talking about killing the dogs that the child murderer had. It was great, especially since Dr. Long started freaking out after he realized he didn't know Rorschach at all. Plus, I can't say for certain, but I seem to remember it this way, he didn't kill the guy with the cleaver, but left him chained to the furnace with the cleaver, set the house on fire, then walked out. He waited to see if the guy came out, but he never did. I think that was much more badass than just killing the guy, and I think that would have been more interesting. If that isn't what happened, then yeah, it was fine, but I seem to recall it playing out in the comic like that. Also, while somewhat time consuming and probably pretty non-important over all, I enjoyed seeing how Rorschach found the material to make his mask which was in the comic, but not the movie. Other complaints come from the costume department. Yes, obviously Ozymandias has a horrible Joel Schumaker Batman and Robin-esque costume, but, well, I like seeing superhero movies where the costume is pretty much exactly the same. Nite Owl looks like he's almost in a movie Batman like costume also. There seems to be too much leather in general.

Still, even with complaints, like I mentioned in the previous post, I went in trying to enjoy it. What happened was that I unfortunately went with my grandfather, who isn't a big superhero fan and has very old fashioned tastes. In what is somewhat stereotypical, he doesn't like the music and movies that kids listen to today, instead preferring the old stuff. He hated Watchmen. More specifically, he said, "I don't know if I can say it's the worst movie I've ever seen..." I didn't mention it earlier (but it is fixed by this point), but your opinions can easily change and get blown out of proportion. I remember this English class where people were debating what should happen to this person who did something wrong. There were 4 places to sit, those in favor of the harsher penalty, those more strongly in favor of the harsher penalty, those in favor of the lighter penalty and those more strongly in favore of the lighter penalty. I believe I was in favor of the harsher one, but everybody started out just in favor of whichever one they believed. As people argued back and forth, people started to want to win more than anything, moving to the more strongly section of the area they were in. As people just yelled at each other, both groups were horrible at convincing the other. I didn't move, and I was actually somewhat able to convince one of the other people, speaking more rationally than my colleagues, and in a few more minutes, he probably would have joined my side. What I learned was that when you have an opinion, even if you don't feel very strongly about it, when people act stupidly and the debate becomes less about the issue and more about insults, you feel much more sure of your opinion. This has happened to me multiple times (especially with my grandfather in trying to convince him that things today aren't all horrible), and I think it happened with my grandfather. I liked the movie, but in hearing him complain about it with his only genuine complain being that it was long, I felt a much stronger need to defend it. I did like the movie, but I don't think it was the greatest movie ever. Like the comic, I think it is good, but not great and the best thing ever. I actually liked the movie more than the comic, which doesn't really happen often with any movie that is based off of something. Still, I enjoyed Watchmen a lot. Without my grandfather, I probably would have enjoyed it slightly less (as I wouldn't have felt as great a need to defend it), but that can work either way, which is why I don't recommend it.

All in all, I think it was a fun movie. I don't think it was quite as deep as the comic, which to me is a good thing. I think that if you enjoyed reading Watchmen, you probably would enjoy watching it. If you didn't read it, I think it might be slightly harder to follow and slightly worse, but still not a horrible experience if you have an open mind. My final advice? Watch the Watchmen. It's worth it.

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