Yesterday I saw WATCHMEN in IMAX. I’m going to attempt to systematically lay out this “review” so that you can read the things you want and NOT read the things you DON’T want. At the very bottom, there will be a list of items that were in the comic but not in the movie…this will inevitably include **SPOILERS**, so if you don’t want to see that stuff, don’t read the section labeled **SPOILERS**. K? Got it? Good. Let’s proceed.
WATCHMEN: The Story
If you don’t already know, you’re stupid. But I’ll go through it anyway just so there’s no putzing around when it comes to the actual review and run-down.
Based on the critically acclaimed Graphic Novel of the same name, Watchmen is a “Super Hero” Sci-Fi drama that takes place in a fictional 1985 where Richard Nixon is serving his third term as President, America has won in Vietnam, and…well, there are Super Heroes and magical powers.
In the 1940s there was a group of Super Heroes called “The Minutemen.” But when these individuals were too old to continue their work, another group of brave souls took their jobs over. The only one to remain with the gang was the bloodthirsty American Patriot: The Comedian.
The story begins with the assassination of The Comedian and the new team of Super Heroes dubbed The Watchmen (now disbanded due to a law against vigilantism) must come together to find the killer before they are all systematically picked off one-by-one.
Oh, and America is on the brink of total Nuclear War, so that might happen as well…that’s no good.
WHO ARE THOSE CHARACTERS I SEE IN THE TRAILER?
Shut up. Next question.
WATCHMEN: The Review
Watchmen was “nerd porn.” Plain and simple. At least, it would have been, had so many comic book geeks taken their dicks out of their mouths and appreciated it for what it was: A Cinematic Re-Creation of the Graphic Novel. Yes, things were different, yes some characters fit “your imagination” better than others, but it was a movie.
How often do the movies that come from novels sync up exactly to their source material? There are always going to be differences, but for the most part, Watchmen was dead-on.
Now, petty things aside, let’s get to the technical side.
The movie was beautiful. The imagery, the colors, the effects, everything popped. I would recommend seeing it in IMAX if you haven’t already. The visuals take over the theater and the sound shakes the entire room. IMAX isn’t an experience that is always entirely necessary, but if you’re a film nut and you enjoy the experience of going to the movies versus sitting at home watching a DVD/BluRay, then IMAX is perfect.
The actors all did a phenomenal job, no matter if you thought they were “right for the part” or not. The difference between reading a novel and reading a Graphic Novel is that you don’t have to picture what you think the characters look like. The artist has done a pretty decent job of showing you exactly how these people appear. Therefore, when being represented on the Big Screen, you have certain expectations, I get that. Certain characters didn’t look exactly like they appeared in the comic (Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias) but that didn’t really matter or take anything away from the experience for me.
The story was amazing and the film didn’t really feel like it was sucking almost 3 Hours out of your day. Some moments dragged on too long and some scenes and song choices made for tedious and uncomfortable moments, but sometimes that’s what cinema is about. If you’re not stirred up in some way, you’re not really experiencing the movie. Now, if you think the movie sucks and you walk out halfway through, that’s a different story, but I think this movie should leave you wanting more.
The god-like Dr. Manhattan lit up the screen every moment he appeared (and not just because of his big swinging cock, either). The effort and detail that went in to creating a lifelike and impressive Dr. Manhattan left me almost in awe. Billy Crudup also portrayed the character with such emotion and inner sadness to suggest: if there is a god, he’s miserable and disconnected from humanity.
Jackie Earle “Kelly Leak” Haley created the best Rorschach I could have hoped for. As an actor, he seems to be following the same path as Mickey Rourke. No one really hears from him in awhile, plays small roles in some small movies, and the smashes back into a lead role and everyone sits back and says: “Who the fuck is this guy, and where has he been all of my life?” I hope this break-through role puts Jackie Earle Haley back on the Bad News Bears (by which I mean “The A-List”).
To close out this review, I have to say that this movie isn’t for everyone. The only thing that I can compare it to (IMO) is The Dark Knight. I know this criticism is going to get my drawn, quartered, tarred, and feathered by the Nerd Elite, but fuck you. I loved The Dark Knight. Really! Loved it! I would also have to say that, for me, Watchmen rivaled it…or surpassed it. (Waits patiently for faggy hate-mail)
Look, everybody likes Batman. If you don’t like Batman, you’re a social outcast (moreso than most comic nerds) and nobody likes you either. Everybody’s heard of Batman, and everyone who’s even heard of Batman should enjoy Batman Begins and especially The Dark Knight for its acting, for its story, and for its modern bow to film noir.
That being said, not everyone knows Watchmen. It was never a Saturday Morning Cartoon. It was never a prize in your cereal box. It was a book (with pictures) for Adults Only. The balls it takes to push out this film (despite a long period of legal “fiddle-faddle”) are extraordinary. People who saw Sin City left the theater either saying “That was Awesome” or “That Sucked!” Not everyone is going to like what you do. Not everyone is going to appreciate a Masterpiece when they see it.
“Great job on that Sistine Chapel ceiling, Mike…but…I would’ve added more cloud.”
I’m not particularly saying that Watchmen was a film masterpiece, but I thought it was stunning, passionate, and almost perfect. It had everything a Super Hero movie should have (awesome fights and saving the day) along with some things that Super Hero movies never have…but you’ll have to see it for yourself.
WATCHMEN: The Criticisms and Differences **SPOILERS** (this means, if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know what happens, go somewhere else NOW…but thanks for stopping by!! )
As with certain other Graphic Novel adaptations to the screen, a lot of things are lost in translation, or lost for better flow to the story. Also, as with other Graphic Novel films, the name of the CREATOR of the original work is suspiciously absent from the credits. I would imagine this is due to the fact that if you spend 15 years of your life working on a masterpiece just for Hollywood to come along and say “we think we can do this better,” you would probably be frustrated as hell and not want your name anywhere near it.
That being said, I believe that Alan Moore should be proud of this interpretation. It may not have been his monster-ridden, dead-body raft, epically bizarre sexual fantasy come to life, but it was an incredible endeavor.
I searched for some message boards where criticisms were being flung around like diarrhea of the typewriter (because when nerds fight online, they don’t have to look you in the eye). Here’s a few:
“It was too long.”–That’s what your mother said last night. I bet you’re also the little bitch that gets antsy during car rides to the mall. Shut the fuck up. There was so much going on. It didn’t feel like almost 3 hours at all.
“Too Many Unnecessary scenes.”–That depends on your definition of unnecessary. Some scenes were drawn out a bit too long, but if you’re an adult you can appreciate the art of it. And if you’re a kid, you don’t really notice these things.
“Too much blue penis.” –No matter where you see this movie, you will have people either giggle or go aww! every single cock-dangling second that Dr. Manhattan is on screen…it’s extremely annoying. We get it, you’re not gay and the sight of any kind of male nudity offends your eyes. Next time, you should all wear a neon sign that says “I’M HETEROSEXUAL” so all the other faggots trying to actually enjoy the fucking movie don’t have to hear you whinge…we’ll just know.
“The sex scene was long and excrutiating.” –The sex scene was vital and part of the story. Everything in the movie was vital. I think they could have chosen a better song to pair in with the sex scene…or at least a different version of “Hallelujah.”
“The ending was different.” –Are you telling me that if the ending had been kept the same, you wouldn’t have half the audience going “What the fuck?” The ending to the original graphic novel fit the story of the graphic novel. This film was a re-imagining of that novel with most of the same scenes kept in tact. Deal with it. This ending was perfect for the story being told. My only criticism was that Laurie Jupiter and Dan Dreiberg decided to go back to vigilantism after the devestation. But, that’s not a big deal…and if I go into why I didn’t like that, I become no better than those I am attempting to dismiss. (Because that’s not what was supposed to happen)
So, what was Different??
Here we go…the list:
Issue #1: Virtually NO changes whatsoever, except that there is no deeper examination of Hollis Mason (Night Owl 1). The Graphic Novel gives us a deeper insight into the characters, just like any novel would, and this is not exactly transferred to the big screen.
Issue #2: Some of the costumes are different (if you haven’t already noticed). Laurie is a smoker and a drug user. She reverts to this in times of anger or mental anguish. The film makers entirely took out Laurie’s addiction. Her character didn’t suffer for it, but it would’ve been an engaging character element.
This is the issue where The Comedian comes to Moloch in tears. He tells his former rival that he knows all about the plan to destroy the city…and that it involves an island. This is exchange (but not the whole scene) is taken out of the movie because, well…the ending is different.
The comic ends with more from Hollis Mason’s autobiography: Under the Hood in which he talks about his past, and the villians in depth. Impossible to include in the movie, but still very interesting. Let me add now that the comic is a great buy and worth getting…or downloading.
Issue #3: Tales of the Black Freighter…this is a side-story…comic-within-a-comic that couldn’t be included in the movie. It is being released as an animated DVD. There are many criticisms that this wasn’t included because of the deep and intriguing way it parallels the main plot…but I can see how it would be tricky to keep. There are side characters as well, such as the two fellas at the News Stand…they appear in the film, but only in passing…
This issue goes into Jon’s (Dr. Manhattan) past and includes public interviews with his Ex-Girlfriend/Wife (Janey) who only appears in the film briefly.
(I’ll add that the Dr. Manhattan Interview/Back Alley Brawl scene was perfection)
In the interest of time, a lot was cut out from this issue…I’ve mentioned the exchanges between the two at the News Stand. All of the occurrences and investigation on Earth when Dr. Manhattan goes to Mars is absent from the film.
Issue #4: Dr. Manhattan’s origin story is cut drastically short in the film, with only several key parts being shown. Perhaps there will be an extended DVD where all of this will be included…but I doubt it.
This is also the first time we see Ozymandias’s pet…thing…which is only shown at the end of the movie (out of nowhere). We learn that Bubastis is a genetically altered Lynx. In the movie, it just…is.
Issue #5: We get a lot more in depth with Rorschach’s character and learn things about him that we don’t get from the film. Also, Rorschach’s multiple encounters with Moloch are melted into 2 in the film. The first, after the funeral, and then finding him dead.
Also, this issue gets more involved with the detectives who are hunting Rorschach, who we only see…twice(?) in the film.
Issue #6: Rorschach puts a cigarette out in someone’s eye…I wish that were in the movie.
This issue chronicle’s Rorschach’s sessions with the therapist and the therapist’s life at home because of his involvement in the case. The therapist’s personal life is stricken from the film and there is really only one therapy session that only chronicles one significant event in Rorschach’s life: the missing girl.
In the comic, Rorschach lets the killer burn. In the film he take a meat cleaver to the killer’s skull…over…and over.
The time spent on the therapist’s life in the comic is extremely well-told. The therapist becomes obsessed with Rorschach even though his own life is being torn apart. We learn a lot more about Rorschach in the comic, but that’s to be expected.
Also, Rorschach doesn’t have his signature sugar-cubes (or whatever the fuck they are) in the movie…but, that’s minor.
Issue #7: Let me start off by clarifying that unless you have the comic with you, or have just read it, you won’t notice many of the subtle changes that the film offers. The ending is a big one, but other than that…the only things you’ll notice are the larger differences.
Again, some of Night Owl’s costumes don’t appear in the movie…but his costume is very different than it is in the comic, so…deal with it.
So, the story that leads up to the smash ending comes back into play more here. Artists and brilliant minds are being kidnapped and no one knows why. This doesn’t happen at all in the film and you know that by now.
The comic is much more insightful, but if you’ve ever read a book, and then seen the movie, you know that both can be great in their own ways…even if they aren’t the same ways.
Issue #8: The key points in this issue are about the same (i.e. the prison break). More points I’ve mentioned before about detectives and investigations continue here, and you can take or leave the extra “cop-story” from the movie.
There are two scenes in this issue that are missing from the film that seem important, however.
Night Owl is visited by a detective and this increases his paranoia. He knows he is being watched and he decides to take his life back anyway. It is a strong character point for Dan Drieberg that we don’t see in the film.
Second is the death of Hollis Mason. The issue ends with the murder of the original Night Owl. This is an important step in illustrating the death of the old crew as well as the rebirth of the new Night Owl. I would have liked to see this in the film; however, in the film, Hollis Mason is not a very key character and is only shown in one scene.
Issue #9: This entire issue serves to illustrate the backstory of Laurie Jupiter. It takes place on Mars with Dr. Manhattan (it makes sense, trust me) and it is about 30 minutes of conversation and origin-story.
The film wraps this up in about 10 minutes. A lot of beauty is shown in the film…the landscape of Mars, Dr. Manhattan’s philosophies, and the uncovering of the knowledge that the Comedian was Laurie’s father.
There is so much more to this scene in the comic, but the film picks and chooses what the audience needs to see and hear, and that’s fine.
I’ll also reiterate that Laurie Jupiter does not smoke in the film: cigarettes or her cool drug pipe thing.
Issue #10: As the story comes to a close, a lot of military action and information about Ozymandias comes to light. Night Owl and Rorschach realize that Adrian is behind the murder of the Comedian and they journey to his frozen palace. Most of this is the same, except for the HUGE DEAL that the end is completely different. The story is still there, though…and this may all make more sense if you knew what the fuck I was talking about.
Oh…Night Owl’s winter suit is different and he’s got a cool hover-scooter in the comic that he doesn’t have in the film.
Issue #11: This is where Ozymandias’s plan comes to light. He has kidnapped great minds, put them in a Bio Dome while they genetically constuct a giant creature. Adrian (Ozymandias) wants to “take over the world” by creating the hoax of an Alien Invasion. A bomb would go off, and in its place, there would be a giant one-eyed octopus thing with a vagina mouth.
In the film, he uses Dr. Manhattan to help him with a project that mimics the circumstances of his creation. This atomic structure would then be used (unbeknownst to Dr. Manhattan, but knownst to Ozymandias) to destroy the city and bring the world together, under the watchful eye of Ozymandias.
Different endings, but essentially the same result.
Issue #12: The destruction happens, millions die. Ozymandias was successful, and Jon comes back to Earth.
As I explained: substitute BOMB for BOMB AND ALIEN and you’ll essentially show the differences between the movie and the comic.
Everything else happens. Ozymandias gets away with it and Jon goes along with his scheme only to ensure that the world peace continues.
That’s basically it…except…
…Dan and Laurie adopt new identities and go into hiding in the comic. I feel this is fitting…but doesn’t happen in the film. The ending is still similar though. They go to visit Laurie’s mother, Miss Jupiter…the end.
I hate to ask, but: What did YOU think of the movie?
I agree with your synopsis. Also, they left out the whole “jupiter vs. juspeczyk” issue. However, it wasn’t really needed in the film, it was just one of the small details that made the comic that much better.
Also, if they would have ended the film the same as the comic they would have lost everyone in the audience that didn’t read the comic. The ending fit the comic well, but the film would have been hurt by it.
I enjoyed both the comic and the movie.
Also, the preview for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was awesome and I look forward to it coming out.