I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Watchmen

tn_watchmenCOMIC CON EXCLUSIVE:

VERN HAS SEEN THE WATCHMEN DVD

(that came out last week)

My fellow Watchmaniacs: People like me and you, being huge comics book “geeks” and true fans for life, we could tell each other exactly where we were the first time we saw those historic Watchman comic strips in 1986, when they exploded onto the scene just like the explosion that happens at the end that Doctor Manhattan was blamed for or whatever it was that happened at the end. I remember LA Law had just debuted on TV, and Pinochet had escaped assassination in Chile. CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD was capturing the national consciousness. I was wearing an anti-Khadafi novelty t-shirt, listening to Falco on my Walkman tape and solving a Rubik’s cube when my eyes first fell upon its graphic novel cover at the graphic novel stand. And remember you were there too and we looked at each other like “uh huh” and we nodded because after seeing all those adventures that the Watchmen were having and everything, you knew this was history, this was the motherfuckin Hindenburg exploding into the moon on top of JFK’s motorcade. In cartoon terms it was Josie and the Pussycats arriving in the U.S., or Elvis Pres-stone from the waist up on Ed Sullirock. It was Garfield eating lasagna for the first time on the Motown 25th, that was the kind of impact it had. It was a major sea change, you could feel it in your blood, taste it in your bones. The Archie Comics building would be burned to the ground, its artists and writers hunted down like Nazis in South America. Batman would be over. Superman would be dead. X-Men would be forgotten. Ziggy would be slightly less popular although still generally respected. Watchmen proved once and for all that comics drawings and children’s super hero adventures had grown up. Because there’s a rape scene. But also because Watchmen is sophisticated storytelling for adults, with adult ideas, an adult point of view. And we appreciate that so much that 28 years later we’ll buy all the action figures, dolls and lunch pails.
watchmendolls
Nah, don’t be mad fellas, you know I’m just jerkin your chains. No disrespect intended. I love you all and honor your nerd heritage. But I read some of the reviews when this movie came out and they all started with 6 paragraphs of origin story explaining the same crap about how early they read the comic, how many times they read it, how it changed comics and their lives forever, and Time Magazine chose it as one of the top 100 novels of all time. (Interesting, because Time timemagMagazine also chose my book Seagalogy as one of David Cross’s 5 things that he writes blurbs about.) I don’t know why we always gotta go into our background and our bonafides when we review certain movies, but oh well. Their main point cannot be denied: the influence of Alan Moore’s Watchmen could never be blah blah blah etc. etc.

The WATCHMEN movie was examined cell-by-cell with a laser microscope on every other movie websight starting weeks before it came out (if not years), which is why I didn’t review it before – I didn’t know what to add. But I’ve gotten more requests to review this than practically any movie in my ten years of writing, and I aim to please. So if this review sucks it means I’m pandering. Sorry.

I probaly don’t gotta explain what WATCHMEN is, but I already wrote it up so it’s too late to stop me. WATCHMEN is an epic ensemble super hero movie. It takes place in an alternate 1985 where an American scientist was given super powers (and blue skin) in a lab accident. He was so powerful he won the Vietnam War, making Nixon so popular he’s still president. All the other super heroes have no powers, they’re weirdo vigilantes in costumes who know how to fight. But they’ve been outlawed (I’m not totally clear why). Everything is kind of different in this alternate history – super heroes are the biggest celebrities in the world, gangs have samurai hair cuts, Lee Iaccoca gets his head blown off. But some things are the same, for example the Cold War still exists, as does the song “99 Luft Balloons.”

The best part of the movie is the first 10 or 20 minutes. A gruff old man is attacked in his penthouse apartment and tossed through the window. The police are suspicious but it’s the mp_watchmenmasked vigilante who snoops around a little later that finds the secret compartment where the deceased keeps his super hero costume. It’s kind of like how you might worry that if you die your loved ones will find your porn stash, well this is kind of that way, you kick the bucket and then everybody’s gonna know you were the right wing super hero and CIA assassin known as The Comedian. Not the type of guy that a random burglar would be able to off, so it looks like somebody’s going after super heroes.

From here we go into an incredible opening credits montage where we seem to float through photos and footage showing this alternate history: the goofy early days of costumed super heroes punching out gimmicky villains, blue Dr. Manhattan in a suit shaking hands with JFK, the Comedian on the grassy knoll assassinating JFK. My favorite is a female super hero coming home from World War II, then grabbing a nurse and giving her a kiss. Don’t feel too empowered though because I think that same heroine and her lover are the ones murdered in a hate crime. You see the crime scene and they do such a good job of creating this world that it feels like an infamous tragedy you already knew about, like the Helter Skelter murders or something. And all this is set to “The Times They Are A Changing.”

The best character in the movie (and sort of the protagonist) is Rorschach, the one super hero who continues to operate illegally. He wears a fedora, trenchcoat and mask that’s an always changing rorschach blot. So if you’re fucked up you’re gonna see some fucked up shit when you look at his face. Rorschach seems to be a statement that to really be a masked vigilante you’d have to be a complete lunatic. He rants like Travis Bickle about liberals, whores and scum. His Bruce Wayne type alter ego is not a billionaire playboy, he’s a homeless street prophet. But you still kind of like him. His strength is complete dedication – he always brags that he never compromises. Also he’s a dirty street fighter, he owns a grappling hook gun and he knows a few parkour moves. So he’s as good as anybody to investigate why somebody is killing super heroes.

Rorschach’s former partner and sort of friend is Nite Owl, a rich gadget user like Batman. He wasn’t driven by family tragedy like Batman though, he’s basically a huge nerd who did it for fun and without it his life is empty. Then circumstances cause him and a gal called Silk Spectre to suit up and be super heroes again, and it’s kind of portrayed as a fetish. He actually can’t get it up until they have had the costumes on.

The other most memorable character is Dr. Manhattan, an animated muscular naked blue man controlled and distantly voiced by Billy Crudup. He can see the past and future at the same time, turn himself giant, split himself into separate bodies, cause people to explode. I guess he’s the opposite of Superman because instead of an alien who cares about humanity he’s a human who doesn’t. With his God-like perspective of the universe he ends up having all the warmth and charisma of HAL 9000. Appearing on a talk show he’s accused of causing cancer and defends himself by saying that living and dead bodies have the same number of cells. Not the best defense, in my opinion, or at least not the most endearing one.

The movie is long – about 3 hours in the director’s cut – and structured like a novel in that it will have sections that focus on one character or set of characters without worry about going back to the others until much later. For example, when Dr. Manhattan has a breakdown he doesn’t go to Reno to gamble, he goes to Mars to float around in a yoga pose and create flying crystal castles with his mind. This part is set to Philip Glass music. And there is little or no farting jokes in the movie.

That said, it’s not THE LIMITS OF CONTROL either, it’s pretty accessible. There’s some well-staged action here and there, a couple fights (maybe more kung-fu-movie style than some comics enthusiasts wished for) and some genuine badass moments involving Rorschach. My favorite part is when he gets caught and locked up. Under the mask he’s Jackie Earle Haley, that kid from BAD NEWS BEARS and DAMNATION ALLEY. He’s surrounded by criminals he put away, hungry to kill him, but after he dumps frying grease on a guy’s face and grunts, “You people don’t understand. I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with me!” it’s clear who’s in charge of the situation. He’s Miss Daisy, they’re driving.

The one character I didn’t like was this Ozymandias. He’s the super hero who went public, became a celebrity and multimillionaire businessman. I think Matthew Goode is a good actor, at least in the overlooked THE LOOKOUT. But here he’s pretty bad, overplaying the character’s prissy coldness. By context it seems like the character is supposed to be really charismatic, but he’s not, he’s completely unlikable. He also has the worst costume, looking straight out of BATMAN AND ROBIN. He gets less screen time than the others so you don’t really know what his deal is. This is a major flaw in the telling of the story, which seems to become more cluttered and less confident in the last part. It has the feeling of somebody trying to adapt something that’s too big and complex to fit in a movie.

But when it’s working it’s really working, so I enjoyed it. It’s kind of like watching a guy carry a ten foot tall stack of plates, or Will Smith trying to play Mohammed Ali. You know he’s not gonna pull it off entirely, but you’re impressed by how close he got.

The world of the movie surrounds you, it’s packed with detail, and it’s not one you’ve seen before. It’s not just BLADE RUNNER with super heroes. It’s 1985 New York remixed. And the characters who inhabit the world are interesting. Malin Akerman, the new-model Cameron Diaz who plays Silk Spectre, is occasionally iffy, and Carla (for God’s sake where is KAREN SISCO on DVD?) Gugino sometimes overplays her old lady character. But for the most part the acting is good, which is important because for a movie so full of effects and artifice it really is about the characters.

In my review of 300 I said the verdict was still out on Zack Snyder. I was suspicious that he might be some kind of a lightweight because his movies to that point (300 and DAWN OF THE DEAD remake) were fun but all surface. It seemed kind of odd to me that he could make those movies without seeming to think at all about their subtext.

I’m not sure how much WATCHMEN proves, because the ideas in it from what I understand come directly from the comic. And I don’t want to give him too much credit for just being a literalist. But this does improve my opinion of him, he’s no dummy. To adapt the comic in this way was wise, there would’ve been a million ways to make it more like a normal super hero movie, or update it to 2009, that would’ve been stupid. He did a good job and he’s much closer to earning that “from visionary director of” line that was on the trailer and poster.

I guess the director’s cut on DVD is 24 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. I didn’t notice all of it but I think this is the rare case where he had to cut it down to release in theaters and the longer really is the better cut. These days most of the “uncut” DVDs are a marketing gimmick where they put in stuff they should’ve left out. This one explains the mystery a little better and shows a little more reminiscing of the old days and makes more reason for the old Nite Owl to be in the story. Please note though – there’s been a bunch of hype about the extras, well, that’s the Blu-ray. I just saw the DVD which has no commentary and sorry but I did not enjoy the featurette on there. If I wanted to know how important the comic book was I would re-read the beginning part of this review.

There was some talk about this movie being a failure because it cost a ton of money to make and only made 1.3 tons back, but what the hell did you expect? This is not SPIDER-MAN or IRON MAN. It’s a 2 1/2 hour R-rated movie about super heroes dealing with issues such as “my boyfriend doesn’t understand why it’s bad that he split apart and was working in the lab while having sex with me” and “my mom is acting weird because the guy who tried to rape her died.” The premise is so complex they didn’t try to explain it in the trailers, and I don’t think they even showed you Nixon or any period detail. It’s not the easiest movie to market. To me it’s amazing – in a good way – that this movie even got made, let alone didn’t sink an entire studio. If it made a profit of ten dollars I’m impressed and it was all worth it. It was a good way for a bunch of people to spend several years. It put food on their tables and a unique movie on our screens.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 26th, 2009 at 1:45 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

213 Responses to “Watchmen”

  1. caruso_stalker217

    July 26th, 2009 at 2:06 am

    “If I wanted to know how important the comic book was I would re-read the beginning part of this review.”

    Good stuff, Vern.

  2. I felt that the movie left out much of the fart humor that was prevalent in the comic. I hope the director’s cut addresses this.

  3. Kevin Holsinger

    July 26th, 2009 at 4:09 am

    Good morning, Vern.

    Thanks for finally reviewing this.

    Items:

    1. Great opening for the review.
    2. In the comic, superheroes are only outlawed if they don’t work for the government. Sort of an “if I can’t have you, nobody can” scenario on a larger scale.
    3. Ozymandias, in the comic, is basically the superhero equivalent of Oprah. Self-help guru. Rich. Famous. Beloved. For whatever reason, the movie made him grimmer.
    4. The “Batman and Robin” costume was deliberate on the director’s part. Can’t recall what he was trying to accomplish with it, though.
    5. In the comic, Ozymandias gets virtually no scenes until he’s revealed as the villain. Then he goes off on the longest monologue I’ve ever seen in a comic. There was no way to pack it into the movie.
    6. Am I the only one who thought Jackie Earle Haley looked like Clint Eastwood at times? The entire time Rorschach was in prison, I couldn’t stop staring at his squinting eyes and thinking of Mr. Eastwood.

  4. Yeah it’s meant to be that vigilantes were outlawed because all the police went on strike (the niteowl/comedian scene with the protesters is because of that). Though I can see how you missed it, it was a bit too under explained on that point.

    Anyway, 2 points I really agree with you on Vern are:

    “You know he’s not gonna pull it off entirely, but you’re impressed by how close he got.”

    How I felt about a lot of it. There are problems, particularly with how Ozy is portrayed and Malin Akerman’s meh performance. And some of the plot elements are a little awkwardly developed. But there’s so much good stuff in it and it’s such a complex film (not just because of plot structure, but because it’s a multi-million pound film about superheroes with real fucked up problems) to put on screen that I’m damn impressed with what they managed. Also when it’s working, it’s really working.

    “To me it’s amazing – in a good way – that this movie even got made, let alone didn’t sink an entire studio. If it made a profit of ten dollars I’m impressed and it was all worth it. It was a good way for a bunch of people to spend several years. It put food on their tables and a unique movie on our screens.”

    This. This is what fucking amazes me. This film cost a lot, this is a proper “big film”, it’s got a (slightly cheaper) blockbuster amount of money behind it and it’s a god damn adult film that doesn’t pander, doesn’t try and over explain points, that takes some thought in its presentation and its themes. I really, really don’t think we’re going to see a film like this with that much money behind it for a long long time.

    Oh also, gotta disagree with those guys who were complaining that there was too much action in it. People were complaining that “oh they just put a load of uneeded kewl moments in the film”. Why can’t a film have “kewl” action moments and a deep plot? Since when have they been mutually exclusive?

  5. Great opening paragraph!

    I think the film a failed adaptation, if not the fiasko it could have been, mostly because:

    1) Zack Snyder knows no restraint. Not only did he put in every obvious musical cue he could find (only one really worked – all along the watchtower, and one sort of – the opening), he had to give us badass action sequences that defy the idea of these people actually being just normal people with masks. Plus, the over-the-top violence may be intentionally harsh, but it’s also choreographed to be cool and not a turn-off, again not really in line with the comics. Everything has to be on the biggest scale, where the comic also delves into “normal people’s” lives, and of course, when Rorschach bites it, we get the “nooo!” to rival Star Wars Episode III. No subtlety, no quiet moments, nothing.

    2) The chapters and the disjointed storytelling. It owes to the comic being published in single issues, where “this issue, we focus on Doc Manhattan” is perfectly all right, but in a movie I didn’t think it really worked. To me, you would have had to restructure the story much more.

    3) Akerman and Goode – or rather, their characters. I’m not sure whom to fault here, but these characters are much less fascinating to me. With Ozymandias, that’s a general problem of the film, and with Silk Spectre, I just don’t like that it’s the woman who loses her spunk as it smacks of mysoginy, something the director of 300 surely cannot be guilty of.

    4) This, however, is probably the biggest problem. When Watchmen appeared in comics, it (and Dark Knight) broke tradition. Having “heroes” that are really just fetishists, Travis Bickles, careless deities or brutal motherfuckers was different. Having one of the heroes be the villain, and the villain saving the world no less, was different. Having the other heroes killing one of their own in the end was harsh. Nowadays, we already have all those antihero comic book movies. Nobody will bat an eye at the idea of Ozymandias betraying “his own”.

    All this leads, to me, to a loss of necessary subtlety. In the comic, Rorschach is the scariest motherfucker because he *is* a Right-Wing-Authoritarians wet dream, but the progressive is the mass murderer, and you get to feel that murder much more than in the clean images Snyder gives us (for once). And when Rorschach’s journal crops up in the end, at least I feel very conflicted, because nuclear war has been prevented, but through a terrible crime. Would it be a good thing to uncover that crime? Is the maniac Rorschach actually right here? Is Ozymandias? Do you think about that after the movie? I don’t think so.

    The Tales of the Black Freighter, however, I can take or leave.

  6. Oh, and I agree that I won’t complain to much. Compared to Transformers, it is a miracle this thing got on screen, and it is entertaining and provoking enough to watch and re-watch.

  7. Wonderful review, wonderful movie

  8. For about and hour and a half of Watchmen, I was pretty enthralled. It’s a great-looking movie, stuffed with hypnotic images and dynamic filmmaking. Then it just went on…and on…and on…past the point where nothing the movie could possibly do to wrap itself up could satisfy me. I don’t really blame Snyder, though. I didn’t really like the book either. Maybe if I’d read it when it came out instead of 15 years later when whiny superheros who did no good for anybody at any point were commonplace, it might have been different, but I’ve always found Watchmen to be a fascinating world full of interesting ideas packed into a story that went nowhere and populated by characters that I didn’t give two shits about. The only character who’s the least bit interesting is Rorschach, and surprise surprise, he’s the only one who isn’t sitting on his ass for 90% of the story. The rest just hang around, moping over their wasted youth or limp dick or whatever. They’re all like, “Man, I hear the world’s gonna end. I wish I knew kung-fu or had a spaceship full of missiles or knew a big blue all-powerful being or something so I could do something about it. But I don’t. Oh well. Back to brooding.” Maybe if they’d kept the outrageous original ending it might have been different. Sure, the movie ending made more sense, but I’ve seen New York blown up before. It’s no big deal. I’ve never seen it crushed under a giant squid, though. That’s the kind of audaciousness that would have made me leave the theater smiling.

    Perhaps the director’s cut will be better if watched in smaller chunks, like a miniseries, so that fatigue, impatience, and apathy don’t set in.

    Also, “I’m Miss Daisy, you’re driving” just became my knew catchphrase.

  9. “Knew?” God, I hate myself!

  10. I know I’m going to take flack for this, but I grew up on comics in the 80’s (that’s not what I’m going to take flack for) and I gotta say I was never a big fan of WATCHMEN. There I said it. I’ve been holding that in for a long time what with Rolling Stone saying it was an incredible literary masterpiece. I got what WATCHMEN was saying but truthfully if you want to talk earthshattering, in my own world and opinion, I would have to say Frank Miller, again for me, owned the 80’s. THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and YEAR ONE were my personal taste.

    Sorry. Anyone else think WATCHMEN was a tad over-rated. I mean it had it’s moments, but I never got the prestige and worship it’s received. For me, I prefer Alan Moore’s LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN books over it.

  11. Nick, you’re singing my song. I’ll take Miller over Moore anyday. Miller packs a lot of ideas into his stuff, but first and foremost he wants to get your blood pumping. Nine times out of ten, Moore’s cerebral approach just leaves me cold. I get that his style must have seemed like a big deal back when the average line of comics dialogue was “Must…stop…photon ray!” but Neil Gaiman and others have since proved that you can have intellectual comic books that still manage to engage on an emotional level.

  12. I like Goode in this movie. In the comic, Ozymandias was written as a perfect pretty boy with a smug smile on his face about how smart he is. Goode gave the character a layer of sadness that wasn’t there, at least not until that final scene. I like that he plays the character as someone who is completely bored by all the short sighted stooges he has to deal with on a daily basis, someone who is as disconnected from the human race as Manhattan in certain ways.

  13. I liked the comic (although I don’t generally read comics in general, so I have no idea about the last 15 years of these things or whatever), and I thought this was about as faithful as one could reasonably expect, but I think that resulted in the film being a bit of a lifeless museum piece.

    I liked the opening too, and that actually displayed some creative interpretation that was mostly missing from the rest of the film. Maybe that was to play it safe, because trying to be creative with something like this can just as easily result in making something terrible as something great, and I do think what they actually made is a solid adaptation, but it seems to be at the expense of any potential greatness. A lot of people may dislike Starship Troopers and how much it deviates from the book, but at least it has its own spark, and I’d rather have two works with ambitions of greatness than one ambitious work and one facsimile of the ambitious work.

    This also ties into my speculation that Zack Snyder is a good technical director, but he doesn’t have much in the way of an imagination. Not just in terms of what I said above, which could happen to anyone taking on such a big project with a fervent fanbase of the source material, but also the obvious musical cues and the the fight scenes. For the most part, I didn’t think any of that was bad, just uninspired.

    So at least there is a discussion to be had on the film, but I’ve really only thought about that adaptation because I didn’t really feel emotionally invested in the film itself. Anyway, I agree with almost everyone that Jackie Earle Haley was pretty great.

  14. Mr Majestyk: It’s not a giant squid. It’s a giant squid with a pussy for a mouth.

  15. “He’s Miss Daisy. They’re driving.”

    Priceless.

  16. Even better. That would have given people something else to talk about besides Dr. Manhattan’s big blue dick (which is an AICN screen name just waiting to happen, if it hasn’t already).

  17. Patrick, gotta take issue with a couple of your points as there ones that have cropped up elsewhere:

    “he had to give us badass action sequences that defy the idea of these people actually being just normal people with masks.”

    This can easily become a never ending circular argument so i’ll try and not lead it down that path but, what do you consider a “normal person”? And how “normal” were they in the comic? Yes the film does show them being more kung-fuey, but I don’t think anymore than the comic ever implied. Whilst they are meant to be normal people in some way, they’ve also been genuinly fighting crime and making a big impact on it. They wouldn’t manage that without actually having some decent fighting ability. The idea of Nite owl really being a chubby geek who plays dress up, whilst also claiming that he really made an impact on crime that the police would go on strike, is a bit of a conflict, you have to draw the line in between somewhere. The film may have been nearer the “well trained martial artist” end of the spectrum, but I don’t think it pushes itself too far, or more than is believable or taken from the comic.

    Look at some of the stuff: Rorscharch not being injured from a second story drop, ozzy catching a bullet, psychics. All of those came from the comic and demonstrate the characters being rather far into the “more than just normal” catagory. The most ridiculous of which, psychics, didn’t actually make it into the film.

    “Plus, the over-the-top violence may be intentionally harsh, but it’s also choreographed to be cool and not a turn-off, again not really in line with the comics.”

    You see I thought it was both a turn-on (erm, not in a sexual way) and a turn-off, succesfully and purposefully. If being a superhero is generally a bit shit, was dangerous, didn’t really do much to help and most of the public turned on them, we have little reason to see why they would want to become a hero. The fight scenes being “cool” gives that back, we see the attraction to being a superhero that Niteowl does. Look at niteowls and silk spectre’s little smile at each other in the prison before the fight. They’re enjoying it. So are we, at least for a little while.

    Yet then we also have this fairly extreme realism to the violence. They do all the cool fighting you get in other superhero films, but at the end of it we have criminals with broken bones and bleeding bodies. We have Manhattan blowing someone up.

    So for me it worked because it had both of these aspects to it. It was “cool” yet gruesome. There was an attraction to what they could do, yet also disgust at there rather blase attitude towards it. In the DC there’s a moment where NO beats up a knothead after he finds out about Hollis Mason’s death. What could be a moment of “yeah beat up that dude we’re angry about Mason’s death” for the audience, is instead quite horribly depicted with the knothead’s mouth filling with blood and broken teeth.

    “Everything has to be on the biggest scale, where the comic also delves into “normal people’s” lives, and of course, when Rorschach bites it, we get the “nooo!” to rival Star Wars Episode III. No subtlety, no quiet moments, nothing.”

    Niteowl, being the most “normal” of the superheroes means he was always going to be the audience insert character in some way, a proxy for our own emotions. Whilst the “nooo” is a little excessive and cringe-y, and then his assault on Ozzy could be seen as some attempt to give a “good guys win” ending, I saw it more as demonstrating Niteowl’s emasculation and impotence in the situation, the audience’s own impotence.

    Putting on the suit was only ever a short term solution to his down trodden, droopy dog personality. This event has only thrown everything he’s just done in the last hour of the film back in his face. It was fruitless. After what Ozzy has done the audience (in theory) would be angry at him and want some retaliation, we don’t want to see him get away with it. Niteowl attacking him is that attempt at retaliation. But it’s all for nothing, he can beat him all he want, he can ask him to fight back all he want, but it’s too late. Niteowl can’t prove his masculinity, he can’t reclaim any power in the situation through violence as Ozzy has beaten in every way possible. It’s the same thing he did to the knothead after finding out about Mason’s death. He can beat the knothead/ozzy all he wants, but mason/millions of NYers are still dead.

  18. Great review and intro Vern, but “there’s a rape scene” is a common remark about the movie that bugs me because y’know, it was foiled. So it was more a scene with attempted rape, and I think that’s pretty clear, but people keep saying Silk Spectre I was raped in the movie, if not then than later, conceiving Laurie, and I don’t get why people interpret it that way. Or is just attempted rape enough to classify it as a “rape scene”? Because with that logic, Back to the Future had a rape scene. Though hang on…that came out a year before the Watchmen comic…and featured a Doctor with a german original name (Von Braun) who could manipulate time…
    Huh.
    Anyway, I loved the movie, and I get that there’s people who think it’s too literal, but you just know it’s either too literal, or it’s not literal enough. There was plenty of moaning about the alternate plan Ozy had from the comic before the film even came out after all, so Snyder couldn’t have won either way. I also had a bit of a problem with Dan and Laurie busting out their old martial arts skills after years of not practising and Dan getting fatter. And the music was a bit distracting, but I expect after I’ve seen the film a few more times it won’t be as jarring. Oh, and they should have kept the line at the end about it being Robert Redford running for President instead of Reagan.

  19. No offense guys, but WATCHMEN proves that every good or intriguing idea in Zach Snyder’s movies don’t come from him at all, but from the source novelist or scriptwriter or whatever.

    Whenever he does to try to go creative or outside the brainfart of the author…he falls flat. Remember that bullshit domestic subplot in 300? Can’t blame Frank THE SPIRIT Miller for that dog.

    So if anything in WATCHMEN outside of the actors works…its because it was Moore. Vern, you’re fair about that which I appreciate…because it seems if you read the Internet at AICN and CHUD, Snyder is on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, about ready to touch God.

    Though these defenses I’ve read so far: “It comes close,” “I like the effort”, “flawed but with fortune,” “its entertaining”….sounds like the sort of defensive argumentation I’ve heard on a many hyped up movie over the years that didn’t pan out. The Phantom Menace, those Matrix sequels, any new Bay/Emmerich movie…

    Then cue 5 years later, after the healing process has ended and the hoopla died off, and alot of those same folks then claim they never liked those titles in the first place.

    Now I don’t know if it would have worked, but I would have loved to see Paul Greengrass’ WATCHMEN have been made, if at the least because he at least exhibits some sort of concious intelligence and something worth saying beyond slow motion, CGI, green screen, and the Nerd hype machine failing at the box-office.

    Also, being a good filmmaker helps too.

  20. I liked the comic but the ending was just idiotic. There had to be a better way to end the story, and while the movie’s version was better it still wasn’t great.

    Almost every reviewer agrees that the opening sequence is great, fun, interesting, really sets the tone, etc. Way to phone it in, Vern. But they are all right, it is perfect.

    In the comic Nite Owl annoyed the crap out of me. I was prepared to be annoyed by him in the movie too, but for some reason his character was much better. I felt sorry for him and liked him as opposed to wishing he would fall off a bridge.

    At first I found Dr. Manhattan’s voice to be a little jarring – kind of wimpy and soft for such an imposing figure. But after a while I got used to it and it actually kind of fit. Manhattan isn’t a badass. He’s a scientist.

    I thought the movie did a good job editing the comic down to movie length, which is always a huge problem with “novel-length” material. And they actually did a few things better than the comic in my opinion. Bravo.

  21. RRA – I gotta kind of disagree with you though because everybody I’ve talked to agrees that the opening credits are the best part of WATCHMEN and from what I can understand those are the only part that were extrapolated from the comic instead of translated directly.

    And a much stronger argument is his DAWN OF THE DEAD. As you know it always bothered me that he dropped the substance of the original, and I will always prefer the overwhelming dread of endless hordes of easily killable slow zombies to the fierce deadliness of sprinting zombies. But it’s the fact that he abandoned the original and did his own thing, making it an action movie, that made it fun. I mean, I went to that movie positive that I was gonna want to burn down buildings and roll cars afterwards. I went out with a big smile on my face. I don’t think there’s any chance that if he did a more straight up facsimile type of remake that I would still have a fondness for it. It’s kind of weird actually that his two comics movies are so literal but his remake wasn’t at all.

    But I agree, no Sistine Chapel. I think he’s very talented on a technical level and hopefully his brains will catch up with that. We’ll see.

    As for the “I like the effort” part, you may be right but I’m innocent on that one, because I still to this day like the Star Warses and Matrixes as flawed but interesting messes and I never liked the Emmerichs or Bays. So I am consistent. (or maybe that’s bad because it means I don’t grow as a person.)

  22. Man, am I the only guy who doesn’t mind “noooooo!!!”s in movies? If one of my best friends killed another one of my best friends in front of me, i’d probably yell that too. When did “nooo!” become socially unacceptable? Episode III?

    Anyways, all my friends who didn’t read the comic hated this movie, and i can understand their criticisms – the length, the lack of emotional connection, the excessive gore, etc.. Having read the comic a few years back, I thought it was about as good as an adaptation you could wish for – all the stuff i didn’t like – the bullshit with the squid, the black freighter stuff, the endless exposition, etc.. was streamlined or changed all for the better. Call me a simpleton, but I liked the added fights (especially the handicap match at the end), i liked ozy’s futile beating (catch 42’s analysis says it best), I thought a couple of scenes (Dr. Manhattan’s origin story, opening credits) are instant classics. Sure, it’s no Dark Knight, but i’d actually prefer something like Watchmen (slightly) over the great-but-still-generic Iron Man. And re: the people bitching about all the cut stuff (Tales from the Black Freighter not being integrated, Hollis Mason’s role being reduced, ec..) – I’m sure Episode I would have made more sense and been a richer experience with a deeper exploration of the tariffs and trade routes and votes of no confidence, but I sure as fuck wouldn’t want to see any of it in a movie.

  23. Good point , Vern . When the comics came out , I was a kid , and I obviously didn’t understand a single word of Watchmen. At the time I was reading Iron Man and Wolverine , I wanted action and entertainment. I was able to read it again years later , and finally understand it , and I was ,too , in love with the world and the detail created by Moore. I mean , an alternate reality where Nixon is still president , an alternate Vietnam and the cold war still in full swing? This is a setting we don’t see often. Even a non-superhero movie with this background seems like a good bet. I liked the movie , but I’m okay with the changes . In my opinion , however , the movie was less powerful because we already have comic book movies with serious issues , like the X-men. The deconstruction of the super hero character has already started in the movies , with a wider audience than comics. Even fucking Hancock can be considered part of this process. Look at Batman/Burton and Batman/Nolan , the first is clearly a product of the old “superhero=fun+silly” mentality , the second is a serious movie with a completely different approach . In the comics world it took YEARS to arrive at this different approach , from , what? , 1938/1939? And I , too , am happy to see this movie in theaters , I was actually expecting a BOMB of Ishtar proportions , but that didn’t happen. It’s true , Watchmen was only a small success , but THANK GOD for that , can you imagine a fourth sequel?

  24. Vern – No offense, but when an auteur’s “creative” best is summed up as the opening credits….I think that helps my argument. And mate I hate to pull this card on you because I greatly respect your work but…

    Remember before March 2003, most Americans polled thought invading Iraq was a terrific idea? Everyone is guilty, including me, of using the “Majority Agrees” tactic but it aint bulletproof.

    And really, why do filmmakers (even the good ones) insist on the montage device to denote the passage of time? It’s a cheap quick way, and shit even the great David Fincher did that on ZODIAC (Director’s Cut) and it’s usually unnecessary.

    Not the same thing, but you ever see Norman Jewison’s original ROLLERBALL?

    The opening is brilliant, smart, and actually had the gall to think some of its viewers could wipe their own ass. OMG. I mean we begin by watching this one game of Rollerball, and without exposition or montage or whatever bullshit, we quickly figure out: (1) This aint the present, but future since these teams seem to represent Corporate Nations, (2) Also no Roller Derby/Football bastard child yet widely popular, (3) We also figure out the basic flow and rules of this fictional game…mostly from watching Caan kicking ass and taking names.

    No I’m not saying WATCHMEN should have been like this, but give the book credit: By reading it and noticing in the background and dialoguethat Nixon is still President and that we won Vietnam, that maybe…just maaaaaaybe…this aint he 1985 we remember. Instead of RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART 2 we get NYC BLOOD BATH PART 1.

    Of course many won’t agree with these sentiments, and well…why should they have to if they don’t want to?

    In short Vern, alot of your review I agreed with, especially with the acting that works and…well, doesn’t. And maybe you’re the best sort to review the movie since you have no emotional ties to the book or frankly give a shit about the faithfulness that us nerds tend to get all bitchy over. So no bad blood man, just…slight disagreement. Nothing more.

    I can just imagine you reviewing David Lynch’s bomb DUNE without having read that terrific intelligent thoughtful novel, and having somewhat of an idea of what the fuck is going on with Lynch’s DUNE…because the movie aint gonna help ya.

  25. neal2zod – Because that Nooooo! made me laugh in the theatre? It’s like one of those comical melodramatic over-the-top cornball NOOOOOOO! that SOUTH PARK (and everyone for that matter) likes to piss on.

    Of course a different subjective natural stimuli reaction to that moment, but I don’t believe Snyder intended me to laugh. I think he wanted me to feel bad. Maybe.

  26. Vern: The opening credits were, afaik, done by a different company (they were the first to leak the credits onto the internet) and I have so far understood this to mean that they weren’t done by Snyder, at all. Am I wrong?

    RRA: I agree that Watchmen will probably not be a classic 5 or 10 years from now; I think it’s about par with Dark Knight, and a lesser film than Iron Man.

    Catch42: A solid defense of these points. I still sort of disagree about the violence, which may be a part of the moviegoing experience, because when you have the audience holler at spurting blood and broken bones, it doesn’t come off as a turn-off. Also, the moment Laurie and Dan have when their alley fight is over also suggests they enjoyed it, and that one is brutal!

    As to superhero powers: I agree that that’s a matter of degrees, and it’s certainly not like there was the Hulk on screen.

  27. Thanks Vern, Great review.

    Ozy was the single biggest flaw for me. He is clearly the culprit from the outset. My beloved hasn’t read any comics, ever – and she rumbled him pretty quickly and was shocked that it was supposed to be a twist. He is supposed to be the smartest, most attractive and successful man on Earth. He’s Tom Cruise x Arnie – and Richard Branson? … He fucked him.

    I think they went in completely the wrong direction with him and it scuppers the movie. Whenever he should have been warm, he was snide – when he should have been jovial, he was sarcastic. And his costume (as you point out) was sub Meteor Man. You are pretty much the only reviewer I’ve read who seems to recognise the issue – and to correctly understand it as a flaw in story-telling. I’m sure Goode can act – but either every choice he made was wrong and Zach couldn’t see it, or (much more likely) he was completeley misdirected.

    But there is so much good stuff in there too. But I think it suffers from Snyder’s direction in the same way that 300 does. He seems to know the stuff is good – but he doesn’t necessarily know why – so whenever he has to add, edit or navigate complex story issues (as opposed to stylistic issues – which, save perhaps for tone in some instances, he pretty much nails) he causes more problems than he solves. And I don’t just mean the climax – take the fights, for example. It’s not just that they are kung fu ish – they appear superhuman at times, and it’s just confusing in the world that we have been presented with. Also, Rorshach is supposed to be the crazy, uncompromising killer vigilante – but we see Spectre and Owl kill the fuck (not just lay a beating on) a bunch of punks, with glee.

    It’s a great comic. Could have been a great mini series. But a film adaptation was doomed to only limited success, I guess. The only way to do it, as a film, would have been Rorshach:The Movie. But then you would have to lose so much that fans would have cried bloody murder. However, you could make a really tight, emotionally satisfying film just following his story and revealing the world though his investigation, apparent faliure and ulimate (sort of) triumph.

    Anyway – great work Vern – and well done on producing anything that that (very talented and funny) misery guts Cross could bring himself to be positive about.

  28. Patrick –

    That’s cool, the whole issue of the depiction of violence in films, and whether it’s being filmed in a manner that is meant to entertain us or disgust is so fraught with “oh but what if you looked at it this way?” back and forth discussions, especially now that it’s not just the old exploitation films that use gore as a point of entertainment in films.

    It reminds me of Roger Ebert’s review of “I spit on your grave”. He was disgusted with it because he thought the rape scenes were exploitative and there only to entertain a few sick people. But when I watched it I didn’t think it was shot in a way to eroticise the rape, there seemed to be several victim POV shots, surely not a turn on. But some would suggest that just by filming it was, in some manner, presenting it for entertainment value.

    But anway, back to watchmen, I won’t deny that some of my interpretations of certain events may have never been thought about or intended by Snyder, but then I guess that’s how all art is. I certainly don’t believe that every deep and meaningful point drawn out of the Watchmen comic was intended by Alan Moore.

  29. Oh and was anyone else depressed by how many people (mostly Americans, sorry guys) were disgusted with how much Manhattan penis was on show? They seem obsessed. Before I saw the film the way they talked about it I was expecting 120 minutes of a close up on a hard blue cock, not the brief 2 or 3 shots of it. it’s bizarre and a little sad how distracted and offended by it many Americans were. (I really don’t mean it as a jab, but i didn’t read any complaints about it from the UK presses)

  30. So Vern…would you ever consider reading the comic? Come on, man. I’ve been trying to get you to read comics for years!

  31. Kevin Holsinger

    July 26th, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    RRA,
    I’ve read the script they were planning to use for Mr. Greengrass’ film (the 2003 script available at http://www.watchmencomicmovie.com), and the only major changes from the Snyder version are that that China is one of the countries about to start World War 3, and Ozymandias uses a solar weapon to fry New York City.

    So while different directors would have given different styles for the movie, the substance (and any complaints one might have about it) would be pretty much the same.

  32. I also read an interview with Snyder where he talked about how coming on the project gave him access to all the drafts for the movie, and he says the first draft ever for the movie gave Rorschach…a love interest. That would have been painfull.

  33. I’m still torn up about this movie because I like a lot of it a whole fucking lot, but at the end it just kind of collapses. It’s like 3/4ths of a truly great movie (and not just according to runtime.)

    I appreciate Snyder’s effort but to me his apparent disinterest in Ozy and Laurie undermines the moral ambivalence of the book and makes it a whole lot less interesting. Most of the same shit is there, but you just dont seem to get the same kind of attention and affection that he gives to Rorsarch and the Comedian (and to some extent, Manhattan). Ultimately, I think Snyder kind of sides with those characters, while sort of disliking Dan, Ozy, and Laurie — its just the sense I get from the little edits he made to the story and the extent to which he seems to have gotten good performances out of some actors but not others.

  34. Christian Brimo

    July 26th, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    “But when it’s working it’s really working, so I enjoyed it. It’s kind of like watching a guy carry a ten foot tall stack of plates, or Will Smith trying to play Mohammed Ali. You know he’s not gonna pull it off entirely, but you’re impressed by how close he got.”

    Yeah thats how I felt. I mean i’m a huge fan of the comic so i’m mostly grateful that Snyder didn’t fuck it up

  35. So nice to see a discussion of this movie that hasn’t descended into a Snyder witch hunt or purist vs populist flame wars. You guys have some really astute opinions and perspectives on the film, great to read.

    I read the Greengrass script too. I thought it was a bit tighter than what we ended up with – but not necessarily better.

    So, how much new stuff is going to be this director’s cut/spesh edition?

  36. Okay, I am one of the guys complaining about the action in this film. Not the amount, but the style. Not that they do kung-fu a bit. I’m not one of these racist assholes who thinks you have to be Asian in order to swing a kick or jump off something. No, my problem was that the action made the characters out to be absurdly superhuman. You see them get their heads smashed through granite counters and come up with only a bloody nose. You see them kick each other twenty feet through the air with one landing head-first on a marble tile and shattering it only to pop back up for more fighting. To me, this story was about just how human these characters were. They were regular people who just liked dressing up. This approach to the aciton made them superhuman.

    I also fucking hated the use of music. It’s the worst outbreak of Cameron Crowe Disease that I’ve seen in a while. Holy shit, just let your actors sell the moments. Trust your script and your visuals. I’d start to get into some scene and then some really well known song would start blarring in my ear and I’d just start thinking about Simon & Garfunkel or Nena or whatever.

    I only saw the theatrical cut of this in the theatres. For me it kinda hit dead-centre. This is a movie for me where the stuff I admire stacked up evenly with the annoying shit. Maybe the director’s cut would give it enough of a nudge to boost it from neutral to “okay”. But I’m starting to think life might just be too short to investigate that.

  37. Thank you for not mentioning the blue penis, Vern. I’m sure it’ll get (or has been) mentioned in the comments—possibly as a slam on the movie, though the average Vern commenter is above such things in my opinion—but you neglected to in your review.

  38. Wolfie — yeah, the action was a mood-killer for me too. The cool thing about “Watchmen” is that it takes the superhero conceit and puts in in a (more) real world. Not completely realistic, but still, I think it kinda defeats the purpose of the concept to actually have the superheros be so cartoonishly powerful (in fact, my friends who saw this with me assumed that ALL the heros had superpowers, based on how they fought, and that Dr. M was just more powerful). It actually isn’t just the fighting, its the grandiosity of everything. The movie didn’t need to cost this much — in fact, I would argue that they might have done better with a smaller budget and a more intimate feel. Like when Rorsarch leaves the comedian’s apartment at the beginning, there’s this huge CG zoom out… and why? What does that huge effects shot add to the thing, other than making it seem shiny and cartoony?

    And yeah, the music is just cheesy as can be (although for whatever reason, although “Times…” is absolutely the most cliche’d choice for that intro, it actually really elevates that opening sequence to a classic — got no idea why, I think maybe its just the use of such an iconic song juxtaposed with pictures which are clearly so iconic to this universe.) but every other pop song is just a lead weight on the thing, ranging from lame to outright embarrassing.

    However, if I were you I’d take a look at the thing again. For every thing it fumbles, it gets some things really right. And it is absolutely unique — even if it doesn’t have quite the depth it needs, it still is a pretty wild experience.
    However —

  39. RRA – hey bud, not fair to use that Iraq thing on me. I wasn’t saying “lots of people like the opening credits, so they must be right.” I was saying “hey, we all agree that the credits were the best part, right? And if that’s the one part that was original, doesn’t that mean that he has an imagination, he just didn’t use it enough on this movie?”

    the music – I forgot to mention it in the review but I guess I’m in the minority on that one. Some were a little goofy but overall I thought the effect of a super hero movie with period songs was really great. We’ve seen the all orchestral ones and the compilation of random popular bands (BATMAN FOREVER, DAREDEVIL) but never a super hero movie with Simon and Garfunkel. I dug that.

    By the way, where was Nina Simone? I can’t remember her being at least on the director’s cut that I just saw.

    blue penis – weirdly I don’t remember seeing much of it on the DVD. I guess my screen is too small.

    alley fight – in the director’s cut Laurie gets really disturbed afterwards and goes home. And later there’s a scene where Dan goes nuts on a guy in a bar because Hollis Mason was murdered, and Rorschach has to talk him down. I think the violence in the alley fight is deliberately showing that although Rorschach is the crazy one and Nite Owl is the sane one they each have a little of both in them.

  40. Kevin Holsinger – Alright, thanks for the link mate. I’ll read it later this week, but in terms of filmatic execution…..Greengrass and Snyder are as different as night and day. Of course I’m sure this means Shakey Cam, a trade-off for Snyder (and many of his generation’s) abuse of the slow motion.

    Or maybe Greengrass’ WATCHMEN wouldn’t have been that much different. Who knows?

  41. I didn’t care for the action either, but not just for the reasons others have listed. I agree with the complaints Mr. Subtlety, Wolfgang and other have brought up, but my main beef (and I’m not sure that many will agree with me here) is that I just don’t like the way that Snyder directs action sequences. Didn’t like it in DAWN OF THE DEAD, mostly didn’t like it in 300, and didn’t like it in WATCHMEN.

    His action scenes are stylized to a degree that I don’t think they function as action. In fact, I’m not sure what they accomplish except that some individual shots look pretty. I especially reject his near-fetishistic over-reliance on slow motion, which I feel works contrary to building any sense of kinetic energy. I know a lot of people think the slo-mo looks cool; I find it grows tiresome fast.

    I also find a certain cognitive dissonance between how cartoonish his action is, with how violent/serious it is portrayed. Maybe I’m misunderstanding Snyder’s intentions, but my sense was that the action in 300 and WATCHMEN was supposed to feel somewhat brutal. Yet the graphicness does not mesh with the fantastical elements, I don’t feel the pain when the blows are being exchanged by two people who can float weightlessly through the air and effortlessly smash each others’ heads through marble counter tops without their heads cracking open. I mean, the shit that goes down in WATCHMEN would kill Wile E. Coyote, I kept expecting someone to turn into an according or have birds fly around their head or something. You have to pick either brutal or silly, you can’t have it both ways.

    I know that 99% of action scenes in all movies are inherently unrealistic, but at least when Jason Bourne punches a dude in the face, I get the sense that it hurt the other guy.

    Snyder is clearly a gentleman blessed with a strong visual imagination. No doubt, there’s aesthetic merit in some of his action scenes; he has crafted many striking visuals. And I can appreciate the way individual shots look, but he doesn’t edit them together in a way that creates energy, or excites or captivates me. There are a lot of colorful, well framed shots of people punching each other that don’t come together as a satisfying sequence.

    That said, I actually have a lot of fondness for WATCHMEN. Yes, it has serious problems, most of which you fine people have already outlined. Yet it also has many sustained sequences of power and, I’ll say it, beauty that outdo anything I’ve seen in a mega-budget picture this year. I’ve seen WATCHMEN twice now, and both times I got chills during Manhattan’s soliloquy on Mars. I find something very potent about the combination of his tragic story, Snyder’s elegant visuals, the haunting music and Billy Crudup’s preternaturally calm voice-over. It conveys the weight of his transformation from human to superhuman.

    The film is too problematic to be fully embraced, but I do think it has moments of greatness. If I were to make a top 10 list this year, I doubt it would make the cut, but it deserves a shout-out for its brilliance despite its flaws.

  42. Of all the directors who’ve come and gone on this project I think the one I was the most interested in seeing would’ve been Aronofsky’s. I sorta think his movie The Fountain was like Doc Manhattan’s anabasis on Mars expanded to an entire movie and figured Aronofsky would’ve related best to the Doc Manhattan character and I figured he would’ve delivered him the most solidly. However I think the stuff with Manhattan’s backstory and his anabasis on Mars was handled perfectly by Snyder and the best part of the film.

    I probably would’ve doubted Aronofsky’s ability to handle the Rorschach character, but after seeing his work with Rourke in The Wrestler I now feel he could’ve delivered that character too. The weird thing is, even though his name was never attached to this project, I keep feeling like Steve Soderburgh (I never spell his name right) could’ve been the best choice for this material.

    I guess, like Vern, I was definitely impressed by this film in terms of Snyder’s growth as a filmmaker. Even though I don’t feel Watchmen worked, it was way more than I thought Snyder was capable of. I’m sure Aronofsky, Gilliam, Greengrass etc all would’ve produced movies that were equally flawed, but in different ways.

    I remain interested in anything Snyder does. His next Caged Heat knockoff movie really sounds like something that’s right up my alley.

  43. Dan Prestwich,

    I think you’ve hit on one of my key struggles with the film. Is it mature or just adult? Does Snyder know the difference? Sure, Snyder prettymuch goes down the list of everything that will get him an R rating, but is he doing it to service the story and the characters or is he just doing it to entertain? For most of this movie I didn’t really feel like I was watching anything especially mature. By the end I mostly felt like I saw a movie that was just like any of those X-Men movies but with more blood and nudity.

    I never saw Hancock. As far as I know that was also a superhero deconstruction film about an alcoholic superhero with emotional problems but in a movie that I think was PG. Maybe some of you who saw both films can say whether the adult things Snyder got to be explicit with made a big difference in the impact of the film.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like action movies that are aimed right at us adults. They don’t have to be mature or thoughtful to entertain me. I like swearing and cussing and nudity. But I think as a filmmaker you should know whether you’re making a cartoon movie for an adult audience or actually going for a mature serious movie, and I’m not sure Snyder does.

  44. 1) Great review.

    2) The thing that bugged me the most about this movie was the incredibly dumb use of music. Since that’s the part of the movie that had no guidance from the comic, it made me feel that Zack Snyder must be dumb. It was just all so incredibly obvious – need a song to indicate that time is passing and significant political/social events are happening? The Times They Are a Changin’ hardly requires reaching very far. Cold War Paranoia? 99 Luft Balloons may have been used before in that context. And so on – basically every song choice felt that way and made me groan.

    3) I think you need to re-watch Driving Miss Daisy. Miss Daisy learns many valuable lessons from Morgan Freeman, y’know. And at the end [SPOILER] he feeds her pumpkin pie, she doesn’t get her arms hacked off. So your analogy is somewhat flawed there.

  45. Whoops, I meant “accordion” in my last post, not “according.”

    Wolfgang:

    I’ll actually give Snyder the benefit of the doubt here. I think he intended to make a serious film; if he was making an R-rated cartoon, he would have put a lot more action in. As it stands, I feel like he shoehorned some gratuitous action in to make the film more commercial, but it’s a testament to his commitment to the material that WATCHMAN is a long, talky movie with a little bit of action crammed in, instead of the action extravaganza that pays lip service to the story and characters that it could have been.

    Even despite some of the violence that I think he threw in for the 300 fans in the audience to gawk at, other bits of violence are effectively employed for reasons other than Grand Guignol style entertainment. Most notably is the murder of the little girl and Rorschach’s subsequent reaction. You’d have to be a sicko to be entertained by that. That is a grim, miserable sequence designed to show us the world the way Rorschach sees it, and to help explain why he feels his extreme behavior is justified.

  46. Also I gotta go back to my point from the review that one of the many subplots of the movie is “my mom is acting funny because the guy who tried to rape her died.” There are no young people in the movie, and many of the leads spend their time reminiscing about the old days. I think it’s fair to say that it has an adult point of view and not just sex and gore to give it an R-rating.

  47. I guess I don’t see where the action was ‘shoehorned’ in. Every fight scene appeared in some form in the comic. The only thing that was added was Rorschach fighting the cops after jumping out the window (which was awesome) and the prison fight scene (which is at most three minutes long). And I felt like the prison fight was just a continuation of the rescue sequence. They went to the prison not out of some obligation to Rorschach but because they wanted to blow shit up and kick ass, that’s how they get off.

  48. Dan Prestwich, you’re probably right. I think Snyder did set out to make a thoughtful mature movie and either he threw in all those stylized beatings to cater to his 300 fans on purpose or he just can’t help himself when approaching a fight scene or something like that. He does devote enough screentime to characters dealing with complex feelings that I’m willing to believe his intentions were to make a thoughtful film, but I guess I feel that thoughtful film got pretty lost in his less mature love of stylized violence, music video montage-o-rama, and that the whole climax portion dealing with unconventional heroism and creating an artificial God out of Doc Manhattan to keep people in line felt like it was kinda rushed through in between punching and explosions so the weight of what was happening didn’t really resonate as deeply as it should’ve.

    I guess it’s just a really uneven film. Or, well, it’s perfectly even in its ratio of hit to miss. I find it so close to at least being one of those deeply flawed though highly enjoyable masterpieces like Blade Runner that it’s very frustrating so I feel endlessly compelled to discuss it.

  49. Well, the violence was often greatly elaborated upon in the film. Brief moments of violence in the comic were often translated into more extended action sequences. In addition to the ones you’ve named, which I found superfluous, the Comedian’s murder is now a full fledged action scene (it was just a few flashback panels of him being punched in the comic), and the final confrontation with Veidt contains a lot more unnecessary punching in between dialogue that I recall their being in the comic. Of course, it’s been a while since I’ve read the graphic novel, and I don’t have it with me right now for reference, but I recall that the movie adds numerous other touches of extra action, like Laurie beating up her bodyguards (in the director’s cut, at least), and the burning building scene being a lot more dramatic.

    I found most of this stuff to be not only boring and poorly made (as I mentioned earlier) but also extraneous to the story. My sense is that they included it so they could cut a trailer that looked more like an action/blockbuster movie than the weird, contemplative semi-artsy fartsy movie that it is.

    I’m intrigued by your suggestion that saving Rorschach was just a pre-text for them to beat people up. I’m inclined to disagree, because Nite Owl spends the rest of the movie genuinely trying to solve the mystery with Rorschach, but I at least see where you’re coming from. However, if that’s really what Snyder was going for, then it’s redundant. At that point we’ve already seen them beat up a gang and save people from a burning building and then fuck each other’s brains out. The prison fight pushes a point that’s already pushed hard enough.

  50. great review Vern!

  51. Wolfgang,

    Well put. I can tell I’m a bigger fan of the film than you are, but I totally understand where you’re coming from. I think there’s enough brilliance in WATCHMEN to make it a worthwhile experience. But I see your point that Snyder’s earnest intentions may be undermined by his “love of stylized violence” as you put it; that the good material loses heft because of some of the more pandering elements.

  52. I wouldn’t call the Comedian’s death a ‘fight scene.’ He puts up a struggle, but is powerless as his opposer takes apart his defenses then beats the shit out of him and flings Blake out a window. It’s a murder sequence pure and simple. I realize this is splitting hairs but I really did love this movie and feel like it’s worth the discussion.

  53. Okay Brendan, it will probably useless for us to argue the semantics of whether or not the Comedian’s death is an action scene. So let me ask you this: what does showing his murder in graphic detail contribute to the film? Why not start with the Comedian already murdered, as in the comic? What are we gaining by turning his murder into an extended sequence?

    I would argue that exists simply as a means to add violence to the film. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

  54. I think it sets the tone for the whole movie. The way Snyder uses the music, the stylization of the speed and movement. The way the characters start out normal and then gradually reveal just how strong and capable these people are.

  55. Dan & Brendan Re. Comedian attack.

    My problem with that is the way it shows Blake being demolished by a slim, tall, graceful assailant that has a rather distinctive physicality. Then we are presented with various characters throughout the movie that could be the murderer – but the only one that remotely resembles the attacker is Veidt. It gave the game away to a number of peeps that I talked to that hadn’t read the book – so it deflates the detective/whodunnit aspect quite seriously and adds to the sense that Veidt is a baddy way before the big reveal of his plan.

    I understand the desire to start things off with a bang, but I think starting with him already dead would have served the story better.

    Alright – doesn’t anyone else have a problem with Nixon in the movie? He looks absurd – like they decided to do a caricature of him – I found that really distracting and strange, compared to some of the other costume and make up choices.

    The movie is such a mad mix of awesome and misguided – I do think that the awesome wins out – but it’s just so front-loaded that the weak climax doesn’t allow you to emerge with a satisfied awesome gland. I’ll have to do what someone above suggested and watch it episodically on DVD.

  56. I will try to tread carefully hear because I don’t want this to turn into some pointless argument where I nitpick your choice of words and neither of us gains anything from the experience. Thematically, I’m not sure I agree with your assessment of the film. I don’t see it as a film where seemingly normal people turn out to be “strong and capable.” Quite the opposite, I always thought WATCHMEN was about how seemingly strong and capable individuals are actually a bunch of weirdos and fuckups. Although I care about the characters, my ultimate impression of them is that they are impotent and morally compromised. They fail to accomplish anything, and end up complicit in the cover-up of the greatest terrorist attack of all-time.

    Your point that the opening scene “sets the tone” is a fair one in that the style is reasonably consistent with the rest of the film. However, I would counter that Snyder could have established the visual and musical motifs whether or not the film opened with the Comedian’s murder. He opens the film with the murder as a way of starting the film off with a bang, with an extended sequence of stylized violence.

  57. Telf,

    I’d be curious to hear from other people who hadn’t read the comics. Going in, I knew who the killer was, so I don’t really have a sense if the movie accidentally tipped its hand in the opening scene.

    The comic wisely starts after the murder has occurred, so we aren’t subjected to a bunch of panels of a mysterious killer whose face is always masked in shadow. I love horror movies, so I dig that kind of bullshit, but doing it in WATCHMEN seems like a mistake. In the comic, I don’t think you even necessarily suspect that one of the characters is the killer, I just sort of assumed it was a government assassin or something like that. But by showing the audience a shadowy killer, it does clue them in that the killer will be one of the main characters. I wonder if this spoiled things for a lot of people?

  58. I saw the movie with five friends, none of whom had read the comic book. They all guessed Vedit was the bad guy not because he had the same build as the shadowy villain who kills The Comedian, but because he behaved in a frosty manner, most of his few scenes were about his God complex, and because they fucking played ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ in the background when his character was on screen.

    When I first saw it, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with changing Veidt’s character from a Gatsby-esque goldenboy to a foppish glam rocker, but maybe it made him too obvious as the villain. It also maybe made him too much like a villain in a story that isn’t supposed to have one. The idea is that he does something awful to keep something even worse from happening making him a very unconventional hero and the villain was simply human nature leading to paranoia that would cause a nuclear holocaust and therefore also and unconventional villain. But in the movie that point gets a little lost between all the punching, the CGI lynx, the music, and the fact that Veidt delivers the explanation for his actions all cold and detatched like a Bond villain.

  59. Wolfgang und Dan – totally agree. Veidt just comes off as aloof from the outset. I was shocked that Snyder didn’t introduce him doing his acrobat routine on TV – seems a big Cirque de Soleil type spectacle (set to really on the nose music – “Holding Out for a Hero” anyone) would really suit his sensibilities.

    What is it about near misses like this that make them so much fun to talk about?

  60. Wolfgang,

    I think what you’re getting it is that the movie makes Veidt in to a more obvious villain as a way of making the story a little more palatable to mainstream tastes. The book ends in ambiguity, and as you point out Veidt is a little more complicated of a character. My guess is they deliberately made him more evil so that the audience feels more of a sense of closure at the end, they don’t have to think as much about the moral implications. Hence why they also have Nite Owl kick Veidt’s ass and give him a lecture about his legacy; it’s trying to provide some sense, no matter how tenuous, that there are good guys and bad guys, and that the good guys at least triumphed morally in the end. It’s a hollow victory, but compared to the book it’s a happy ending.

  61. this movie has balls. and i really enjoyed it.

  62. Question for those that weren’t fond of the extended moments of action. Did you really find that it detraced from the “serious” story elements? What if they had been less stylised, more bourne like, would that have made them more palatable?

    I mean, I don’t wanna get to a splitting hairs point or anything. But at nearly 3 hours long, action scenes have gotta only make up about 20 minutes of the film. And I’m sure the majority of us here all dig well directed/chereographed fight scenes. So, from what I can see, the issue of the action scenes comes down to either:

    A) they were too overly stylised/comic book-y/gorey that in some way negated the serious points the film was trying to make by detracting from the realism, or feeling like it was playing to the 300 crowds.

    B) just didn’t like the idea of turning what were meant to be brief moments of violence into full on action scenes.

    I just wonder because, if it’s for thematic reasons, then fair enough, I’ve already argued my case for why I think they work on a thematic level of attraction/disgust to the stylisation/gore, but if you don’t think it works or you don’t see it working that way then I understand.

    But if it’s for the reason that they were there “superfluously” when a smaller scene would have done, I’m going to disagree and say that there’s really nothing wrong with an action scene or two in a “serious” film. If we’re getting to a point where we’re suggesting that a scenes that is visually exciting is a negative impact on the films seriousity, then we’re getting to a point of criticising it for any great use of cinematography, because, in theory, it’s superfluous to have some attractive cinematography in the film.

    Oh, but I definatly agree with all of you that Ozzy was far too obviously a villian and played too cold. Where was his “I did it!” and tears at the end? I think we were missing that humility to him.

  63. caruso_stalker217

    July 27th, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    I think it would’ve been obvious to everyone that Veidt was the “villain” from the scene where the Comedian burns his map. That’s fucking motive right there.

  64. caruso_stalker217

    July 27th, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    catch42 –

    I thought the fight scenes were incorrect, but they didn’t kill the movie for me. I was disappointed that after eight years of stagnation these regular humans jump right back into kicking ass and also somehow can punch people twenty feet across a room. It’s sorta like Snyder is saying, “Hey, look at this! You’re watching a movie! Look at the punching!” I would’ve preferred something more like THE DARK KNIGHT, where the punching is more realistic and doesn’t require a guy jump-kicking somebody in slow-motion. But, you know, shot far enough away that you can actually see what’s happening.

    So, yeah, I don’t know what the fuck is up with the superhero punching/kicking/jumping stuff. It’s like those scenes were inserted from another movie.

  65. I thought the fights were fine, and honestly, without them, the movie would have been unwatchable to anyone who wasn’t already completely in love with the source material. If we’re to buy that these nerds are honest-to-God superheroes, we need to see them kicking ass. It’s vital to their characters. The only thing I kind of had a problem with was the way Rorschach jumped around like he was obviously on wires, but that’s a pet peeve of mine that extends to pretty much every movie nowadays. I’ve gotten pretty sick of wirework because it never looks real. It used to be exciting to see people getting thrown fifty feet through the air, but I’ve seen it so many times that it’s distracting. I can’t suspend my disbelief when I can picture all the harnesses and cables that got airbrushed out of the shot. What happened to the days when you would hit somebody and they would actually fall down instead of flying across the room? It’s a tired cliche that I’d hoped Ong Bak had put to bed.

  66. Christian Brimo

    July 27th, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I did have a problem with the action scene, but I think me feeling toward the movie can be summed up by my feeling toward the credit song. I’m an a HUGE Bob Dylan fan. I’m one of the guys that prefers his original version of All Along The Watchtower to the Hendrix version. So you figure I’d go nuts at the My Chemical Romance cover of ‘Desolation Row’ they used. But you know what? I dug it. It was fun. Sped up a bit, but still respectful to the original. And its a song that gets used in the comic. It wasn’t as good as listening to the original but it was a different take on the song and you might hate on MCR for being losers or wearing too much eyeliner or whatever but they did a respectful, fun version
    so thats how I feel about the movie. yeah, the fight scenes were stupid. Ozymandis was overplayed. some of the music cues were too obvious, tho some of them came straight from the comic. but they got some of the essential shit right

  67. Ozmandias had a part in the director’s cut that I think was new where he tells Dr. Manhattan that he feels every death he caused. I think they did try to make his villain status ambiguous but the way Goode plays it it still comes across like your usual villain who has an interesting motive like in many action movies. (You and me we’re alike, etc. etc.)

  68. Vern that part was in the theatrical cut.

  69. The point i feel about the villain was that everybody was guilty of something (think along the lines of sins and morals) but to fit a traditional sense of villainy they needed an actual person in the film for the audience to hate/vilify.

    This is not necessarily the same as the most evil person in the film this could have been Nixon, who was using God and protecting America as the justification for starting the Nuclear exchange which would have killed everyone, against Ozzie who was willing to kill some to try to save the majority, against the Comedian who took the blackest human experiences and mirrored them in his behaviour, against Manhattan who cared so little for people and was so disconnected from the human race that he wouldn’t think to stop a pregnant woman from being shot, against person x doing bad thing to person y

    Sorry for stating the obvious.

  70. Catch42,

    As far as I’m concerned, an action film is a “serious” film, or at least as serious as any other mainstream film. Please trust me when I say I’m not being some sort of snob about the action in WATCHMEN. My beef with the action is multi-faceted. Not only for reason A that you mentioned, but above I added my reason C: I don’t like the way Snyder directs action sequences.

    But speaking of reason B, I felt that most (not all) of the extended action in WATCHMEN didn’t contribute to the film. I love action movies, but I want the action to in some way advance the film, whether it moves the story forward, or creates kinetic energy, or textures the movie visually in a beneficial way. Personally, I felt additions like the jail fight, or Nite Owl wailing on Veidt didn’t contribute anything to the film.

    Mr. Majestyk said of the action scenes “without them, the movie would have been unwatchable to anyone who wasn’t already completely in love with the source material.” I kind of agree, in that I feel the action scenes were crafted more for commercial reasons than for artistic reasons.

  71. Catch42

    My problem with the fight scenes was not that their existence in the film, but how they were handled. I agree with Mr. Majestyk that we needed to see these characters displaying their abilities. I think we can all agree that one of the main themes of this film is that these individuals are powerful as their superhero personas, but weak and messed-up as themselves. To create that contradiction of public strength versus private weakness you must see their strength. But they’re just supposed to be strong fast humans, not superhumans.

    Like Caruso, I wanted fights, but fights that were on a standard movie level of realism because this is a story about real people, not superpeople. Stuff like Bourne or Taken or The Dark Knight.

    I actually found the action scenes thrilling on their own and think they would be great in an X-Man / Spiderman type movie about people with magic powers where the point of the film is more to deliver spectacle.

    I know I was asking earlier about comparisons to Hancock, a film which I didn’t see. But I did some thinking and remembered this other movie called Unbreakable that I think actually accomplished most of what Watchmen was trying to accomplish and did so with a much smaller budget, much less action/fighting, and some sort of PG rating. It had some flaws, the biggest being the end where they run out of money and just put text on the screen telling you what they would’ve like to have filmed, but I think it was a much more mature, intense and even film.

  72. Christian Brimo

    July 28th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    “Like Caruso, I wanted fights, but fights that were on a standard movie level of realism because this is a story about real people, not superpeople. Stuff like Bourne or Taken or The Dark Knight.”

    Ironic that you include The Dark Knight but yeah. The final battle in that movie is a fistifight between two very normal people. The fights should have been like the start of Batman Begins, where Bruce is just a guy who can fight well.
    I mean Rorshach and Nite Owl are partly based on Batman….

  73. Argh! I lost my internet yesterday just when I wanted to discuss this film with this crowd.

    Dan P / Mr. M — Well, Dan, I gotta say I loved your post way up there where you take issue with the fact that the graphic violence doesn’t meld well with the cartoony action. I hadn’t thought of it quite that way until you said it, and then I realized that that’s exactly what doesn’t work for me. I think there’s nothing wrong with having action sequences in the movie — in fact, I don’t even care if they’re extended. But there’s virtually no violence whatsoever in the film that doesn’t play like a video game (two exceptions: Rorsarch’s oil-burning and head-splitting). Otherwise, despite the blood and bones etc, it feels like it has nothing in common with the real world. Punching through walls and marble and shit, flying through the air like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”… it just undoes a lot of the Real World vibe the movie should have, and moreover undermines the movie’s (apparent?) intent to remind us that violence IS bloody and awful. Instead, it looks kind of cool and easy. I’d prefer to have the heroes just fight like real humans… humans who are good at fighting, sure, but still just normal humans. That’s a big loss, as far as I’m concerned.

    That Having been said, I also don’t think skimping on the action would have been a good idea, either. Watchmen ought to have some action in it. Adding more might not have been necessary, and I especially question the wisdom of starting with the Comedian’s death, but fuck it. The trick is to do it in a style which seamlessly meshes with the tone of the plot, and I think that’s what is a little iffy here.

  74. We’ve talked a bunch about the action, but I still want to delve a little bit into the way the characters are presented by Snyder.

    I am among those who think that Goode’s (or is it Synder’s?) idea of Veidt as David Spade’s taller, gayer brother really sinks the thing.

    But am I the only one who thinks that Synder seems to really kind of hate Veidt, Dan, and Laurie? The book makes all of the characters kind of likeable but also kind of unforgivably flawed. In the movie, it seems like he takes it easy on Rorsarch and the Comedian (either cutting some of their more dispicable dialogue or playing them as deeply conflicted, tragic characters) while accentuating Dan’s pathetic nerdiness and Veidt’s cold, effeminate aloofness. So rather than four characters who are all flawed in their own way, you get one which treats two of their complexities very seriously and just kind of glosses over the other two (yeah, Veidt has some of his dialogue about ‘feeling every death’ but as Vern says, he’s such a snivelling weasel it doesn’t really make him seem particularly conflicted). It makes me kind of wonder if Snyder doesn’t kind of miss the point that Veidt may actually be the real hero here — and that even Rorsarch kind of has to acknowledge it at the end (he can’t compromise, because that’s his whole identity. But he also kind of knows that dooming the world again would be wrong, so his solution is essentially suicide).

    And Laurie — her portrayal is just bizarre. In the book, she’s portrayed as very young (she’s only 17 when she meets Dr. M) immature, rebelling against her various identities and trying to find definition for herself (which is why the revelation of her dad is so awful for her). In the movie’s she’s an older, uber-confident action vamp. So even when she occasionally has dialogue strait from the book, it just kind of doesn’t make sense with her character. Can’t decide if this is Snyder’s idea of feminism, or if he just doesn’t understand or care about her character at all.

  75. Just watched this, have never read the comic, and I have to say I liked the vast majority of it. The last fifteen minutes get cheesy, but the central characters, storyline and conemaship all seem to be sound. That said, emotionally it never quite “connects” for me. Night Owl seems to be the weakest character of the lot which is a problem, and I hate how he’s treated at the end. Very good movie nonetheless.

  76. Thanks for the replies to my question about the action scenes. I only really asked due to having read similar points on IMDB, but they’ve been drowned out with accompanying “this is what it is like and if you disagree you are an idiot lolol”. So I just wanted to hear it from people who wouldn’t reply in a condescending or idiotic way. Cheers.

    I agree to a small extent that some of the action is overly “super”, though i’m ok with the majority of it. And think some of it just boils down to splitting hairs – ozzy is allowed to catch a bullet but nite owl isn’t allowed to kick a guy a meter or two across an alley etc. But i’ll stop with that bit of discussion.

    Mr. Subtlety –

    “In the movie, it seems like he takes it easy on Rorsarch and the Comedian (either cutting some of their more dispicable dialogue or playing them as deeply conflicted, tragic characters) ”

    I really disagree on that one. Perhaps its just our cultural knowledge and fondness for anti-heroes in film that leads their characteristics to being more forgiveable on screen, but i didn’t think Rorscharch was any less dispicable than he was in the comics. In fact, in some aspects I thought it was worse. The child killer scene for example – having him take a butchers knife to his head was far far worse than watching him burn the house with the guy trapped inside it. It was incredibly uncomfortable to watch as, up until that point, whilst Rorscharch had been horribly right wing “i hate those damn prossies and liberals” stuff, he’d also had a few bad ass moments and being the only one investigating the murder gives him a noir anti-hero vibe. But the murder really brings him back to “this is a fucked up insane guy”.

    Similar with the comedian as well. Seeing the attempted rape in action rather than just in comic panels had a far bigger impact. I was actually suprised when he punched her in the gut as I didn’t remember that from the comic and it seemed particularly sadistic, however looking back that was in the comic, it just made more of an impression on me in live action.

    “while accentuating Dan’s pathetic nerdiness”

    Eh, I’m up and down on that point. It’s all in the performance there, sometimes it’s pulled off right, sometimes it’s a bit too droopy dog.

    “It makes me kind of wonder if Snyder doesn’t kind of miss the point that Veidt may actually be the real hero here — and that even Rorsarch kind of has to acknowledge it at the end (he can’t compromise, because that’s his whole identity. But he also kind of knows that dooming the world again would be wrong, so his solution is essentially suicide).”

    I think this comes down to a script issue, and how much Snyder was allowed to push it. Perhaps the producers were uncomfortable with it being too conflicted and hence the reason we have a slightly more “well, he is a bad guy…and these are good guys kinda…but they lost, though he did punch him a few times which makes us feel better”

    I don’t think it’s that Snyder doesn’t understand it (i don’t think it’s a massively complex issue in the comic anyway, it’s not particularly subtle, and I don’t mean that as an insult, simply that the idea that Ozy is in some ways a hero for his actions is quite apparant and hard to miss), just that he was to an extent confined by what the money holders would allow, and the script writers own difficulty in re-structuring the novel into a film.

    As for Laurie – The age thing seems an odd complaint, Malin Akerman is just 30, and she certainly looks younger, easily mid 20s. Which is how old I thought Laurie was meant to be by the films starting point?

    I think Laurie is a difficult character to perform right, she can quite easily come across as whiney and annoying. As she did in the film. Not sure about over confident, I more got the feeling that she was acting like a precocious teenager, she thinks she’s mature but really has never grown out of being a teenage girl because she never had any moment to grow up and was forced into roles by her mother. So when she is an adult it’s more of an act, rather than her actually being an adult.

    I know this seems a bit of a defensive post, but it’s just devil’s advocate really, whatever its faults, i think it’s a fantastic film to discuss.

    Though I do similarly have serious issues with both Akerman’s and Goode’s performance.

  77. Catch — I hear ya, and I’m not trying to say it’s completely one-sided (they definitely don’t soft-pedal Rorsarch and Comedian’s uglier sides the way one would think a Hollywood movie would) but I still think there’s a bit of SOMEONE’s prejudice towards the characters in there, be it Snyder or someone else. The reason I don’t think its a script issue is that the script seems to leave in at least a hint of everyone’s complexity — its the performances which sometimes punk out a little. Maybe it was the producers who didn’t like Ozy being a conflicted villain, I don’t know, but it kind of weakens the whole structure of the thing that Dan, Laurie and Viedt all come across as pretty one-note. I don’t know if Snyder maybe just isn’t much of an actor’s director, and Jeff Morgan and Jackie Earl Haley just did great work on their own while the other actors needed more help that they never ended up getting, or what. But I think we both see that there are three characters in the film who come across as kinda superficial archetypes, and three characters who come across as textured, nuanced and unique (sometimes even MORE than in the book–check out the expression on Haley’s face as Rorsarch takes off his mask for the last time. The image in the book makes him look kind of angry and sad, but the way he’s played is much more complex and sympathetic. On the other hand, a character like Dan was always nerdy, but I always thought of him as the essentially likable one, which doesn’t come across at all here – just, yeah, kind of a droopy dog wanna-be. Basically, the most obvious stereotype of his character.
    The reason I kind of think it might be Snyder himself is that his previous two movies have, I think, kind of a hyper-macho, slightly right-wing bent. Now, he didn’t write the original material on either of em — but still, its the material that he chose to work with. It seems to me kind of like he has a lot of love and respect for fighters, strength and conviction – and a lot of distain for everyone else – which is kind of born out in the way he presents the characters in “Watchmen”. While Comedian and Rorsarch are flawed, I think Snyder understands and respects them and their intensity of purpose. You can see that those characters are portrayed and complex and sympathetic, which humanizes them. On the other hand, I think Snyder either doesn’t understand Dan, Laurie, and Ozy or just plain doesn’t like them – they get played as broad charictures and actually seem kind of DEhumanized compared to their written versions. I watched a bit last night to see if I could see what you’re saying with Laurie … dunno that I do (hard to tell if its just stilted acting or actually intended to come across as false bravado) but even in that context I still think most of her character gets completely lost. Snyder just doesn’t seem really all that interested in her story or character… he tells the minimum possible part of it, and those scenes always seem the most stilted and least nuanced of the movie. Ditto with Dan and Ozy.
    I should note that I still think the movie has some great parts. It just feels to me a little like someone in the process kind of put their own judgments on the characters into the film, which makes it feel a little less legit and interesting to me (note that Vern’s take on the film mentions he dislikes both Dan and Ozy, and I don’t think he even mentions Laurie – not the interpretation that Moore would have wanted you to take away, methinks).

  78. Question: Why is everyone trapping TDK for that coarse Batman “voice”, but nobody with Haley’s Rorschach? Both guys fucking need a cough drop.

  79. Subtlety,

    Gonna have to 2nd catch42 on the Veidt sentiments. Like I argued above, I think the way they portrayed Veidt was a deliberate choice to give the audience an obvious villain, to make the movie more palatable to mainstream audiences. There’s only so much deconstruction and subversion they can take, eventually they want to see a more conventionally satisfying product.

    (I don’t mean that as a value judgment on audiences either; there’s nothing wrong with wanting a conventionalyl happy ending when you go to the movies, especially when the previews are promising a blockbuster-y super-hero movie).

    As for Dan and Laurie, I can’t agree that Snyder hates them. In the end, I don’t think Snyder morally implicates them as much with the cover up of Veidt’s plan as Moore did. Dan gets to make a big speech about how Veidt is the bad guy, and Laurie gets a heart warming, emotional reconciliation with her mother. If Snyder really hated these characters, I think he could have twisted the knife a little deeper.

  80. RRA, the difference is that Haley sounds natural talking like that. Bale sounds like he’s doing a crank call.

  81. “Natural”? That’s a subjective term, and as we learned during Dubya, opinion doesn’t equal fact.

    Of course, neither sound as natural as Megatron in Transformers 2, right? :)

  82. Dude, he’s an alien robot. Natural doesn’t figure into it.

    But seriously, it’s not that I think Batman shouldn’t have a gravelly voice. He should. It’s just that Bale’s gravelly voice SUCKS. He should not be attempting to talk like that, because he’s clearly no good at it. As an actual gravelly voiced man once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I, for one, can’t sing falsetto. That means I shouldn’t be singing any Curtis Mayfield songs at karaoke night, lest I invite the scorn and derision of the audience.

    Fuck, I’m talking about The Dark Knight again.

  83. “Dude, he’s an alien robot. Natural doesn’t figure into it.”

    I think you missed the forest for the trees, as in I was joking.

    The point I was making is, quite frankly I get the point of both raspy voices and I accept them I suppose. Just funny how the voice you argue is the worst (which maybe you’re right) belongs to the one movie of the pair that actually has some well-crafted legitimate auteur splash independent of the material.

    You know, besides the opening credits. :)

  84. I know you were joking, and I know it’s subjective. Some people don’t mind the Batman voice, but it drives me nuts. It doesn’t bother me so much when he’s whispering, but when he tries to yell with it, I cringe. He’s trying to sound scary, and it just does not work. It completely undermines the character for me. Batman shouldn’t have to ACT tough. He IS tough.

    Shit. I don’t want to become known as the guy who rags on The Dark Knight at every opportunity, so I’ll shut up now. I actually rewatched it recently and am able to better articulate my problems with it beyond “Bale sounds stoopit.” I promise I won’t say another word about the movie until I feel like getting into a lengthy debate on its review.

  85. Majestyk,

    If you haven’t already, you might be interested in reading Jim Emerson’s posts about The Dark Knight:

    http://blogs.suntimes.com/scanners/the_dark_knight/

    He didn’t like the movie either, and although I disagree with most of his arguments, his posts are the best written, best conveyed negative criticisms I’ve read about the film. Might help you further formulate your own criticisms.

    He doesn’t get hung up on the bat-voice, which is a good start.

  86. I actually wrote a very lengthy review of it for my own blog that I felt handled the movie fairly, with the minimum amount of bitching about the voice and other inconsequentials. My dissatisfaction with the film extends to the storytelling and themes, not just nitpicky fanboy stuff. Maybe I’ll see if I can post it on The Plot Hole (the website that my name links to) so anyone interested can read it and I can stop hijacking threads with my nonsense.

  87. Would love to read it if you did.

  88. Dan — Ok, I’ll bite that Ozy gets to be a prissy villain because the suits had their way. I think its kind of a shame, but that at least makes sense, unfortunately. Maybe I’m alone in thinking Dan and Laurie get short shrift in the way they’re portrayed, but I seem to kind of hear that from everyone else too. Again, to me the evidence is not in the way Snyder changes the plot (it’s mostly the same, and he didn’t write the screenplay anyway) but rather the way he handles the charictarization. In a movie with some demonstably great characterization, a few main characters also have kind of weak character work, ranging from the pedestrain to the sub-par. Considering the amount of detail and effort that went into a lot of the other aspects of the movie, letting a few main performances turn so unappealing seems to me to suggest that he just didn’t care as much about those characters — and I think there’s some evidence to suggest that he might feel this way based on his other projects. Or, maybe they just come across and more bland and unlikable in the film to me than they do to other people. Still, I think its kinda inarguable that they’re weaker characters than the other main players. Just some faultering on the part of director or actors? Or sinister conspiricy?

  89. Subtlety,

    I’ll buy your argument that Snyder may have been more interested in Rorschach and Manhattan. After all, as far as I’m concerned, they are the most interesting characters in the story, or at least inherently more dramatic. Plus they are visually more complex, which would give Snyder even more motivation to fixate on them; the man loves to make pretty pictures.

    I just don’t feel that he’s unsympathetic to Laurie and Dan or that he tries to short change them. Yeah, he includes the same gentle satire that Moore aimed at Dan, what with the whole impotency without his costume thing. But ultimately, much of the screen time focuses on their problems, they are presented as sympathetic characters, we are supposed to care about their relationship, etc etc.

    My guess is that it’s not so much a matter of Snyder not caring about the characters as it is you don’t feel he did a good job with them, in particular how he directed the actors and their subsequent performances. That’s a valid complaint and you’ve made your case, I would just attribute it more to Snyder trying and (in your view) failing than Snyder not trying at all.

  90. Eh, maybe so. I mean, its always pure speculation to try to guess why an artist made the choices he or she did (and in the case of a movie, there’s tons of people involved anyway, so trying to pick one person’s motivation out of the whole may be a particularly fruitless endeavor. In fact, I think we may have had this argument already in the Indiana Jones KOTOC forum (some speculated that the sometimes awesome bits interspersed with the lacklusterbits suggested Spielberg’s anemic interest in the material).

    And yeah, certainly, the film means you to take Dan and Laurie seriously as sympathetic characters. It’s there in the original story, and there in the script too. I just (perhaps insanely) feel like I detect an air of indifference to their characters and story which seems odd compared to how much care is put into crafting a lot of the rest of the movie. Like Synder is just kind of going through the motions with that part of the story, until he can get to the stuff he’s really interested in.

    I mean, we’ll never really know:did Snyder just care less about these elements, did he care but not execute particularly well, was it a producer issue like people have been suggesting with Ozy, or am I just a curmudgeon and the Dan and Laurie parts are exactly as good as eveything in the movie? To me, there seems to be a big difference in quality and I was kind of interested in whether or not anyone else felt that way or had an explanation, but I guess not.

  91. No offense guys, but I sincerely very much DOUBT that Snyder put as much thought into this shit as you guys have.

    I’m also tempted to rent that DVD, if it has Snyder commentary, so I can hear that dipstick self-applaud himself for his smarts and vision or whatever. Bay does that on his tracks, which guarantees terrific comedy.

    Or I, ROBOT for that matter, where Akiva Goldsmith and Proyas congratulate each other for making not a dumb loud Will Smith actioneer, but a “smart” one. Delusions seen from the outisde is always funny.

  92. Seems a bit unfair RRA, I’ve not seen many interviews with the guy, but he comes across as enthusiastic and friendly at the least, not particularly big headed. I seriously doubt it was his decision to put “visionary director” on the posters/trailers.

    And anyway, “death of the author” and all it doesn’t really matter what Snyder intended, we’re free to draw out of it what we will. :D

  93. “but he comes across as enthusiastic and friendly at the least”

    Uwe Boll also comes off as nice and rather passionate about movies in his interviews. And we can’t help but dig him beating up those critics in boxing matches, or when presented with a 300,000 signature petition for him to retire, he claims he’ll do it for a million sigs.

    He’s still a shitty director though.

  94. RRA — I dunno, man, I think Snyder (or somene, anyway) put quite a bit of thought into “Watchmen” — I mean, keeping the period detail, creating the elaborate and awesome sets, keeping it R-rated, picking great unknowns for the main role… not really the work of someone who was just slapping the thing together. Now, that doesn’t mean I think he was completely successful, or the right man for doing the job, or even interpreted it very well. But I think he does deserve some credit for putting some care into the thing.

  95. Mr. Subtlety – We’re talking superficial details. I mean ONE FROM THE HEART had expensive articulated impressive sets too. But since there is nothing beyond that (and a kickass Tom Waits soundtrack), so what?

    And I hate beating a dead horse, so I hope this is my final posting in this whole thread.

    I felt nothing or very little from WATCHMEN. Not as a religious technocrat regarding accuracy, because that’s a waste of time and besides the point. To put it another way, and you understand this, what did I feel arise in stimuli by the final cut? What political/commentary spark my imagination? Indeed what is the auteur “thought” behind the shots?

    This is a consequence perhaps arguably of this “panel by panel” school of thought that Vern blasted in his THE SPIRIT review. Panel is a shot frozen in time, the next panel is another, but there is that gap that your mind is supposed to compensate and thus make “motion.” Film is that gap. So in essence, is the panel school irrelevant?

    Nevermind its bullshit, since if one read some of those SIN CITY stories and saw the movie…they’re not exactly 100% faithful, so I never understood that advertizement.

    But there I go, I liked SIN CITY. Not love it like the nerds did, but I liked it. Why? Rodriguez can credit Frank Miller the comic all he wants, but for alot of shots he as the auteur had to decide how to execute this and that “gap” and telling the actors to perform this or that. For example, that stillouette ending shot of Bruce Willis blowing his brains out? Not in the comic. That is an auteur’s decision independent of the material, a good one I might add.

    So why not WATCHMEN? Reading this thread between people who cant give a shit about Snyder’s film, those who love it, and those who think its flawed but defend its noble intentions……Here is my final answer why I felt little for this outside the Haley performance (so wasted) and why I’ve been a little bitch about Zach GreenScreenyder:

    Snyder’s “Gaps” are shit. And again, I’ll repeat what I wrote earlier: When after $100+ million, hundreds of FX CGI monkey technicians, dozens of capable/good actors, and studio allowing you to do your thing for the most part…one’s best adaptive “gap” is an expositional opening credits.

    Why the fuck should I applaud him? WATCHMEN the comic was a great question at the superhero tradition, but perhaps the movie should have been a great question at the superhero film genre that’s sprung up in the last few years, or that particular action cinema. Instead the movie indulges completely with that trend without a comment on that.

    To put it another front, Fincher had all that detail expensive shit too on ZODIAC, but ultimately was the point? What was his auteur comment? Many things, but methinks its more his comment on the very serial killer thriller genre that his SE7EN helped define (w/ SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) for many years that we still live in. Can you imagine SAW without SE7EN? I can’t.

    Is this unrealistic expectations for Snyder to pull aside Nolan/Singer/Raimi that whole bunch and say to them “whoa guys whoa, what about…” ? Perhaps. But this is WATCHMEN, not TRANSFORMERS 2. If you don’t want to get burned, get out of the goddamn kitchen.

  96. Snyder cared about the costumes, the period detail etc, but those are all surface elements. He put a lot of effort into reproducing the graphic novel on-screen verbatim but ironically the best bits (like the opening sequence) are where he deviates from the source material. As for picking great unknowns, I’ll admit he knocked it out the park with Haley and maybe Wilson, but Goode is way too cold and distant as Ozymandias (granted this may be intentional) and Ackerman damn near sinks every scene she’s in. Comparisons to Bay or Boll, however, are uncalled for. That’s like the Godwin of movie discussion.

  97. And damnit, RRA just posted everything I said.

  98. RRA
    Hey at least Megatron sounded like Hugo Weaving this time!

    Don’t worry I’m back from vacation as I’m sure you missed my saying something someone already said and then someone comes along and says it better and then I derail a talkback into a completely unrelated topic.

    Since I’m here so late all I have to say has been said already. I pretty much agree whole-heartily with RRA. A boring, poorly-paced, and soulless love letter of a film. No imagination was used, for that would get in the way of slavishly adapting the comic frame-by-frame. Well imagination was used for the titles & the new not-as-good anddeosn’tworkaswellastheoriginalendingwhenyouthinkaboutitbutoveralI’mokaywithit ending. Oh and it was used to add new “way cool” action scenes that detract rather than add to the narrative.

    Problem is: I already the comic and also: This is a film, not a book/comic.

    What is it with these new younger directors thinking that adaptation is a bad word? You’d think with all the wonderful films made in the past (and presently) based on books and such, that you can in fact make good by not just regurgitating the source.

  99. oh crap, sorry if that one thing stretched the screen for anybody. That’s what we call a failed joke.

  100. The movie is souless, tha book is breathless.

  101. RRA — well, bud, I can’t hardly argue with you on your criticisms. I mean, I’ve been arguing that I think the performances are all over the map from the great (Rorsarch) to the pedestrian (Dan) to the awful (Ozy and Laurie). And yeah, one interpretation of this fact that would make some sense is that Snyder was underdirecting the actors, some of whom did OK on their own, some of whom didn’t. I can certainly see the logic in saying that he brings nothing to the tale other than a pretty literal “Put the pictures on screen” approach. On the other hand, I don’t know that there’s necessarily anything wrong with a literal translation of another medium, especially a comic, which, the argument goes, is basically just a storyboard waiting to be shot. Now, I definitely agree with you that Snyder’s approach to the style of the film was the wrong direction (ie, slow-mo, cartoony action scenes, goofy revisions at the end, CG greenscreen silliness) but I guess I just sort of figure the end result was much better than I dared hope, thanks largely to his general faith in the source material and his willingness to adapt it pretty much as-written.

    Now, would it have been better to have some artist with a little more original idea for the material? A Gilliam, maybe, who would have put his own spin on things and maybe changed the story’s commentary to something a bit more relavent? I dunno. It could have been really cool, or maybe not. I think the book is pretty great on its own, and was glad to see it make it to the screen more or less intact, even if it wasn’t exactly a home run. And I guess I see that as a kind of victory in itself; that the essential weirdness of the material made it into theaters — and I just figure that had to be a battle for Snyder, and one which he mostly won. Possibly that’s not the case, and no one suggested, for instance, putting pants on Dr. M… but to my way of thinking, preserving a lot of what made the book great shows at least some level of care for the material which ought to be commended.

    On the other hand, I read your post down on Machete, where you wonder what the heck a grindhouse film needs with a bunch of CG… and the answer should be “not a god damn thing.” Which is probably a good general sentiment for “Watchmen” too. I would have LOVED to see “Watchmen” done by someone who had a better eye for a slow burn, gritty, 70s-esque thriller; someone would might have let a fe shots linger, who might have shot conversation as if it was as important as action, who might have paid a little more heed to the nuances of some of the characters. Snyder’s contributions to the film’s style and content were definitely not ideal, and maybe that’s enough reason to condemn him and love the source material. But still, I think he the end result was successful enough to at least give the guy credit for a decent, if not exactly inspired, attempt. At least he cared enough to treat the material with dignity, even if his best efforts were a little clumsy.

  102. RRA, not to drag you back into this or anything, but I just wanted to hear more about why you thought Snyder’s “gaps” (as you call them) are shitty. You just kind of flatly stated that as fact and then didn’t elaborate. What didn’t you like about his contributions? It’s hard to see where you’re coming from when you don’t cite a few examples. It’s cool with me that you don’t like him or the movie, I’m not crazy about his earlier work myself, and I think WATCHMEN has serious flaws. I just want to hear more of an argument for your opinions.

    Everyone else, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on something else. I’ve been confused in general about accusations that Snyder mainly just took the comic book and put it up on the screen, that his adaptation was as literal as possible. That’s not true. Yes, the costume and set design was mostly crafted to be faithful to the comic. Yes, much of the dialogue is taken straight from the comic. Yes, some shots are modeled closely after panels in the comics. But in terms of Snyder’s directing, especially his visual style, he adds and changes a lot. It’s not some shot-by-shot/panel-by-panel recreation of the comic.

    For one, Snyder tends to move the camera around a lot. I don’t know, maybe not everyone has noticed this, but comic panels don’t move. Much of the framing, sequencing and staging of scenes in the film are very different from the comics, often working to better convey the visual information in cinematic terms. Not just in terms of the additions we mentioned before, like the action scenes or the opening credits. Think of the door swinging back and forth when Rorschach kills the guy in the prison bathroom. Think of the way the camera floats in and out of certain scenes. Think of the way the camera movements and the editing has been timed to fit with some of the musical selections.

    I’m almost considering picking up a copy of the movie just to do a side by side comparison of some scenes.

  103. Oh and btw RRA — that commentary track to “I, Robot” has to have been Proyas’ idea of his personal hell. Considering he was dead-set againstthe rewrite by Goldsmith and bascially almost quit over the concessions he was forced to make in the process of filming it… well, I guess you could say a kiss-ass commentary track where he’s forced to pretend to be happy with the results might well be the unkindest cut of all.

  104. “I don’t know that there’s necessarily anything wrong with a literal translation of another medium, especially a comic, which, the argument goes, is basically just a storyboard waiting to be shot. ”

    Mr. Subtlety – Why is it when someone makes a criticism about an appliance, people think they are criticizing the tool itself? A tool is a tool, it can work or not. Take a toaster: Great with bread, not with pizza.

    And yes the panel/storyboard analogy is apt. But again, storyboards are drawn up for most action movies. Doesn’t mean those said sequences will necessarily work or compel or exciting for that matter.

    WATCHMEN is the pizza.

    As for Proyas…..you know I didn’t know that, but it doesn’t shock me now I guess considering DARK CITY got respect, but tanked hard and GARBAGE DAYS didn’t do shit. So now a once talented visualist storyteller is stuck as a glorified jobber, hired by a studio for any big movie star’s lameass sci-fi vehicle.

    Compare DARK CITY with KNOWING….really, its fucking depressing. Though with your anecdote, I respect Akiva Hacksmith even more, which is interesting since I never respected him in the first place.

  105. Mr. S – I meant respect that fucker “less”, not more. Sorry.

    Dan Prestwich – Want a gap? Here’s a shitty gap: Take that whole sequence when the two cops enter the Comedian’s apartment to investigate. They split up, Rorscach beats up one, the other cop sees him on the railing. He draws his gun and fires. Cut to Rorscach looking at him, cut back to Cop firing last of 3 shots, cut back to empty railing.

    HUH?

    In a comic book such a sequence in storyboard would work because your mind fills in those gaps, that this guy got away in time…or got shot and falling. Your call before reading the next panel.

    But literally in a film sense? Not really. That’s such an independent lame gap, but if you guys disagree with me here fine, I mean I doubt anyone’s minds have been changed from their original since we started posting. Not a fact, an opinion.

    And you bring up Snyder “moving” the camera….oh for fucks sake. Snyder reminds me of all those hacks who grew up in the 80s, saw all those John Woo movies being imported and thinking the key ingredient is SLOW MOTION, SLOW MOTION, and if in doubt, some more SLOW MOTION. When you know, that device wasn’t what made John Woo…well, John fucking Woo.

    Compare Snyder’s usage to a great director regarding slow motion: Brian DePalma. His delivery of slow motion in SCARFACE or DRESSED TO KILL or BLOW OUT or whatever, he knows to only execute it when absolutely necessary, and milk it for its worth. Do that device too much, it just becomes fucking silly.

    Of course its not Snyder’s fault I guess. Look at those assholes like Michael Bay or Paul W.S. Anderson who saw James Cameron movies in the 80s, and went away with the impression that ACTION and FX/CGI is everything. Sure Cameron makes good fucking action, but his best films float from a very good compelling decent story, usually in sci-fi.

    You know, same inspired hacks who think ALIENS is an action movie. I would argue its a drama/thriller with alot of action. If ALIENS was an action movie, it would be like RESIDENT EVIL.

  106. from GODFATHER PART 3: “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”

    That almost applies to me with this thread.

  107. RRA,

    Thank you for the response. The scene you mention is a good example, I’m better understanding where you’re coming from, I’ll even agree that it’s not a well staged moment. Not so much because it’s an awkwardly literal adaptation from the comic (because it doesn’t happen in the comic, it’s something they added for the movie), but because it’s an awkward cliche I’ve never liked. Like in other movies where a car drives past a character and momentarily blocks them from view, and they suddenly vanish.

    I mentioned camera movement not in terms of your post but just something I wanted to bring up to people, which is that the visual design of the film is not nearly as close to the the comic’s as people seem to believe it is.

    And I didn’t say anything about slow motion so I’m not sure what your point there was.

  108. “And I didn’t say anything about slow motion so I’m not sure what your point there was.”

    A random tangent of mine inspired on the moment, a cinema pet peeve of mine. Nothing against you or your posting, just…you know how these sort of things go.

  109. Yes Synder is a poster child for what not to do with slow-motion.

    My pet peeve on this film was Synder’s cutesy music cues. Those drove me up the wall and probably contributed to more than anything else my displeasure with the film.

    Playing ’99 Luft Balloons’ after the government talks about a nuclear strike.

    and who could forget my favorite: Playing ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ in a room filled with Oil Barons.

    This is what constitutes for genius/visionary storytelling now-a-days?

    Really?!

  110. While I’m contemplating the state motion pictures are in today can anyone answer me how Synder became a ‘auteur’ and ‘visionary’ and ‘successor to Kubrick, Bergman, Kurosawa, Lang, etc.’?

    I mean I’m one of the few who didn’t guilty for digging his ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake. It was a solid zombie/apocalyptic film I thought and it irked me how many people shit on it just because of it’s name. Maybe it’s because I think people read too much into the original ‘Dawn’? Anywho I really dug it but everywhere I went they called Synder a hack and a cover band or some shit. Then he did ‘300’. Which was fucking terrible and border-line unwatchable. But it somehow became the ‘most awesome thing ever in the history of awesome things’ and everybody started raving about how Snyder was a auteur. Even though the film on green-screen shit wasn’t anything new, you’d believe Synder invented the concept if you were to listen to the nerds. So then I hear he got ‘Watchmen’ and my first reaction was ‘May as well have given it to Renny Harlin or Michael Bay’ based on how he did a cool zombie flick and a really really dumb cheesy action movie. I admit to eating those particular words now by-the-way. But even before the movie came out everyone was acting like Stanley Kubrick or some shit had gotten a hold of it. They talked about how there was nothing to worry about now. How Synder is ‘the director of this generation’. Etc. It has seemed to only grow now post-Watchmen. You even get some intelligent critics talking the man up as if he’s the next great director (sorry Fincher, that would have been you but apparently Synder eclipses you in every way imaginable).

    Even post-Watchmen and in some cases even now more than ever… I’m not seeing it.

  111. RRA- gotcha man, and I certainly agree that Snyder’s contributions to the material generally were the weakest part of the project. Still, though, don’t you think he deserves some (or, a little) credit for keeping a lot of the spirit of the thing intact, especially since there were probably lots of people telling him to tone it down, etc? That’s the crux of my mild respect for the guy. Even if it doesn’t quite come off in the details, at least enough is left that I think a good deal of the power of the story survives.

    geoffreyjar — agree 100% on the music. We should all be ashamed at having listened to it, let alone put it in a film. Yet oddly, despite being THE most cliche choice possible, “The Times…” actually works like a charm for me. Vern notes that he likes the idea of a period soundtrack… fuck, me too. Great idea. But surly there were some other songs from that period which aren’t so iconic that they have lost all independent meaning. I think if we really think about we might be able to come up with some songs from that period which might have been a little less overbearing…

  112. Well, maybe Chud and some of those guys were overly worshipful of Snyder, but I’ve never seen anybody compare him to Kubrick. And I don’t think most of his fans know who Bergman is. Just because some marketing team got the idea to call him “the visionary director of 300” on the poster I don’t think we need to get upset. In the long run I think it has improved my life because now I like to call every director “the visionary director of” whatever their last movie was.

    I think you’re being too hard on 300 too just because some people got, uh, too hard from it. At the very least it’s a unique movie and since you brought it up I think he deserves credit for making a green screen movie that doesn’t look flat like SIN CITY. I agree that he hasn’t proven himself great, but he at least has solid filmatic chops and all of his movies have been interesting so far and have his imprint on them despite being based on other works.

    Anyway just because we think somebody loves the guy too much doesn’t mean we have to hate him to even it out. We should focus more on our own reactions to the movies than to somebody else’s. People are always gonna go overboard on the internet. Actually it’s kind of nice if they’re being overly positive about something. I’m tired of reading talkbacks on Ain’t It Cool and some of these places and wondering if there’s anybody left on the internet who’s not a hateful, joyless, miserable grump who can’t write a half sentence without sliding into rants about his lifelong vendetta against some guy for making a movie he loved and then later making another one he didn’t.

  113. Vern – I think unlike AICN or any of those zoos, we’ve behaved and respected each other. Heavy disagreement? Oh yes, but what’s wrong with that? An articulated discussion is good for everyone, and even if I think Snyder is an impotent stud (all flair, no substance), I don’t belittle anyone who likes him or his pictures.

    What gets those zoos upset is when someone…OMG disagrees with them. Well jeez, no shit. Welcome to life.

    Vern, your favorite Seagal movie is OUT FOR JUSTICE. That one is good, but my #1 Ponytail is UNDER SIEGE. I think SIEGE is a better-crafted film overall, but I get why you prefer OUT.

    I remember when I was at CHUD about two years back, I was posting how Darabont’s THE MIST just….didn’t do anything for me. Yeah I get the supposed thematic intentions and ambitions, and they’re good. Not a bad film technically either, but they just didn’t work for me, or thrill or excite or involve me in this siege story.

    And every disagreeing response, none were civil like here Vern. All those postings bitched at me for daring to disagreeing with the group opinion, which was that THE MIST was a good blowjob. None tried to discuss or maturely debate with me. They were just mad that I pissed in their little clean pool of thought. Or to put this another way, let me give you an example:

    “Stephen King liked it, what the fuck do you know?”

    Well I know his movie “version” of THE SHINING sucked compared to Kubrick’s. Haven’t seen MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, but hey Emilio Estevez and AC/DC music…it might be fun?

  114. Mr. Subtlety – Would you respect David Lynch for risking his then arthouse/Oscar reputation on DUNE, or that he brought it to the big screen?

    Get my point? To an extent I suppose you can respect someone for attempting this or that, but that extent is very very limiting. Either that “ambition” is fulfilled or not.

    Lets use two quick examples: Remember TRON? Breakthrough “CGI” animated movie, blah blah. I like TRON, but not because of the historical context. I respect what that crew could and did do with 1982 computer technology, try to push the visual narrative of sorts like STAR WARS did…if not as successful or enjoyable.

    But I like TRON ultimately because I thought many scenes, specifically that light cycle race, were well-cut/executed (especially considering this was before they figured out how to combine live-action with CGI in the same shot), I enjoyed the adventure (even if the story is razor-thin) and hey Jeff fucking Bridges.

    But if not for all that, I wouldn’t give a goddamn about this tech hallmark or that upcoming sequel Disney is making. And notice some people don’t, because they didn’t like TRON.

    Second example, one we’ve discussed before…The Clash’s SANDINISTA!

    We both admit, it doesn’t totally work and there is alot of “experimental” (i.e. filler) tracks but why do we both dig the shit out of it? Because what does rock is…well, alot. Many fucking kick-ass tracks of varying genres and tempos. I mean yeah its kinda cool they were able to muster out a 3-LP album at a budget prize, and attempted a world music collection (for better or worse.)

    But in the end, if not for say “Somebody Got Murdered” and “The Street Parade” and “The Magnificent Seven” and so forth, why should we care about SANDINISTA! ?

    I brought up ONE FROM THE HEART earlier. That whole film, from the casino and Las Vegas street scenes and even the “outdoor” shots were all produced inside Coppola’s studio. Cool huh? Yes its neat. But its still a mediocre movie. Great soundtrack though, wished it was supplied for a more deserving picture.

  115. Vern what about the articles themselves? Harry, Quint, Mr Beaks and all the rest are still sort of breathlessly in love with movies and on a constant high and filled with optimism.
    As for Snyder I don’t think people are giving him enough credit. 300 is flawed sure, but I don’t think it’s as empty-headed as some people seem to say. The whole subplot about TV Sarah Connor getting into it with the Senate is completely free from the book and there are a bunch of character arcs that are independent to the film, which is more then you can say for Sin City, which makes it more interesting to rewatch.

  116. Brendan – Every person I know who likes 300….not one of them mentions that (useless) subplot as one of the reasons they like 300. In fact the general consensus with that brood is that it was just extra melodrama filler to get the woman in the audience involved. If it was cut out, nobody would miss it.

    See, my high opinion of Snyder’s auteurship began way before WATCHMEN.

    Then again Brendan, Snyder is getting alot of credit. To quote John Carpenter: “The best reviews you can get are at the box office.” Last I checked, his DAWN OF THE DEAD was a hit, his 300 was obviously a hit (and pissed off the Iran government, which was cool), and well WATCHMEN kinda stalled in theatres but not a wet stinky bomb some made it out to be necessarily.

    So don’t worry about Zach Attack. He’s far from Cimino territory. For now.

  117. I think my post got dumped but I wanted to make one last shot at defending the music. I think using “iconic” songs is the whole point in some of those cases. If it was some obscure b-side from the period it might sound cool, but it would be meaningless. It’s the fact that it’s THAT song that makes the whole montage work, because you’re looking at the history of America and yet you got the blue guy and the lesbian super hero kissing the nurse. At least in the case of the opening credits it HAS to be a familiar song to show the contrast of the familiar with the watchmenian. (that’s a real word, I promise.)

  118. That makes sense I suppose, Vern.

  119. I don’t hate Snyder or am asking others to hate him. I’m just asking why do some people (ie nerds) get so damn hyperbolic. That comparing him to Kubrick & Bergman thing is an exaggeration of coarse, but with how some of these guys go on about him, they just about stop at that compliment.

    As stated I don’t hate Snyder, or dislike him. I have no reason to dislike him as a person. Like many, many things what I do not like is his fans. I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to how fans ruin stuff. Example: I strongly doubt I would have hated the first live-action ‘Transformers’ movie so much if it wasn’t for it’s rabid fans telling me I’m ‘stoopid’ so much (yet every problem I had with the film they bitched about with the sequel, go figure). If it wasn’t for them I would have just be greatly disappointed in the film because I did really want to like it. But no everywhere I went I was ridiculed for disliking it. Same thing happened earlier this year with ‘Friday the 13th’. I didn’t like it all that much but yet my whole class (a college class with ‘adults’) treated me as if I were a Republican at a Liberal convention.

    In fact alot of shit I get negatively overly emotional/nerdy about stems from the fans acting like assholes.

    I’m sometimes ashamed to call myself a fan of ‘The Matrix’ sequels and Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk’ (and I guess ‘Star Wars’ counts too) because most of my fellow supporters are complete assholes. “You stoopid!1 You don’t understand so you no like!” I mean goddamn, sometimes people can understand something and still not like it. Example: I ‘get’ some David Lynch & art house films (as much as one can ‘get’ I suppose). Even though I know what they are going for or what they are trying to say, I still don’t like it.
    -Now-a-days “You don’t understand it” is replaced with “You just don’t know how to have fun!”

    So what I’m trying to say is: “fans” need to chill the fuck out.

    -with that I direct towards myself as well because re-reading my prior rant I come dangerously close and maybe even spill into what I’m ranting against now (summary of prior rant: “I don’t like Snyder so neither should you! *raspberry*) Only defense I give myself that’s not much of a defense is that whole ‘lowering of standards thing’ I’m usually the optimistic one telling people to shut the hell up about ‘the sad state the movie industry is in’ and point out silly things like history to prove that it’s not all that different from what it once was and how they need to take the nostalgia glasses off. But then things like ‘Transformers’ being set as the benchmark for which all action movies should be measured happens and then AICN & the other fellow nerds talk about Snyder as if he’s the modern-day director by which all directors should be compared to now happens and I re-evaluate my stance on ‘the state of the film industry’.
    -not saying you can’t like/love them, mind-you but goddamn…

    And the whole entirely shot on green screen not looking flat like Sin City thing was done previously with Star Wars Episode III, in my opinion at least. So I can’t give Snyder credit for that with ‘300’ either. (please don’t turn into a Star Wars talkback again…)

  120. -the previous was to be posted last night but the site suddenly went down or something

    I didn’t mind the opening credits. Sure it’s as obvious as the other’s (you see, the timeline is changing so he used the song “The Times They Are A-Changing”, clever) Hell I didn’t even mind the opening using “Unforgettable” synced to the fight.

    But by the time they started playing “99 Luftballons” I had enough of it and then they played “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” I pretty much wanted to get up and walk out.

    Years ago when “Bewitched” came out Moriarty complained about that particular movie’s cutesy soundtrack. The film contained a bunch of songs with the word ‘witch’ in them. His complaint was basically ‘That’s the kind of imagination we’re dealing with here. The movie is about a witch. So they play songs with the word witch in them.’ (paraphrase of coarse and naturally he had no such complaints with ‘Watchmen’ and praised every last single thing about the movie)

    But that’s my problem with the soundtrack. Like RRA has been trying to say, Snyder’s contributions/gaps are lame and detract. If Snyder made an adaptation of ‘Mississippi Burning’ he’d probably play ‘Disco Inferno’ when they throw down the burning cross. That’s the jist of his imagination, to use an obvious song and then he’s praised as the worlds’ most imaginative/visionary director ever. Because he played ‘All along the Watchtower’ to a scene were two characters walk to a watchtower. See the scene involves a watchtower, so he plays a song with the word watchtower in it.

    This is what constitutes great film-making now a days?

  121. I’ve never seen people this worked up about musical cues in a movie before. I’m kinda surprised that it bothered people so much, although I understand your complaints.

    I’m on Vern’s side here though. The songs needed to be iconic, otherwise Snyder might as well have stuck to the score. Much of the subtext of the film is how the presence of superheroes/masked avengers have reshaped American culture, including pop culture. That’s the whole point of the awesome credits scene, where numerous iconic American images of recontextualized to include superheroes (my favorite being the Andy Warhol paintings).

    So I guess I understand if some of you felt the song choices were a little too on the nose, even if that was the point, although I don’t think it’s so distracting or damaging to the film as a whole. I mean, it’s not as if when Veidt says they’re already to late to stop him, a record scratches to a halt and then “I Feel Good” starts playing or something.

  122. Sometimes a song’s title or theme is why that song is used. Remember the ending to GOODFELLAS? Cue the Sid Vicious cover of “My Way.”

    But you know, that was also a kickass great song. And Scorsese always has an ear for music.

    Snyder? Yeah….I’m tired of beating that dead horse.

  123. Vern — on the subject of the music, I agree completely that “Times…” is pretty much perfect for the opening. You’re right, the very point of it is that it IS an iconic song which is juxtaposed to cool effect with equally Iconic images from this other imagined version of time. It’s kind of an obvious choice, but as it happens, it works perfectly, and is the best sequence in the movie. I think you kind of open yourself up to charges of being overwhelmingly literal when you try something this straitforward, but it’s also kind of ballsy, and, as it happens, it works.

    But the other songs used in the movie seem, to me, anyway, like they’re just so… obvious and cliche. You know, it’s like back in the old days, when they used to make music videos and show them on TV… I always thought it was the lamest thing in the world when the video just pretty much literally depicted every lyric. I mean, except in a few cases, I’d like to think a song has a little more meaning than the sum of its words.

    That’s kinda what I saw in “Watchmen”. Every time a new theme came up, it was the most obvious possible song choice, and always, without exception, a huge famous song which by this point has been so culturally saturated that it’s kind of impossible to regain its original context. Hell, I don’t think there’s a single song on the whole soundtrack which you can’t find on at least a dozen other movie soundtracks. And unlike “Times…” I don’t feel like the others were meant to convey to us the alternate iconography of the universe. It might have been better if they’d been playing in-scene, so we got a sense of what people were listening to; that might have made sense, then. But instead, it certainly seems to me that the music is intended as a regular soundtrack, to assist the tone of the scenes, etc… and each song is just so criminally overused that putting it in a movie is almost like parody at this point (even if they’re still great songs independently). That’s why I think a period soundtrack of songs with a little less culture baggage (and a few less literal interpretations) would have made for a much better attempt.

    Now, like I said, “The Time’s…” works like a charm. Keep that sucker in there at all costs. But as song after song kept being more and more literal, obvious, and overused…. eventually it just got ridiculous, and, finally, hilarious. A real mood-killer for me, anyway.

  124. RRA- yeah, I getcha, man. I’ve been very mildly defending Snyder because I thought he at least put in a good faith effort, even thought he was just fundamentally the wrong guy for the project. Even when he fails, I just kind of felt like he was really trying his hardest to make a great “Watchment” so I thought it was a little unfair to just say he half-assed it or didn’t care.

    On the other hand, that’s kind of like saying you thought George W. Bush made a good faith effort at being a good president. Yeah, nice try, asshole. Sometimes it’s NOT the thought that counts, its the results. So, I can see your point.

    One thing I do think is kinda cool about the movie though is that a bunch of people, myself included, are swinging back and forth in this forum
    between defending the film and condemning it. Hardly ever see people who have such strong feelings on BOTH sides of one issue!

  125. Okay, so I did just watch the blu-ray of the director’s cut and I do feel it is a significant improvement over the theatrical cut which I saw in theatres.

    I was scared it would add more of the shit I hated and hoped it would add more of the stuff I liked. My hopes were answered.

    I still have the same problems with it, but the annoying use of well-known music is far less annoying in this cut. This cut puts more distance between the uses of songs and so the whole thing doesn’t feel like it’s going from one music video montage to the next now.

    Originally I felt the first third was rushed and bungled, the middle third was perfect, and the last third was uneven and also bungled. Now I think the first third is less rushed and not so bungled. The other two thirds remain the same.

    It suffers from a very minor case of the addition of some pointless shit, typical of director’s cuts. But I do feel this version gives the characters more room to breathe and some moments more room to build and make impact.

    If I live another twenty years I may revisit the film at that time or when it is remade. Whichever comes first. But it is still not a film that made a huge impact impact on me and with which I have some creative bones to pick. So I doubt I’ll watch it again any sooner.

    When the fuck is Billy Crudup going to get an Oscar?

  126. Hey, I didn’t know Dr. Manhattan was getting his own game….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdFstm_kJzU

  127. WATCHMEN: BIGGER, LONGER, BLUER

    This Ultimate Cut involving pirate cartoons and newstand guys is by far the best version of this film for me. With this cut the movie finally has a form to it. By cyclically coming back to the pirate cartoon and the newstand it helps the film feel more like a three part thing instead of the kinda one long disjointed thing it felt like to me in the two previous cuts. At 3.5 hours it feels like you just put in a television series on DVD and let the episodes all keep rolling. Finding a structure for this story was always going to be a problem in film adaptation, but this format preserves the serial installment feel of the comic book.

    And like the director’s cut, it serves to put even more distance between the groan-inducing moments and cheesy parts that I didn’t like. I will say that none of the two expanded cuts have added anything I didn’t like, except maybe a line where a little girl thinks The Nite Owl is Jesus. I don’t remember that being in the two previous cuts. But other than that, the expansion of this movie has only added stuff I like. And the action moments do just feel like violent moments in bigger character story now as opposed to how this film used to kinda feel like it wanted to be an action movie but also think a bit too.

    So I have now won my battle to enjoy this film. This cut is one that I feel like I can revisit on a semi-annual basis and really savour it.

  128. Jesus, how many cuts does thing have?

  129. I still refuse to watch this movie, doesn’t matter how “complete” it is now. I know it’s stubborn and imdbmessageboardesque, but 300 burned me too much to touch a Zack Snyder movie that early again. Maybe his next one, depending on the trailer.

  130. CJ: Is it Snyder your beef is with, or just WATCHMAN-adapting in general? I mean, 300 was pretty shallow, but it had shallow (if enjoyable) source material to begin with…

  131. Jam: Well, I say 75% Snyder, 25% Watchmen adaptation. I liked his DOTD remake, but 300 made me angry while watching it, because of the unbelievable annoying dialogue (I seriously turned the sound off at one point. It’s the best example why you sometimes can’t put dialogue 1:1 from another medium into a movie.) and the visual style. I never thought that anybody can overuse slow motion shots in the way Zack Snyder did there. It felt like I was watching a YouTube video from a kid, who found out how to use slow motion in its cracked copy of Adobe Premiere and now had to do it every three second, just because it can! The movie is supposed to be one big action scene, but there was no action! It stopped every few seconds for ANOTHER: “wink-wink-nudge-nudge you see that? It looks exactly like in the comic book! I even slowed the whole movie down, so that the geeks can go ‘Woah, that looks exactly like in the comic book’.”
    And about Watchmen, well…all the clips I saw not just featured the same, stupid, clueless use of slow motion, Snyder now also seemed to be so obsessed with “It looks exactly like in the comic book”, that some of the shots I saw, looked more like actors were posing for a photo, instead of playing a scene in a movie! It just brings back bad flashbacks of the one evening, when I watched 300.
    And of course I think that it’s unnecessary to make a Watchmen movie these days. Sorry, but the comic book didn’t age well, although it’s only because every 2nd Superhero comic or movie is some kind of deconstruction (or parody) of the genre. When it came out it was fresh and shocking, but now that the “flawed superhero” is pretty much mainstream, what’s the point in doing a movie about the comic book that started it all 20 years ago?

  132. Yeah CJ Holden I wouldn’t worry about Snyder, the guy is a visual stylist, but I don’t think he really gives as much thought towards the politics of the stuff he adapts. You can clearly see that in Watchmen, where you can tell he loves and understands Rorschach, Dan and even Dr. Manhattan in places, but with guys like Ozymandias he’s completely lost. Give it a watch man, what could it hurt?

  133. CJ Holden- I wouldn’t worry about that stuff. The Snyder-isms you pointed out make up maybe 5 minutes of the 3 hour run time (Director’s Cut). The vast, vast majority is people talking and arguing and struggling with their inner turmoils. The trailers with the slo-mo, posed shots, they took the least important aspect of the movie and beefed it up. Every once in a while, there is some unintentional comedy in the slow motion (Laurie turning from the fire cracks me up for some reason). I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss 3 hours of masterful, intelligent filmmaking because of those brief goofs. Shit man, watch the movie for Jackie Earle Haley’s masterpiece of a performance as Rorschach.

    P.S. The dialogue in 300 is Godawful, it is also, with rare exception, word-for-word what Miller wrote. I don’t mind that though, because to me, there isn’t nearly enough empty-headed FUN machismo in the movies. Leonidas’ dialogue isn’t akin to Gladiator or something like that, it belongs alongside Conan telling God to fuck off and Rambo growling “Mission Accomplished” before slamming the knife down. I can understand why it is fingernails on chalkboards to some people but I eat that shit up.

  134. Well I enjoyed it. :( Could it have been done better? Yeah, much; but I think what was there worked well for the most part.

    (I’m obviously talking about “Watchmen” here, not “300”, which I haven’t seen.)

  135. Brendan: Like I said, the dialogue in 300 is the best example why you sometimes can’t adapt dialogue 1:1 into a movie. I’m sure the lines fit all perfectly into speech balloons and they work there, but as dialogue in a movie? Fuck no!

  136. I liked the dialogue in 300. I thought it was awesome macho bullshit all the way, and often really funny. The humor might have been unintentional, but I like to think it was intentional.

  137. 300 was a movie that really did not hold up to repeat viewings, but fuck me, I had a blast watching that thing the first time in the cinemas and I’m fine with the fact that some movies are fun but just not classics.

    As for Watchmen. Like I was saying about this Ultimate Cut which I purchased and just watched, nothing it adds is a Snyderism. The theatrical cut of this film had the highest ratio of music video bullshit to actual filmmaking of any of the three cuts out there.

    A lot of people (like the Vern review on which we are talkbacking) kinda admitted the film was flawed but supported it out of a respect for the film’s obvious ambition. Some other more boneheaded reviews simply said they supported it because it had a bunch of R-rated shit in a superhero movie. (That’s one of the same lame arguements people try to convince me that Judd Apatow is worthwhile.) But I just couldn’t get on board with either of those opinions. This new cut does have all the same music video bullshitisms as the theatrical cut, but I guess they are now dilluted or contextualized enough for me to appreciate the film and give it my qualifier-free support.

  138. Russell Jones

    May 8th, 2010 at 1:52 am

    My original review 3.5 out of 5.

    “Watchmen is a movie based on the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and is set in an alternate reality in 1985 New York City. It attempts to deconstruct the myth of the superhero genre.
    I’ve read the graphic novel which is multi-layered and relies on flashbacks to propel the main narrative. So I was eager when news of a film adaptation was announced. However the director behind the project is Zac Snyder whose previous efforts I didn’t like.
    So with that in mind I knew it wouldn’t be like Christopher Nolan’s take on the Dark Knight but more like an highly excitable fan boy who had got their wish to direct this movie. To be fair Zac has done well with the source material and stayed faithful however his technique of highly stylized violence and the slowing and speeding up of images can get a bit tiring and is more in style to Sin City then how I personally imagined Watchmen to be like.
    I envisaged Watchmen to be realistic in it’s portrayal of it’s characters and in the novel you assume the only character with genuine superpowers is Dr Manhattan yet in the movie every fight scene is hyper real with characters exhibiting superhuman strength which is confusing to say the least. This is a minor quibble.
    The film is long and still manages to omit exposition necessary for the plot and requires inferences which is difficult if you haven’t read the source material. For example Hollis Mason is introduced and it is never explained that there are two Nite Owls. Why introduce the character when he is necessary in the comic as he is killed in the novel and is part of Dan’s idesire to return to the world of superheroes but this doesn’t happen in the movie. It’s unnecessary.
    Minor criticism’s first. The only error in casting for me Is Ozymandias’s character. He is supposed to be an Olympian style Adonis like figure who is the smartest man in the world but comes across as a bitter public school boy who lost on University Challenge.
    The one other omission from the novel which I can’t go into as it would reveal too much is the absence of a tentacled foe. I can see why this is omitted but in the comic the secrecy of this operation is more because of what it involves.
    Overall I enjoyed the movie. Yes it is flawed and overlong.Some of the dialogue is clunky and Sublety is definitely out of the window but it remains faithful to the novel and I would like to see the longer cut which would iron over any plot holes. “

  139. AU_Armageddon

    May 8th, 2010 at 2:55 am

    Clunky? Overlong? Fuck you! Man, perhaps you should tell Zac that there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect. Best for all if I just walk away from this one…

  140. So Snyder claims he made WATCHMEN to “Save it from the Terry Gilliams of the world,” and that his films are much smarter than people give them credit for (unfortunately he doesn’t seem to go into detail as to why).

    It’s an interesting thing to think about, because of course I think most of us agree that Snyder made the whole story significantly dumber. But Gilliam’s proposed ending cited by Joel Silver doesn’t sound too hot either; in fact it sounds like a bunch of trite postmodern hokum. The question remains, is Snyder smart enough to know that, or did he just not like that it deviated from the comic in a way which he didn’t understand?

    The mystery of just how smart Snyder really is lives on.

    http://www.avclub.com/article/zack-snyder-says-he-made-watchmen-save-it-terry-gi-201743?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=Default:1:Default

  141. I have gladly paid to see & re-see all of Zack Snyder’s features,

    whereas you’d have to pay me to rewatch any of Terry Gilliam’s.

    Intellect is overrated.

  142. Sometimes, but then again, sometimes superficiality is over-excused. I dunno, I think Snyder made a WATCHMEN which has some high points, but also diminishes the overall impact by failing to value nuance. Given his reply, though, it seems like he disagrees; I was wondering if anyone wanted to defend the idea that his films are deeper than they appear.

  143. I’ll take that challenge. I find new layers in SUCKER PUNCH every time I see it, which is fairly frequently. I think subtlety is often mistaken for complexity, which can make Snyder’s boldness seem like simplicity.

  144. No exaggeration, I’d trade in every other movie I own before I gave up my copy of SUCKER PUNCH.

    My Sight & Sound Top 10 Films of All Time ballot would be 7 Kubricks, 1 Mann, 1 Verhoeven, + SUCKER PUNCH.

    It’s a movie that does everything I want art & entertainment to do.

  145. I own all of Gilliam and Synder’s films. BRAZIL is better crafted and more entertaining than all of Snyder’s work put together.

    SUCKER PUNCH is a creatively bankrupt series of videogame cut-scenes with an insipid framing device.

    WATCHMEN remains one of the most overrated comics of all time. It can’t even play second fiddle to THE SQUADRON SUPREME. Maybe fifth chair. Snyder’s adaptation has it’s moments and some great imagery but there’s only so much you can do with such boring and pretentious material.

    Snyder’s best film to date is DAWN OF THE DEAD, an endlessly entertaining spin on the original with great bursts of momentum and funny character moments.

  146. I like Snyder just fine and but I think some of you guys are giving him way too much credit. He may have some good ideas, but as far as I can tell he’s not very good at communicating them. Whenever I hear him discussing the deeper themes and messages of his movies in interviews or commentary tracks I’m usually completely baffled. Whatever substance he’s trying to put in there is undermined by his desire to make everything look “awesome” at all times.

  147. I’d give anything for more filmmakers to “desire to make everything look ‘awesome’ at all times.”

    Other motherfuckers just don’t have the sand, though. Restraint is for pussies.

  148. Having recently rewatched both WATCHMEN and SUCKER PUNCH, I can tell you there is not one single shot in either film that isn’t loaded with references to something outside itself. Not all those references are necessarily brilliant, but they’re there, so the viewer’s mind remains constantly stimulated.
    There’s not a moment that passes that doesn’t challenge the meta-existence of its own existence. There’s not a single frame that isn’t bursting with a level of detail that would take other filmmakers years to dream up or, more impressively, to physically realize.

    Terry Gilliam is a rank amateur next to Zack Snyder.

  149. Only seen PUNCH one time and couldn’t connect to the story, but liked the visual journey. Will have to try it again.

    Layers or not in a Snyder joint aren’t really the point. He makes balls-out great action movies. You’d have to be Sigmund Fucking Freud to find a deeper meaning to them. Or Shrek.

    He has used themes that I like – bravery, brotherhood, sacrifice, war, committing adultery for country (300).

  150. Someone please point to a better clip to represent 21st century cinema and[/or] ’80s colorful paranoia:

    http://vimeo.com/28234910

    I’d die to preserve that 5:36 of Dylan music video.
    Other filmmakers would kill to make one segment in their pathetic careers that approaches the beauty & iconic-ness of that credits sequence.

  151. So I hear you guy talking about layers and references, but I genuinely don’t know what you could possibly be referring to. There’s a lot of visual texture in Snyder’s work, which makes it fun and enjoyable, but the claim he’s trying to make is that people have underestimated the substance of his work. Can you give me an example of what he might be seeing that we’re missing? I don’t deny that he’s an accomplished visualist, but I found WATCHMEN the movie to be a pale, superficial reenactment of a tremendously nuanced, complex work. He seems to feel otherwise, though, and I’d be curious if anyone could point out something I’m missing there.

  152. Mr. Subtlety, it’s simple: pay any attention to the SUCKER PUNCH scenes in which Oscar Isaac is speaking.

    He explicates the whole movie and the meta-movie experience as a man in the dark watching women perform.

  153. Oscar Isaac would make a great Freddie Mercury if they went ahead with the QUEEN bio-pic.

    Also Snyder should do a remake of HIGHLANDER.

  154. That Silver/Snyder sniping each other was fucking silly. I mean the movie didn’t do much for me, but dear lord that Sam Hamm script was fucking atrocious. I have to side with Snyder here.

    So did anybody else but me see Silver’s NON-STOP?

    Darren – could Isaac capture Mercury’s hamtastic charisma?

  155. RRA – Isaac did a bit of a song and dance thing in PUNCH which reminded me of a camp-lite Mercury. Who knows? His range hasn’t really been proven yet.

    As for Snyder’s comments about his films being ‘smarter’ and all that, he probly should just keep his mouth shut and make another awesome movie like WATCHMEN and 300.

    I say let Snydes wear his balls on the outside of his pants, and keep his tongue inside his head.

  156. It’s kind of a dumb comparison. Gilliam and Snyder are two gifted filmatists with almost nothing in common other than they both worked on adapting that story. Gilliam’s movie would’ve been totally different, not only made with a completely different mentality but also in a different era with different studio expectations, a different history of super hero movies, a different public understanding of comic books, different filmmaking technology, and he also decided that it wasn’t gonna work anyway. If he had gone through with it I bet it would’ve had none of the badassness, visual beauty or action of the Snyder version, and would’ve been more laughable, but also would’ve had a crazy kick to it that Snyder’s lacks. I bet the costumes would’ve been hilarious also.

    I don’t blame Silver for talking shit, since he spent a long time trying to make the movie, and I don’t blame Snyder for defending his movie which he obviously worked hard on and has reason to be proud of, warts and all, and also because Silver did a really, really bad job of making that ending sound like a good idea, I mean jesus.

    If I had to erase one of these two directors’ body of work I guess I would have to go with Snyder, because you can’t front on Time Bandits, Brazil, Baron Munchausen or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, plus I forget which one of the Monty Pythons he directed but it was good. On the other hand if I had to make one of them stop directing right now that would also have to be Gilliam. Luckily we live in a world where they have both made movies that I love to watch and will continue to do so until some paradox happens where we get sucked into a vortex and become comic book characters.

  157. Hey Mouth, why do you think Veidt had RAMBO II playing on monitors? What would that particular sequel be in a world where we won Vietnam? That’s a brilliant conundrum for me.

  158. while I like the WATCHMEN we got, I do wish I got also hop into an alternate universe and see Gilliam’s WATCHMEN just out of curiosity

  159. I think Gilliam’s had the worst luck developing projects and getting shit-canned along the way. His DON QUIXOTE with Depp was actually looking pretty good from the scenes he got to shoot, before natural disasters among other things struck.

    The LAMANCHA doco was a great insight into that whole movie-making-as-madness process. There was a day when the cast and crew watched a god damn freak flood wash away their entire set. Not as insane as HEARTS OF DARKNESS, but close.

    So ok, Gilliam wears his balls-out too. Welcome to the Balls-Out Club, Terry.

  160. That’d be MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL Vern, plus he directed the Crimson Permanent Insurance but from MEANING OF LIFE. And if you want to talk visual brilliance you can’t leave out 12 MONKEYS.

    I think Mouth is just having some fun trolling us here.

  161. Gilliam’s done brilliant work throughout his career, no doubt there. His Watchmen probably would’ve been an fascinating failure, though. Probably too altered from the source for fans to appreciate, at least at first. Also, I’m kinda so-so on Snyder’s work, but I think in this case he was obviously just being defensive because, regardless of your opinion on the film, his Watchmen was obviously a huge endeavor that he put a lot of time into so it feels like his baby. Which I can totally sympathize with.

  162. Different strokes for different folks. I like the visual flourishes in both director’s films, and I’m always interested in their new projects, aaaaaaand both of them have made movies I couldn’t give two shits for (Bros. Grimm/Sucker Punch).

    WATCHMEN was gonna be trouble for whomever got handed the reigns. The comic casts a pretty wide net, narratively, and Snyder did what he felt necessary to reel it in. That it’s this far along from its release and people are still yammering about it bodes well for its longevity in the collective conscious.

    Lots of people seem (on the internet, at least) to fall into the “It’s awesome!/It’s Shit!” when passing judgment on the film, but my argument was – and continues to be – that it is a GOOD movie. It’s not great, not the second coming, BUT it isn’t an abject failure, either. I’d watch it again, and I’m quite happy to see a film like this get made at all. I’d take WATCHMEN over SUPERMAN (sorry, I mean MAN OF STEEL), that’s for sure.

    And, as to Snyder’s “layering” of subtext… well, it’s there, but it is almost all directly from the comic, so it isn’t as though he came up with it; Dave Gibbons did. And then, Gibbons work was transposed to the screen by Alex McDowell, far and away one of the greatest production designers working in film. But, McDowell was tasked, by Snyder, to be as specific as possible when building the world he wanted to film, because on a visual level Snyder excels at understanding subtext and its importance. Now, as for the layering of emotion, character development and empathy… he’s pretty hit or miss.

    From a storyteller’s POV, I think Snyder’s best decision was also part of the movies biggest fault, which is the ending. And not because there wasn’t a giant squid, but because of a lack of emotional payoff.

    I’ve posted this elsewhere:

    Changing the MacGuffin from squid to Dr. Manhattan works in regards to the language of film’s narrative structure, which should always be tied to your central characters in some way, shape or form. I am not saying that the ending to the comic is somehow lesser or cheaper. I am saying, per respect to the two different mediums, that both endings work.

    I do not, however, concede to believe that the film’s ending is more satisfying than Moore and Gibbon’s original. Within the confines of a script, the ending works, but on the screen it has almost no emotional impact. There is an explosion seen from afar, a bright light, some faceless people disintegrate into nothing. Something that should be an emotional punch to the gut has been turned into a serviceable special effect.

    Where is the aftermath? The carnage? The dead, familiar faces? We see the ruins of a city, only ruins, and then it is off to the third act confrontation. All this horrible death is treated as a footnote. And as for the comic’s familiar ancillary characters, they have nearly been cut completely from the film. I suppose this was done in the hopes of releasing a film with a manageable running time. I can understand that, to a point. Watchmen cost a reported $120 million. Money has to be made. Too bad it is at the expense of an emotional payoff. Veidt’s holocaust is rendered painless to the audience, when it should be devastating, a guileless choice to have made in a film full of such bold storytelling. It more or less flatlines the movie.

  163. Found the full interview with Snyder that the AV club article cites:
    http://io9.com/zack-snyder-explains-how-he-saved-watchmen-from-terry-1535347108

    It’s interesting, because he seems to think people’s complaints with the movie had to do with his dumping the giant squid, which as far as I know almost no serious critic really minds. He says, “The morality tale of the graphic novel is still told exactly as it was told in the graphic novel,” but then also goes on to get curiously meta about it, saying: “And I think if that movie came out now — and this is just my opinion — because now that we’ve had “Avengers” and comic book culture is well established, I think people would realize that the movie is a satire. You know, the whole movie is a satire. It’s a genre-busting movie. The graphic novel was written to analyze the graphic novel — and comic books and the Cold War and politics and the place that comic books play in the mythology of pop culture.”

    It’s a funny thing to say, because I feel like the movie he made in no way supports that interpretation, whereas, ironically, the “Gilliam ending” being discussed really relates almost exclusively to that element.

  164. Fred has so blown my mind with that RAMBO II question/observation that I can’t wait to rewatch WATCHMEN to formulate an answer. It’s so good to have a specific *purpose* when one sits down [again] with a 3 hour movie. I’m a military man; I need a mission to feel like life makes any sense.
    Well done, amigo.

    Here’s the Snyder filmatistic viewing-unpacking experience:

    So many details & micro-details. Better press ‘Pause’ if you want to soak it all in.

  165. He’s talking about the story itself (not just his movie) being a satire, a meta-takedown of superheroes.

    And the reason he focuses on the ending in that interview is because he’s reacting to the notion of Gilliam’s proposed, [intentionally] leaked ending idea. I don’t think Snyder loses sleep over different interpretations/criticisms of his film’s ending’s liberties, but in this case he’s talking specifically about a new revelation from Gilliam’s agent’s fantasy world that Gilliam’s not capable of making reality.

  166. Too much Gilliam in this thread. Remember, this stuff began because of Silver’s remarks, not Gilliam’s. Gilliam chose not to make WATCHMEN, probably for a whole heap of reasons, not the least of which was a screenplay that wasn’t up to snuff.

    The most egregious thing Snyder says, and I wholeheartedly believe this, is in the quote:
    “The morality tale of the graphic novel is still told exactly as it was told in the graphic novel…”

    Well, I beg to differ. I’m not a die hard fan of the comic, but you only have to read it and be paying attention to see where Snyder deviates from the “morality tale” of the comic, and it’s this:

    “Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends,” Dr. Manhattan tells Ozymandias, in the comic.

    Ozymandias is left with no justification for his Machiavellian ways. His actions are mired in ambiguity. Even worse, his solution is told to him to be nothing more than temporary. And this is after several pages of detailed carnage brought about by his plan to “save” people, which is all but absent from the film.

    It is one of the most damning and integral exchanges in the whole ‘Watchmen’ comic.

    There are people that would argue that the importance is the line of dialogue itself, not who says it or how it is delivered. Well, fuck that.

    Instead of the exchange as depicted in the comic, Dr. Manhattan’s line is merely alluded to in a conversation during the film’s epilogue and is delivered by another character all together. It is a complete throwaway moment when it should be anything but.

    I don’t feel like I am being “nitpicky” as much as I feel like I am voicing a very serious flaw concerning the film’s narrative. Also, the fact that this exchange is excised from the film doesn’t mean that the movie is terrible, but I stand by my assertion that it weakens the emotional impact of the climax, itself already hampered by choices in “translation.”

    And, playing devils advocate, but in a world of flying owl ships and blue cocks the size of skyscrapers, how could an intergalactic squid NOT have worked?

  167. Mouth — I know he’s talking about the story itself, and I guess it’s nice that he understands that (or at least thinks he does) but boy, watching the movie you would never guess that the whole purpose here is to undermine the concept of the superhero, which is explicitly Moore’s point. I’m still unsure if Snyder has heard that it’s a “satire”* but doesn’t quite understand the whole concept fully, or if he just loves superheroes too much to go through with it, or if he actually (mistakenly) believes the movie he made reflects the criticism Moore was cultivating in his writing by virtue of it being so closely adapted. That’s at the heart of why I posted the interview to begin with.

    *It isn’t exactly a satire, since I don’t think it’s meant to be funny or ironic, more like a meta-critique of the genre. But I think that’s what he meant.

  168. A director/interpreter need not expound on the irony or meta-satire of the thing, as the story itself is self-satirizing.

    When The Comedian openly asks & accuses everything of being “a joke,”
    or when he chastises Dr. Manhattan for not stopping time or re-constituting the dead, pregnant Vietnamese lady,
    or when he makes the bad guy a sad drunken shoulder to cry on,
    or when Nite Owl 2 gently notes that Nite Owl 1 is regurgitating the same old stories,
    or when “The Times They Are A-Changing” scores & frames a story about a dude who doesn’t experience human-Earth time but woos 2 different generations of hot babes,
    etc.,
    that’s your big hint.

    Faithful transcription from ink to cinema was the right move.

  169. That credits sequence is a thing of beauty. It’s a great example of something specifically cinematic in a comic adaptation (as in something movies can do that comics can’t). I liked Watchmen well enough as a movie, but most of the comic’s strengths don’t translate to the screen even when the scenes are largely visually faithful. I think part of it is that the movie isn’t nearly as faithful to how the comic is written.

    That part isn’t really a fault ascribable to Mr. Snyder or anybody else in the production. It’s just a natural consequence of adaptation. The movie is long as it is and it’s still missing two huge parts of the comic. Cutting the scenes with the two Bernies was sensible, but it totally changes the meaning of the story. All of the remaining POV characters are players in the main plot. Without the perspective of the regular people who get destroyed, it’s a story about a narrowly-averted apocalypse where only one main character dies and the death takes place outside of the massive atrocity that averts it.

    Snyder gets the satire, no doubt, but his version undercuts that element by changing the story so that it’s only about the heroes and villains. It makes their stories important and the stories of the people who die in New York unimportant. As an adaptation, it looks about right, but it kind of misses the point.

    I quite like Gilliam, but I think that he made the right choice when he gave up on Watchmen. That script (which I gather is probably not his fault either) being produced in the 80s would have made for something much worse than what we got later. Based on things he’s said about how it would have had to be a miniseries in order to fit everything in, I gather that his concerns were probably similar to mine.

  170. Man, I never knew people had a problem with the lack of character development for the people who died in the blast at the end! I watched this again recently and the end still had an impact on me since a) you almost never see the heroes fail/the bomb go off at the end of one of these movies, and b) i think that image of the newstand guy trying to futilely shield the boy from the blast was a powerful one. I think Rorshach’s prison psychiatrist gets vaporized too? Poor guy. (Also, I can’t remember how it goes but since the theatrical cut doesn’t have the whole Hollis Mason-gets-murdered subplot, couldn’t you argue Hollis died in the blast?)

    I dunno, I’m one of those people who thinks the scene in Die Hard 2 where McClane fails to save that entire plane of people was fine as is – I didn’t need him finding that doll head in the wreckage; we know what the terrorists did was a horrible, horrible thing. On a similar note, the end of T3 was literally jaw-dropping to me – it was similarly “bloodless” and none of the main characters died but it was still powerful stuff, mainly because again, we’re not used to seeing movies end like that (and the first 7/8 of T3 was so jokey that you kinda can’t believe the ending went there).

  171. SofS: “Snyder gets the satire, no doubt, but his version undercuts that element by changing the story so that it’s only about the heroes and villains. It makes their stories important and the stories of the people who die in New York unimportant. As an adaptation, it looks about right, but it kind of misses the point.”

    Yeah, to me that’s the heart of what Snyder misses. He gets some of the puns and references to other superheroes, but he doesn’t seem to understand that the whole point of WATCHMEN is to attack the whole concept of the superhero from the ground up. All the so-called “heroes” are self-centered, wretched failures, and the only one who actually accomplishes something that makes the world a better place does so by perpetrating unimaginable horrors. But there’s nothing in Snyder’s presentation of the material that would make me think he understands that. You get every reason to suspect that he actually thinks Rorshach is the hero of the story, where Moore clearly sees him with *at least* comparable contempt as he sees Veidt.

    I care about that a lot more than I care about the predictably bloodness bomb at the end. Yes, it might hit harder if there was a greater sense of the suffering, but I think it gets the point across. The real problem is that the movie fails to communicate Moore’s greater point about how self-serving the entire superhero mythos is, due to the way he portrays his heroes and villains.

  172. I don’t disagree with you about Die Hard 2 or T3 at all, neal2zod. It worked in those cases. In my opinion, it did so because those stories are movies through and through, not adaptations. The big difference is that Die Hard 2, unless I’m missing something, wasn’t based upon a previously-published book with a structure that made the victims on that plane almost as familiar to the reader as McClane himself. I’m fine with the Watchmen movie as is; I’m just interested in how changes like that (which, I want to stress, I understand as being probably necessary in order to get movies made at all) have huge ramifications for the meaning of a story.

    I don’t think that the blast being bloodier would have made a massive difference; it would have made it more horrifying, which would have been appropriate, but it also probably would have been one of those obstacles to getting the thing finished and distributed. If it was possible to push things further, I would rather they had taken more time and had the streets-eye perspective in the movie, as that would have made a bigger difference.

    Snyder is fine by me. I don’t disbelieve that he understands the comic. I just think that the choice of what to cut tells you something about his priorities. I think he sees Watchmen as being a satire about superheroes, whereas I see it as a story about powerlessness and finding meaning in the face of it. That’s why I’m focusing on the news-stand parts. The people in that part of the story are basically doomed one way or the other; by the end of the story, nuclear war is immanent, and the solution that stops it for the time being still kills them. Nite Owl II and Rorschach, accidentally manage to save only themselves by tracking Veidt down and trying to stop him. Veidt himself talks a big game about making himself feel the weight of all of those deaths, but this supposed empathy doesn’t actually impact anything that he does; at the end of it, he’s still alive and basically unhurt, with his massive power and wealth all still intact. The heroes and villains, the heads of nations; they’ll all live through these conflicts because they have a measure of power and/or importance (to Dr. Manhattan, if nobody else, and he trumps everybody else). It’s regular people like the Bernies and anybody who is actually reading the comic or watching the movie that get killed in these games of power.

    My point is, I guess, that it’s a story about what can be done that actually matters when you and everyone you know may well be doomed. The movie is missing much of that, so it’s hard to think of it as a full adaptation.

  173. Excellent point and well-put, SofS. I only read Watchmen once and it was A LOT to take in, so I definitely forgot/mis-remembered alot of the man on the street parts and never gave a second thought to the emphasis on the themes you talk about. I can see now why you’d be disappointed in an adaptation that (necessarily) cherry-picks which themes to explore and which to leave out.

    Speaking of which, anyone ever play the Watchmen Prequel video game “The End is Nigh?” It’s kind of a Double-Dragon-esque beat-em up with Rorschach and Nite Owl II beating the shit out of gang members, pimps and (later) prostitutes. It got savaged in reviews (and I’m sure it’s sacrilege to anyone who holds the comic dear, as *SPOILER* the storyline makes you turn against your partner at the end (i.e. the story ends with Nite Owl or Rorschach literally attempting to murder the other guy – I’m glad they kissed and made up before the movie’s timeline began!)

    It is dumb fun, however, and they somehow managed to get Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley to voice their characters. Haley is awesome but Wilson is awesomely bad, over-doing his “square guy” voice like a bad SNL skit. It’s all kinds of wrong but his voice work kind of makes the game.

  174. grimgrinningchris

    March 6th, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    I don’t see how it’s missing any of that.
    I also don’t think not explicitly showing the gruesome aftermath diminishes anything. We know what happened. We saw it happen to the characters we knew. That’s like saying the kills in TCM had no impact because there was no gore onscreen- and we all know that’s not the case.

    And I actually think that Snyder’s ending is BETTER than Moore’s. it actually makes more sense in the context of the story. There was so much lead up in the comic to pinning the thing on Manhattan. If all he needed to do was get him off the planet so he wouldn’t interfere all be would have had to do was kill Laurie. Not The Comedian. To say nothing of all the other machinations. But no, he went out of his way to not only publically try to show Manhattan as not just dangerous, but unstable- publically showing the first emotion ever expressed and that emotion being RAGE. Plus, it makes more sense for the world to unite against Manhattan than a nameless and (literally) faceless alien threat. Manhattan, they at least THINK they know and sort of understand. Some completely random alien threat- not at all. What is it? Where did it come from? Are there more of them? Did it even mean to come here and cause this destruction? Who knows? Seems to me that kind of confusion and mystery would cause a fear and panic and paranoia that would cause everyone to become even more withdrawn to their own and suspicious, not band together. To me the actual end result really IS the same as in the comic but it makes more sense and ties everything together better (and doesn’t make Veidt over complicate his own plot.

    Now that doesn’t mean I think Snyder is smarter than Moore. Just like Darabont isn’t smarter than King (with The Mist) but a little distance from the story and a bit of hindsight saw a way for both of them to end their adaptations better than their sources.

    I’ve probably seen ever major superhero comic adaptation since Batman 89 on opening day, or at the very least opening weekend. Always excited, always hopeful that they’ll be great- and I think Watchmen is the best (non Incredibles) superhero movie ever made. But then I’m the guy who actually likes the Daredevil directors cut, so what the fuck do I know? Heh…

  175. The thing that bothered me about the plot to pin the destruction on Manhattan is that, even though he’s no longer ‘human’, he’s American-bred and has basically been used as a weapon in Vietnam – It seems like that wouldn’t alleviate global tensions so much. Whereas I can see how a totally mysterious non-human, alien threat beyond our understanding could maybe put things into perspective for the governments of the world.

  176. In Snyder-related news, ANOTHER 300: RISE OF THE REGENERATION REDEMPTION: REQUIEM is shockingly entertaining. It’s dumber than a pillowcase full of doorknobs, but it’s structured well enough to make you buy its pseudo-nationalist hokum for most of the running time, and the CGI-aided, usually speed-ramped combat scenes are intricate, gory, and nearly constant. It does what it says on the tin, and it does it well.

    Let’s check those drive-in totals: 600,000 individual glistening abs. 18 inspirational speeches about freedom by members of the ruling class of a society run almost entirely on slave labor. Multiple desecrated decapitated heads, including Gerard Butler’s. Three recycled seconds of Michael Fassbender looking way younger than you remember. 12,000,000 floating digital embers. One reprise of “This is Sparta.” Two round-trip journeys totaling several hundred miles each undergone in a three-day span, apparently on foot. One single-take, single-man cavalry charge in the middle of naval battle. One fireproof horse. One decidedly not fireproof troll man. Two random liopleurodons, glowy-eyed variety. One sex scene/mutual rape/negotiating tactic. Five straight minutes of angry topless Eva Green. 15,000 onscreen punctured torsos. 700 gallons CGI blood. Three stars. Majestyk says check it out.

  177. “Five straight minutes of angry topless Eva Green”

    wah ho ho ho, you don’t say!

  178. although I’ve already seen everything in THE DREAMERS

  179. grimgrinningchris

    March 7th, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Rymar-
    But with the destruction in NYC, Manhattan being on the side of The Americans is thrown out the window.
    It automatically negates his past with the US and paints him as having no allegiance on earth.

    The new 300, Captain America and Maleficent are the three movies I’m most pissed at not getting to see in a theatre this season (house arrest-ugh).

  180. grimgrinningchris – house-arrest? are you serious? what did you do?

  181. grimgrinningchris

    March 8th, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Drug charges. Typical. Irony being that while FL is in the process of becoming the next state to legalize marijuana, we remain mired in overly strict drug enforcement.

  182. I don’t mean to get too personal, but you were busted for pot then?

    I’m sorry to hear that, but at least you’re not in jail

  183. grimgrinningchris

    March 8th, 2014 at 6:03 am

    No. Painkillers. Developed a pretty serious addiction after turning to them as a coping mechanism when both of my parents got really sick in 2013 and then my addiction went into overdrive after they both died within a few weeks of each other between Thanksgiving and Christmas of that year. Downward spiral from there. I actually DID just spend 2 months in jail and now house arrest (actually its “community control”- same thing really, but I can go to work, counseling and on one shopping trip a week!)
    Thankfully jail cleaned me out and now I’m much much healthier.
    Still seems like overkill when I saw people in for (to me) much more serious “crimes” (assault, domestic abuse, burglary etc…) walking with less.
    This state doesn’t fuck around with Rx meds.

    Not to hijack this topic with my shit though…

    Umm…Rorshach would not have approved of my issue. Sally Jupiter probably would have?

  184. Damn, Chris. That is a spectacular run of spectacularly shitty things to happen to a person. You have the sincere condolences of this snarky motherfucker right here. I’m glad to hear you’re clean and making the best of your situation, even if denying a person the right to see 2THREE 2HUNDRED in the theater sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to me.

  185. grimgrinningchris

    March 8th, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Yeah. Definitely rough. But it could have turned out much much worse. Look at poor Philip Seymour Hoffman. People OD on Dilaudid (it WAS Elvis’s favorite) just as often as heroin.

    Just glad to be home and clean. No desire for the drugs anymore so I’m using my counseling more for grief than addiction. Managed to still keep my apartment AND my job, so that’s a blessing. And my legal fees didn’t cost nearly as much as the retainer I put down – so in July when my house arrest is over, I’m using the refund to take my sister, neice and nephew to Universal/Islands Of Adventure for a few days. Do it up in a nice resort. So plenty to look forward to as well.

    Looking forward to checking out the new Transformers ride (hate the movies, but much like The Mummy franchise, I’m sure it’s still made a great theme park attraction. Plus all the new Potter stuff and the expanded Springfield.

    Back to Watchmen, to whoever said they think Snyder thinks that Rorshach is the “hero”…I don’t think so. While he is the best character and arguably the main protagonist, it’s obvious that Snyder still knows he’s 100% insane and out of line/over the edge.

  186. grimgrinningchris

    March 8th, 2014 at 10:22 am

    The only character shown as wholly benevolent and without serious “sin” is Silk SpectreII, with Nite Owl II a close second but with even him being pushed over the edge by Mason’s murder.
    There’s really no indication of Snyder thinking Rorshach is the “hero”. Definitely the most interesting character and Snyder obviously DID know that.

  187. I guess re: Manhattan, it just seems like since his point of origin is the USA, the threat of Manhattan would be perceived as that country’s fault and not engender much sympathy, but blame instead for unleashing this global threat. Sort of the US getting theirs for using him in Vietnam, perceived as some well-deserved blowback. Also, in the comic I did think the pages upon pages of dead bodies was an effective punch-in-the-gut, so much more visceral than a sterile blast site, which felt dramatically limp and tossed-off.

    I love the graphic novel and all the layers therein to appreciate, thought the beginning of the movie was promising, but ultimately felt like Snyder didn’t really ‘get’ the material beyond a superficial level. Then again, his style doesn’t really jibe with me – I really wasn’t into his Dawn remake, either. Weirdly, I was surprised I really enjoyed Man of Steel (though I felt the upbeat tone of the end, after all that destruction, was a little confused) – it actually had an emotional resonance that Watchmen lacked for me, and didn’t bite off more than it could chew. I thought it was more well-made than it gets credit for, and was an interesting take on the material.

  188. Man, that Dylan intro is suffocatingly powerful.

    I snagged a free copy of Watchmen from a “take a book/leave a book” exchange. Tried to read it at the time but it suffered from “it’s just like the movie you watched but with differences” syndrome. I think I’ve forgotten the film well enough to be able to approach it as its own work at this point. So uh, hold on while I do that and then I’ll let you know who is right and who is wrong about the Snyder adaptation.

  189. Also, Chris, just read other stuff above – sorry to hear about all that heavy stuff you’ve had go on, that’s really rough man. Best wishes your way –

  190. grimgrinningchris

    March 8th, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    The pages of carnage were a punch in the gut. But they were also the first pages of a new issue at the time. Not sure what the original publishing schedule was but I believe it was a few months between issues. So (like the first few pages of each issue) it kinda HAD to be super dramatic since it had to immediately draw you back into the story. Not really needed with a one-sitting telling of the story.
    And you’re not WRONG about Manhattan and neither was Moore. His ending still totally works, I just think Snyder’s works better though the merits of both sides can still be considered strongly and make sense.

    The one major story flaw in the comic AND in the movie (though taking it out of either would completely crumble the whole setting- and Vern actually touches on this) is with us roundly “winning” in Vietnam and the sime existence of Manhattan as a perceived “American”… There would be no Cold War. Until he turned on us too(or until the world THOUGHT) he turned on us, every government on the planet would have simply bowed at our feet. But again… take the Cold War out and the setting and story are out the window so you just kinda have to buy into the conceit and go with it…

    And thanks for the kind words all. For the first time in a long time I actually know Ill be fine now. Sucky, but an impetus for positive change all around. And I still avoided all the worst possible outcomes.

  191. Majestyk – you had me at “topless Eva Green”.

    Good to hear the makers aren’t skimping on the flesh and blood. It’s hard enough to get excited about sequels/prequels when the studios try to PG-13 a successful movie series, like they did with TAKEN 2 and the last two DIE HARD’s. I wish they could see far enough into the future to realise that good movies can have a long life after their cinema run.

  192. grimgrinningchris

    March 9th, 2014 at 10:23 am

    The first TAKEN was PG13 as well.

  193. Only the American theatrical cut. The international version (released unrated on DVD) would have gotten an R if it went out uncut. The torture scene in particular is much harsher.

  194. Really chris? In Australia TAKEN 1 – THE FIRST TAKE is MA15(restricted to under 15’s unless accompanied by an adult), which is a rating down from R18 (restricted to adults 18 and over). The U.S. equivalent of MA15 would be NC17, I think??

    Anyway TAKEN 2 – I’M GETTING TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT was rated M(recommended for 15 and over).

    Maybe we got a HARDER version of part 1. Cause we Aussies are hard. We can TAKE it.

  195. grimgrinningchris

    March 9th, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Yeah, I think I only saw it in theaters and on TV, definitely both PG13 cuts. I’ll have to check out the unrated on DVD.

  196. “Maybe we got a HARDER version of part 1. Cause we Aussies are hard. We can TAKE it.”

    yeah, that’s why every M rated video game is either censored or banned over there, right?

  197. Griff – I’m not a gamer so I’m not up on that world. From memory, the highest rating for a game I’ve seen in a store is MA15. Recently though I noticed a new release game with an R18 rating, so I think there’s been some kinda change. Power to the gamers.

  198. Looking through the recent debate over WATCHMEN, I’m reminded of what Snyder said the other day which peeved off some folks. The big broad point he was making was how he and his team weren’t going to be slavish to the source material and do their own thing, which is reasonable right? But the takeway some people took from that decent interview made was that one line where he said “We know the source material. The fans don’t.” *grimace*

    Sometimes I get the impression that Snyder unintentionally can be his own worst enemy.

  199. What bothers me about the Bluray releases of TAKEN 2 and DIE HARD’s 4 & 5 is that they say on the cover HARDER EXTENDED CUT, which I take to mean there are scenes which have been added, as well as scenes that have been added to, with more violence I guess, but the rating hasn’t changed from the theatrical version. They were M in cinemas, and they are M on Bluray, but tagged as HARDER etc. And I really couldn’t see where they were any different from the theatrical. They still seemed blood-free and sanitized.

    On the weekend I watched PREDATOR again, which has a rating of M also, and it was a ton more brutal and graphic. So I don’t get it. PREDATOR was 27 years ago. TAKEN 2 and DIE HARDS 4 & 5 are recent.(All from 20th Cent Fox by the way). Why are action movies getting cleaned up? I thought we were supposed to be de-sensitized anyway, so what are the studios worried about? That we’ll be offended? I know Vern addressed a lot of these issues a few years ago when DIE HARD 4 came out. I’m still catching up.

    Anyway, I just picked up WORLD WAR Z – (the) EXTENDED ACTION CUT on bluray. Haven’t watched it yet but I have hope because the rating’s gone from the cinema released M which I’ve seen, to MA15 with the advisory of STRONG HORROR VIOLENCE. A zombie movie without gore is like having sex with your pants on. Why bother?

  200. Well, the truth is they’re not really concerned with your ratings system. The different cuts might get the same rating over there, but in America, one will get a PG-13 and the other (if they bothered to have it rated, which isn’t required of them for a video release) would get an R. PG-13 allows millions of kids to see the movie without parental supervision, which means the opening weekend will likely be much bigger. And that is all they care about.

  201. grimgrinningchris – man, that’s a hell of a loss. My condolences. I lost my little brother last November and I know that it’s not an easy road. It’s good to hear that you seem to be a survivor type.

    Regarding Dr. Manhattan and the cold war: remember the text pieces in the comic? There’s that one written by Osterman’s old boss that addresses the issue. Basically, he says that US military intelligence can’t be certain that Manhattan can stop enough USSR missiles to prevent massive damage in the event of World War III, and the USSR is aware of it. Mutually-assured destruction is still in play, though more questionable than it is in the real world.

  202. grimgrinningchris

    March 9th, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks, SofS…really. It was definitely rough and I don’t wish it on anyone. But I chose the worst way to try to cope which just caused more heartache for my family. I’m just glad I didn’t cause the rest of my family to lose someone else. Losing immediate family is a nightmare but one I guess we all have to go through, especially as we all get older.

    As to Manhattan. Yeah, the movie even points out “even if he were to stop 90% of the nukes, the remaining 10%…” Or something like that. But even that is hinging on the idea that he’d wait until they were fired to so anything. He could dismantle all the warheads with his mind from thousands of miles away. He could have teleported himself to Russia and vaporized the whole government…whatever.
    I’m glad they at least address it, but again, I just feel like it doesn’t make sense with Manhattans power…but I’m cool with just going with it for the sake of the story.

  203. I too am sorry to hear about your troubles Chris

  204. Dammit, Chris, that really sucks. Sorry for the late response, but I skipped this discussion, because I really got no interest or anything to add to Snyder’s WATCHMEN.

  205. grimgrinningchris

    March 11th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I just regret not getting to have my own “I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with me!” moment. Heh.

  206. Live your sense of humour chris. Keep rollin.

  207. **love** – not live!

  208. fro the Terry Gilliam AMA on reddit….

    (redditor): How do you feel about Zack Snyder saying he made Watchmen to “save it from the Terry Gilliams of this world”? How much pre-production did you do on the film before the project was abandoned, and what do you think of Zack’s adaptation?

    Terry_Gilliam:
    Charles Mckeown and I wrote the script. I always felt it was not the best way to treat it because trying to squeeze it into 2.5 hours is an unlikely thing. I think we wrote an interesting version of it, but I think it needed more time to really work. I thought Zack’s film worked well, but it suffered from the very problem that I was happy to avoid by not making the film.

  209. grimgrinningchris

    March 13th, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Honestly as a big fan of a lot of Gilliam’s work, I’m glad he didn’t make the movie.
    It’s just not his sensibility at all. And The Brothers Grimm showed us, he doesn’t work well in the traditional studio system and this movie could not have been made close to properly outside that system.

    Now, can we all at least agree (love or hate the movie) that the Nite Owl II costume proves that a viable costume like that can be made with great functionality and range of motion that looks perfectly acceptable on screen without being weighed down by over complication and awkward bulky body armor- despite what the makers/designers on ALL the Batman movies would have us believe.

  210. grimgrinningchris – Yes! Costume designer Michael Wilkinson really knocked it out of the park. His greatest contribution to the film is that Nite Owl II costume.

    I have to admit, I WISH that WB would scale back their Batman costumes to look a little more like the Nite Owl design. Wasn’t there a porno Batman that had really amazing looking costumes? I seem to remember that being a thing.

    If Snyder and WB are mining The Dark Knight Returns for their “older” Batman, it’ll be interesting to see what this iteration will look like. Prob a shit ton of body armor, per usual, but I’ll remain optimistic until the eventual leaked pics surface.

  211. grimgrinningchris

    March 14th, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    The only porno Batman I’ve seen is the one that (fucking EXACTLY- save for the copyrighted [copywrote?] emblem) replicates the 60s show costumes.

    Everything about the Nite Owl II costume is everything a Batman movie costume should be…down to the one piece cowl that still fits the face perfectly, still allows the actor to move his neck and still allows for easy removal without unlatch ing pieces (Nolan’s) or tearing (???) it off (Batman Returns).
    I am a fan of the Burton and Nolan Batmen and both have merit in their costume designs (though both have serious flaws too). The Nite Owl costume fucking nails it though. And *gasp* even sans slo-mo/speed-ramping you can SEE and understand his fighting!

  212. The Nite Owl II armour is pretty wicked. It’s a great look and it makes about as much sense as superhero costumes are ever going to make.

    On Gilliam – I’m glad that he didn’t make his version and it seems like he’s glad too. I think he can be credited with a little wisdom on that one.

  213. Re-reading the book confirms it’s still a classic.
    (Like for reals, you should read this book if you haven’t yet, and you should read it again if you have.)

    Re-watching the movie confirms it’s still gorgeous and slightly flawed but mostly gorgeous.

    The costumed cast[ing] approaches perfection. Seeing Malin Akerman in Children’s Hospital (funny show; thumbs up) somehow retroactively mitigates her questionable performance in WATCHMEN. Actually, wait, what the fuck, she’s great in WATCHMEN. How dare we cast negative judgment on such a prominently nudity-dependent and Seagalian badass-roundhouse-kicking female role. What the fuck is wrong with people that they don’t appreciate her & this movie?

    I don’t know if this film still pisses most nerds off,
    but I do know people are respecting it more now and that time is being kind to it.

    In conclusion go watch BLADE II again but don’t sleep on WATCHMEN.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>