Who Views the Viewmen?

March 24th, 2009

I finally found time to see Watchmen at a matinee this evening. That’s the major minus of having a normal work schedule: I can’t have my way around town while everyone is at work, ’cause I’m at work. Instead of going home for my sleep 1 (I’ll have to explain my weird yet consistent sleep schedule sometime), I saw the 4:30 showing. There were around five other people in the theater and we were all well-behaved. The sound did drop out during a scene but since I’ve read the book so many times, *shrug*.

In short, it’s a good movie. A lot of comic book-to-film adaptations strike an odd nerve in the details. Comics Batman wouldn’t have let Ras al Ghul die in a fiery train wreck. Lois Lane does not look or act like Kate Bosworth‘s portrayal. But, man does Watchmen hit all the right notes. Well, 99.9% of them. Sure there are changes in shot selection, dialog, and a few plot elements, but in the majority of cases they mesh well with the source material. The movie is covered in references to minutiae from the book. Characters in the secondary and tertiary roles in the book are liberally given cameos as reaction shots and scenery. Some characters like Silhouette are embellished with great effect. The movie, with it’s hindsight on the 80’s, also loads the sets with impersonators of real celebrities. Look for a David Bowie (no, not the actor who played Ozymandias, who could totally star in a Bowie biopic)!

The ending is not one of these changes I enjoyed. Like V for Vendetta, the ending seems shoehorned in to a faithful adaptation. I wonder what the reason for the change was: the sheer absurdity of the book ending in the face of the mostly “realistic” portrayal of a modern world with superheroes is what makes it so powerful so I hope it’s not because the book ending is so out-there. Maybe it’s because the book ending took time to set up that the movie could not spare. I will admit that the threads leading to the movie ending could be woven more seamlessly into the rest of the plot.

Still I am very glad a Watchmen movie got made and it doesn’t suck. Being a huge fan of the book, seeing some of the scenes play out in motion was really a great experience. The large tub of popcorn I consumed… not so much.


Final Note: Upon reflection on the movie I realized that references to smoking were missing. One bit in the book has Laurie looking for a cigarette lighter on the Owlship when she hits the flamethrower button by accident. In the movie, she just hits the button because it’s shiny or something. In a flashback, a boy is smoking a cigarette, also missing in the movie. Do the powers that be really think that erasing smoking from media is part of the solution? How does that mesh with alcohol use and movies centered around cocaine?


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