RB2's Journal, 6 Mar 09. Watched Watchmen, movie about watching superheroes. Internal Irony- there wasn't a super hero among them. There were heroes, but they weren't super. The only super wasn't really a hero.
Hmrh. Another mystery, in a flick about mystery men.
You either already know the story, or you don't. You've either read the 'Graphic Novel', or you haven't. If you are in the know, go see it. You know you're going to anyway; it's human nature. If you don't know the story, I'm not going to spoil it for you.... this review is more about my impressions than it is about story.
The story, by Alan Moore (I'm sorry, I don't care what kind of crazed British loon you are. This is your story, take responsibility for it, ya hairy slob!) has been analyzed up the wazoo. For those of you who don't know, Moore took some obscure characters, made even more obscure analogs of them and threw them against the wall, like spaghetti-- but with extra marinara. Everybody called it "deconstruction"; I called it 'Baby (Boomer) throwing a temper tantrum'.
So he tried to examine what makes superheroes tick . This is akin to throwing a hand grenade into a shoebox with a half dozen watches and determining how a clock works by looking at the fragments.
This is akin to putting a person in a particle accelerator and trying to figure out where life begins.
So, Zack Snyder steps in where dozens have failed before him and adapted this monster to the screen....
and he succeeds, mostly.
This is a very good, but flawed film- one that is brilliant in places, and in others you're left with a Whadaheckwashethinking??? moment.
The attention to detail is nothing short of stunning. All the iconic bits (with one exception)from the 'Graphic Novel' are there (or will be there on some Director's Cut DVD). The acting is mostly very good. The direction and editing are well done.
The main issue I have with it- is when it's brilliant, I don't know who to give credit to- for the flaws: likewise, the blame.
Snyder is to be commended by finding a narrative through line that works. He takes the murder mystery and runs it like a Noir classic. We have despicable victim, check. Flawed detective with a constantly running inner monologue? Check. Conspiracies that point to a bigger plot? Check. Dark and shocking secrets? Check. Floating blue man with exposed genetalia. and godlike powers? Uh.....
This may be the first mainstream Super Hero noir. Or it would be, if there wasn't so much symbolism and metaphor and meaning packed into it. The problem is that in some ways Snyder was TOO slavishly devoted to the source material, and the OMG! Nukes! (see RB3's essay on Nukes earlier this week) subplot may have resonated like a struck gong in the mid eighties when this was written (and set), but today.... not so much. There was a time when the hippy-dippy Doomsday Clock meant something, now it's a nearly forgotten relic. Now it resonates like a wet dishtowel.
And the music! What the fraggin' @#$@!!! was Snyder thinking? There were some good eighties tunes in there- the muzak version of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" playing in Ozymandias' lobby was a scream, and 99 Luftabalons worked in context---- but for pete's sake! 'Sounds of Silence' at the funeral? I mean, if you HAD to have Simon and Garfunkel, you could've used "The Boxer" when Rorshach got the 'come on from the whores on seventh avenue'. I know he tried to use music to indicate period-- that makes sense, I could even appreciate that. But when the music choice gives you "What was he meaning to say here?" moments that take you out of the movie? Bad choice.
Most of Moore's themes survived-which in some ways is good, in others, not so much. I always thought that the irony of Ozymandias believing that a small band of heroes couldn't make a difference, but somehow he, a subset of that band of heroes, COULD make the ultimate difference was the kind of logic loop that would've tied 'The World's Smartest Man' up in knots. And silly, to boot.
I did really enjoy the interplay between order and chaos and putting a smiley face on it all, which is what the Watchmen are really all about. Like watchmakers making something beautiful and functional out of odd and disparate parts, only to realize that human beings break things. And then the watchmakers go back and repair their timepieces. (And before you accuse me of belaboring that metaphor- go see the movie. Alan Moore pounds it into the ground and Snyder takes a sledgehammer to it)
Bottom line- did I like it? Yes, though the sentiments are dated and worn around the edges, the story is a good one... and Rorshach is a great Philip Marlowe. The FX are great.... in spite of glowing blue wangs. ( I heard that a big deal was made of the size. Ehh.) Do NOT take anyone younger than say, 22, There's gore, violence, more gore, glowing blue things, male butt, female butt (and more bits, though they don't get Manhattan's Manhood's screen time), and Lee Ioccoca gets it right between the eyes. A bullet that is. Not anything glowing or blue.
That's pretty much my thoughts for now. I'll probably revisit this again, though, once I've slept on it a bit.