Friday, March 13, 2009
WATCHMEN - REVIEW
It was great.
It is a very faithful remake. Almost all the scenes & even dialogue are word perfect though the order, particularly of flashbacks has been changed. Also quite a lot of sub-plots have been removed This is perfectly sensible since a film, even a 2 1/2 hour film, is less complicated than a book.
Rorschach's role is slightly toned down, particularly the sub-plot with the psychiatrist is much shortened which is one of my favourite parts, though a few seconds is added to try & make up for it. As I say some simplification is needed.
The fighting is pretty vicious which is pretty much as it should be - the Watchmen convincingly look like SAS in hand to hand combat mode, which they should be to be respected as much as they are & which is actually slightly less impressive in the book. The fighting does involve an inordinate amount of improbable damage to walls, furniture etc though the single most improbable feat is actually made more credible by Ozymandias wearing gloves.
The use of 1970s & 80s songs in couple of scenes is masterly.
For the first time I realised the nature of Dr Manhattan's Martian citadel & how it is an expression of his boyhood ambition.
The only thing that really jarred is that in the rape scene the Comedian is shown as fully adult when in the book he is about 17 (the film also changes his official age to make it fit). The fact that he tries rape & that it is forgiveable is precisely because he is a confused teen. A few years later he would be able to talk himself into her bed & indeed does. They should have used a different actor to portray the young Comedian.
The thing that has annoyed some fans is that the deux ex machina at the end is changed. Good. This is definitely the greatest weakness in the book which I have been convinced over a beer or 2 would simply fall apart under forensic examination. The film's wouldn't. It also elevates Dr Manhattan to a more tragic figure.
Just as the Watchman graphic novel (well ok then comic book) elevated superheroes we have the first truly intelligent superhero film. I love the first 2 Batman films, much of Dark Knight, the first Spider-Man movie & the 2nd X-Men but this really is quality. It has been fully faithful to the source material & in some ways improved on it which is not something easily done of Mr Moore's creations.
UPDATE I later figured out the weak point of Rorschach's treatement. When he kills the child killer in the movie it is certainly violent but it is quick. In the book it is done more slowly & the audience is given time to appreciate both how horrible it is & how it is the only sane answer - if he was brought to trial he would walk because there is no evidence. This is central to inderstanding the character & while I understand backing off from such violence I think it was, artisticaly, a mistake.