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3-6-09

3-6-09

Day 938 of 365 Again.

I’m going to try very hard not to leave spoilers here.

So today should be a happy day. I’ve been waiting for a Watchmen movie for the better part of my life. Today that dream came true.

Sometimes dreams should just be dreams.

It certainly wasn’t the worst movie ever. In fact, I had intentionally kept my expectations low. I’m quite capable of doing that.

Don’t get me wrong, even though I was keeping my expectations low, I really really wanted it to be a good movie. And it had it’s moments. I certainly didn’t expect it to be as ground breaking and medium changing as the comic was. But I wanted to enjoy it, and there were even things I did enjoy. But there was just too much.

The problem with most adaptations, comic books or otherwise, is that they deviate too far from the source material and they piss off the fans. A lot has been made of the ending to Watchmen being changed. I didn’t really care much for the new ending but that wasn’t that big a deal. Beyond that, they tried to be "faithful" to the book. To make sure they got every detail in that fans would be looking for.

They should have cut more.

The major text of Watchmen is 384 pages long. To accurately portray it on screen in a minute for minute translation, I’d estimate it’d run about 6 and a half hours or so. Undoable. So they cut it down. Removed all the minor characters. Removed a lot of the minor subplots, and tried to just hit all the major beats that made the story great.

Except, those major moments, while memorable were all very carefully crafted by Alan Moore (the original writer) to tie together all those minor subplots. By breezing through them we ended up with a lot of details that really go nowhere. There are details that occur that while they may look cool don’t have any setup because the subtle foreshadowing earlier in the story simply isn’t present. There are enough Chekov’s guns in the movie to arm a small army.

What this means is we have a movie nearly three hours long that is paced incredibly poorly. Sure it was fun, but it wasn’t good. A good adaptation makes me go "wow, that’s awesome, I have to read the original book and see what that was like." Watchmen didn’t do that. If I had never read the book, and I saw the film and knew everyone loved the book, I’d say "eh, I guess that was ok for a comic book movie, but really, what’s all the fuss?"

That’s the big issue. There’s little ones too. Stylistic problems I had with the cinematography, costuming and special effects. Stylistically, I want Watchmen to be somewhere along the vein of the Dark Knight. Instead, I felt like I got Batman Forever. This is not a good thing. I mean, I guess it’s fine, but I don’t want to laugh at Watchmen (and make no mistake I was laughing AT it, not WITH it). I want to be engrossed by it. I wasn’t. In fact, I really think that if I wasn’t already a fan, and wanted to give it a chance I would have been even more annoyed than I am.

Is it worth seeing, I guess. And it’s unreasonable to expect it to be as meaningful as the book, so I really worked on convincing myself that it wouldn’t be. But I hoped to be pleasantly surprised. And while I certainly didn’t expect it to be the best superhero movie ever, I really did think it’d probably be the best one of the year.

But honestly, at this point I can easily see the Wolverine movie or the GI Joe movie blowing it out of the water.

365 days

Crossposted to my blog.

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9 comments for “3-6-09

  1. avatar
    March 7, 2009 at 8:27 am

    My brother saw Watchman last night and said it was awesome! Said there is going to be a 3 hour edition DVD released. I wanted to go see it today but was not a big fan of the graphic novel so I may like it too. He did buy another copy of the book to read to sort out the differences as well. As for the Dark Knight, didn’t like it. I know they were trying the reboot the story but they destroyed the Jokers story for me in the process. As for Wolverine it looks cool and G.I. Joe I know will be stupid yet fun to watch.

  2. avatar
    March 7, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Interesting.

    I’m not a comic book guy at all…I bought some Elektra books a few years ago before that movie came out. I think that purchase was largely about Jennifer Garner though. I bought the Watchman book a few weeks ago after all the hype but haven’t made the time to read much of it yet. Now I’m trying to decide if I should crank through the book before or after watching the movie.

    I often find that I’d actually rather watch the movie first…that way you avoid all the disappointment that people who love the source material feel! (This has applied well to the Harry Potter movies so far, for example.)

  3. avatar
    March 7, 2009 at 10:09 am

    thehalfshow.com: I am looking forward to the director’s cut DVD. I’m hoping that maybe some of the Checkov’s guns that I was complaining about are taken care of (I have specific ones in mind, one of which I know IS taken care of on the DVD). But there are so many, and I just know they won’t be. I thought the problem the movie was going to have was that it would disappoint all the fanboys by removing too much, but no, the problem it has is that in trying to please all the fanboys, there’s way too much crap in there that doesn’t work from a cohesive storytelling point of view (in a movie) given with what they did cut. And you didn’t like the graphic novel? Something is clearly wrong with you.

    d.rex: watch the movie first. Definitely. But then read the book. I really don’t think the movie will inspire you to read the book, but we’ll see. Let me know. Harry Potter is a good example. In the first Harry Potter movie, I thought they did the same thing as I thought they did here. Filmed the Cliff’s Notes. I didn’t think it worked as well if you didn’t know anything about what you were watching. There was too much glossed over in the name of getting everything in there. In later installments, they worked through that and began to cut stuff in order to make it work better (actually pissing off lots of fans, but making a much better film). But there can be no more Watchmen installments.

  4. avatar
    March 7, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Ok, my comment is about your "cover" pic. Really, really like it!

    About the movie… guess I am one of the few people who don’t care if they see it or not. I’m guessing you already knew that though 🙂

  5. avatar
    March 7, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    My friend Kristina was SOoo excited that it came out on her birthday….she said good visuals, bad acting. I skipped your description because I don’t like to hear about movies I haven’t seen, but I get the impression you’re disappointed….so….sorry 🙁

  6. avatar
    March 7, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    i haven’t seen it and as i said in an earlier post, the trailers look really really bad for the movie it should be. but i might go catch it later this week (yes i’m curious enough to go see it).
    my bet continues on Wolverine i believe it will be an awesome movie.

  7. avatar
    March 16, 2009 at 10:41 am

    OK, so I went ahead and saw the movie before reading most of the book. For the most part, I liked it a lot. I generally thought it was well done. Some of the visuals were really outstanding. I was tired (<5 hours of sleep the night before) and I felt like it got off to a really slow start…I was actually worried I might start drifting off. But it recovered pretty well (and had I not been sleepy, it might not have been much of an issue)…and I do find that I want to read the whole book now. I think it might actually be easier to follow having seen the movie (as pathetic as that may sound).

    The only minor character I can think of that didn’t seem worth including was the older guy the two are going to visit when the get mugged (attempted). I’m guessing there’s more to that guy than was seen in the movie and I could easily imagine him being left out completely without losing anything. For the most part, though, I felt like everything worked together pretty well. I really like the scenes with the mother.

    Bottom line: I liked it. I didn’t love it. I’d probably give it a B or B-.

  8. avatar
    March 16, 2009 at 11:02 am

    d.rex: Ok, trying to respond without spoiling the book. Yes, "the old guy" is more important in the book, but seeing as how they didn’t really show the reason why he’s important in the movie, I too would have left him out entirely.

    I’m curious to see how you end up liking the book having seen the movie first. One of my marks of success for an adaptation project like this is "does it inspire me to view the original work." I don’t feel like seeing the movie would have made me want to read the book. As opposed to say "Wonder Boys" which made me totally want to read the book. On the other hand, having read the book, I think I understand the movie a lot more than I otherwise would. So yeah, I’d be curious to see if you think it helps. (Though, really, even though the book has more going on, I find it a rather cohesive story, and not really very confusing).

    I would have graded it around a B or B-. I thought it was "an ok superhero movie." Certainly not a great one, but it didn’t suck.

  9. avatar
    March 25, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Hey Mav, fun picture you did.

    I had not read the book and your statement of "eh, I guess that was ok for a comic book movie, but really, what’s all the fuss?" was pretty spot on. In talking with a few others that have read the book I think I’m going to have to go back and see what I’ve been missing.

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