Monday, March 09, 2009
The Top Ten Things I learned from watching Watchmen
The long awaited graphic novel adaptation of Alan Moore's legendary Watchmen debuted this weekend and I splurged at the box office by buying an IMAX ticket(gotta stimulate that economy,folks!),which in this case,was worth every penny.
The visual look of the film is stunningly beautiful,with an almost hypnotic allure that makes you not give a damn about what effects were computer generated and what weren't.
Not only did the movie showcase the talents of the artists who drew and laid out the original images from the book,they also managed to add some original touches of their own. Those touches may not be noticed right off the bat but they're are the reason that this film will get some serious repeat business.
Those original touches apply to the screenplay,which is strongly faithful to the source material,and actually enhance the story for a more visual medium.
The basic premise of the plot is all there;the murder of a former superhero,the charismatic sociopath known as The Comedian(played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan),launches an investigation into his death lead by the brutally anti-social vigilante Rorschach( Jackie Earle Haley). Roschach's theory about a killer targeting old members of the team once known as Watchmen turns out to hold water and leads to the uncovering of a larger scheme that involves the fate of the entire world.
One of the smarter moves made by the film makers was to cast character actors along with fresh new faces in the major roles,allowing the audience to focus more on the people they were portraying rather than celebrity images. The biggest standout performance comes from Jackie Earle Haley,who is riveting as Rorschach both in and out of his mask.
Other good acting chops come from Jeffrey Dean Morgan,Billy Crudup as the seemingly all powerful but emotionally disconnected Dr. Manhattan and Patrick Wilson as the nebbish Nite Owl II. Malin Akerman does a good job as the second generation Silk Spectre but the actress who plays her mother/superhero predecessor(Carla Gugino,who also appeared in Sin City)at times packs more of an emotional punch in her much smaller role:
The major plot change from the original graphic novel is one that I won't spoil for those who want to discover it on their own,but I will say it doesn't damage the intended outcome of the story. If anything,it makes the plot line more linear for a conventional film audience and also doesn't dumb anything down. In my opinion,the switchover brings more of a personal edge to the final showdown.
Ultimately,Watchmen is an Either/Or film(either you love it or you don't)and while it may not satisfy everyone,no one can say that this wasn't a well made film of a hard to adapt beloved genre piece.
My only quibbles would go to some of the make-up effects for certain historical figures in the film(Nixon at one point was starting to look like a Spitting Image puppet) and a little more running time to add more of the in depth bits of the original story but all in all,Watchmen is an excellent film and one that I hopes opens doors for folks wanting to take more creative chances in Hollywood.
Since there won't be any follow-ups to Watchmen,the opportunities for newer ,riskier projects in the same vein are wide open. Until those come along,here are the Top Ten thing that the Watchmen can teach you about superhero life:
10) When starting out in the superhero business,a well chosen name works wonders:
9) Men get arrested, dogs get put down.
8) You know you have problems when the only person you can confide in about a personal crisis is an old archenemy.
7) The couple that fights crime together stays together:
6) When teleporting a friend to Mars,it's a good idea to have breathing air ready for her before she arrives.
5) It doesn't take a genius to see that the world has problems but it takes a room full of morons to think that they're small enough for them to handle.
4) When in jail with Rorschach,remember one thing-he's NOT locked in with you,you are locked in with HIM!
3) A good friend will let you know when you're being difficult:
2) Never compromise,even in the face of Armageddon:
1) If both of your movies are equal in awesomeness,there's no need to fight over which one has the cooler outsider:
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