Saturday, March 07, 2009

So, about that Watchmen movie...

Tonight I saw "Watchmen." First, just let me say my experience was colored by a horrific "Family Guy"-esque scene that played out two rows in front of us.* Second, the horrific scene at least provided some entertainment value. Yeah, I'm sorry to report that I'm one of the party-poopers who did not enjoy this movie. Which is too bad because I went into it with an open mind, despite some of the poor reviews, and was hoping to enjoy a good challenging movie.

What I got was a poorly paced tableau that droned on and on with no satisfying resolution or conclusion. Everything was so flat -- the characters, the storyline, everything. I think half the problem was the faithfulness with which Zack Snyder and crew adhered to the story: what works as a multi-part storyline in a graphic novel does not work as a movie. There was nothing to carry the viewer along with the story -- no urgency or emotional undercurrent to keep the action moving. Consequently, the resolution, such as it was, had no resonance.

It didn't help that the pacing was utterly somnolent. I was pulled in from time to time -- during Rorshach's prison stint, the scenes with The Comedian -- but just when I thought the story was finally picking up, it would drop me again two scenes later. And what was up with Dr. Manhattan? Fascinating in the graphic novel, his character was completely devoid of power here.

Watching this film convinced me that everyone who said "The Watchmen" could not and should not be made into a movie were right. What's brilliant social commentary on the page comes out as ham-fisted on the screen, and dialogue that works with two-dimensional characters seems disjointed and trite coming from the mouths of the actors.

I wish I'd enjoyed it more. I swear, I really wanted to like it. Maybe I'll give it another chance when it comes out on DVD but I'll probably have to have a few drinks first. All I can say is, I was very disappointed tonight.


* What happened? Two middle aged burn-outs engaged in serious, gratuitous making out WITH THEIR YOUNG TEENAGE SON SITTING NEXT TO THEM!! And their daughter and her friend sitting in the row in front. Now this wasn't just a little kissing here and there, this was a face-licking, hands-in-mysterious-places acid-washed denim nightmare. That boy is going to need some serious, serious therapy later. Actually, my husband and I might need some too. The horror, the horror...

11 comments:

emily said...

Well, I'm a bit bummed to hear that you didn't like it. aI've heard everything from "It's the most EPIC movie evar" to "People were gagging in the theater" (evidently, some were a bit unprepared for the violence). I'm reserving judgment until I see it on Monday.

Anonymous said...

If I wasn't uncomfortable I would have fallen asleep within 15 minutes. I agree that there were parts that started to grab you but then boom, it became mind numbingly boring. I didn't even make to the end, I walked out. I rarely care about reviews as they are mostly wrong but every review has been spot on, this movie falls flat on it's face. I haven't heard or seen anyone mention the word "epic" unless it was in reference to the movie being an "epic" failure.

techtigger said...

You know, I think this is one of those movies you either love or hate. I personally loved it, and plan on going for a second veiwing. But then, I have a very dark sense of humor, so it's not too surprising that I liked it as much as i did :) I thought the pacing was fine, and they did a good job of distilling the main themes out of the novel. Actually, it was more entertaining than I expected it to be, I thought it was going to be a lot more depressing. (playing hallelujah during the love scene? *snerk!*) And except for Ozymandius, I thought the actors were dead on. It was worth watching just to see Rorshach :)

RedCochina said...

Every time I read a review of a movie you've seen I feel like you're reading my mind. I saw the Watchmen trailer last summer and thought, "This will be the greatest movie of all time!" I was pumped. Then I read the graphic novel and got nervous. I didn't think there was any way movie makers could match the intensity and drama and depict how dark and multi-faceted the characters are. I was sorry to find I was right.

When I read film reviews beforehand, I thought it was great that the director, etc. were following the source material so closely. But walking out of the theater I realized there's a difference between being faithful to the book and being a slave to it. This movie was definitely the latter.

Liz said...

RedCochina, that's the perfect way to describe it. I felt like it was definitely a slave to its source material. I kept sitting there thinking, "I know what scene comes next, and now this scene is coming" and on and on because it just kept in lock-step with the original.

Techtigger, you're right about Rorshach. He was by far the best part. The guy playing Ozymandias though was just terrible. Not at all what I pictured or thought of in the book.

Emily, definitely reserve judgement until you see it for yourself. I think techtigger's probably right: it's going to be a movie people either love or hate. As for the violence, yeah, it's pretty bad -- I'll admit to covering my eyes at one point -- but for the most part, if you've made it through Quentin Tarantino movies or through "300," you'll be fine.

crone51 said...

Yup. Shouldn't have been made.

And I would like to state here and now that I adore the Leonard Cohen song " Allelulia" but if I hear that song used in one more movie or tv show I am going to do something drastic( I am not feeling creative enough right now to come up with a cool drastic thing to do ). My geek daughter and I went to see it. We found ourselves chatting during it ( we sat far away from everyone else) and I found myself wanting to yell things at Snyder like "that is a really dumb approach you're using right now , or" Gods please, not the fraking ' Sounds of Silence'" or " yes it appears you did see 'Apocalypse Now' must you hit us over the head by using the same Wagner"

If I hadn't read the novel ( several times) I never would have had the vaguest idea what was going on.. Different media require different narrative structures ...etc. etc. etc.....

That said the scene on Mars was really pretty. Billy Crudup is really pretty too - it's too bad he had to be big and blue. I thought Patrick Wilson and Jackie whatshisname Hayley were fine. Oh and that Morgan guy is pretty Downey Jr. esque...so that's a good thing....

It may have worked as a very long mini-series by a very good director. Maybe. It's a terrific graphic novel.

emily said...

Saw it and loved it. Didn't think it was "epic" but I wasn't disappointed by much either, and I say that as a total fan of the graphic novel. I'll have to write more about my reaction on the blog...

crone51 - I am soooo with you on "Hallelujah". It was an overdone song, like, four years ago.

crone51 said...

Emily - I am actually going to see it again I think. I spent so much time watching it and looking at is as the novel that I am not sure I really saw the *film* - know what I mean? I do know that I would have used different songs ( I notice songs and music a lot- I seem to be wired that way) -although the choice of "The Times They Are A changing" played while presenting a parallel universe was pretty funny.
Thing was... the novel is wry and subtle- the movie.. not so much. At least from first viewing. I also think he should've tightened up some scenes to make room for a clearer narrative and I also thought the ending was anti-climactic ( I have no problem with the change from the novel though..the original never would have worked on screen)- he seemed to have a problem building up appropriate suspense. I think Snyder has a great eye, is obviously the new special effects dude du jour and maybe his story telling abilities will improve .
So Jeffery Dean Morgan...kinda ... um.... tasty?

emily said...

Good points. I didn't watch the film with a particularly critical eye, I admit. I *loved* the opening montage both for the song and because it was like a trip down memory lane - seeing all of the characters that you know from the novel. I don't think I could ever evaluate it just as a film, because my experience was so tied into already knowing all of the connections. I wasn't really looking for the suspense that came from reading the novel, only because you can't ever beat that first time. I think maybe its biggest weakness will be too inaccessible to people not already invested in the story. It may not be able to stand on its own as a film.

T-Recs said...

I just want to thank you for creating the first blog post about Watchman I've seen that doesn't parody "Who Watches the Watchmen?"

coffee said...

I kept thinking that the guy who played the Comedian was Javier Bardem (I found out later that it's actually Jeffrey Dean Morgan), but the two actors definitely look alike