Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Watchmen Review



I had to let that little over-excitement out on the first sentence, because otherwise I fear this review will get riddled with immature internet slang.
As you can probably guess, I've seen Watchmen. I pondered a long time on wether I should review it or not, because it's already been reviewed like a gazillion times, but when I realized I spent the whole weekend talking about it with my boyfriend Cosmic, emphasizing the little tidbits we liked the most, and what could have been better, I decided that I still need to talk about the movie a little more. So here we go.

Should I even say what the story is? Doesn't everybody know already? No? Oh well, okay. Watchmen” is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the “Doomsday Clock” - which charts the USA’s tension with the Soviet Union - is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion - a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers - Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity… but who is watching the Watchmen?”

First off, I need to say this... I loved the movie. I liked it a lot when I saw it, but as the hours and days passed, it grew even more on me.

Having read the book a while ago, some of the stories details were a little blurred in my head, but even so the fidelity of the adaptation was so clear in every shot that it amazed me. First thing me and Cosmic did when we got home was pick up Watchmen and we just marveled at how so much of the comics detail was put into the film. Even little things that could easily go unnoticed, like the poster outside Hollis Mason's house, or the graffiti on the wall, it's exactly like in the comic.
Sure, a few things needed to be changed - the end immediately comes to mind. In theory, the ending in both the movie and the comic is the same. But the way they get to that ending is a little different. I don't want to spoil anything, but I have to say that I agree with what they did, the comic ending would probably be a little too far-fetched for film... maybe people who didn't read the comic would just think it was ridiculous and would feel alienated by it. I don't know. But in my opinion, the events they chose to lead to that ending were a little more plausible in the movie and it worked pretty well. I think the ending dialogues worked better in the book (I preferred the Ozymandias/Dr. Manhattan conversation, than the Dr. Manhattan/Silk Specter II we got in the movie) but it was impossible to keep it between those same characters, since the events were different and just wouldn't make much sense. Also, I feel like the ending needed a little more impact, because in the comic it was very intense. I don't want to bastardize things saying it needed "more gore", but in the comics the events end pretty graphically, and the movie ending is very toned down, especially since the movie didn't shy away from gore and violence before. There should have been a bigger sense of horror, I feel. But even so, it had nice touched. I loved the shot of the newspaper guy and the comic-reading kid (the two Bernards) hugging, just like there is in the comic. One more example of Zach's faithful adaptation. So, all in all, the ending was, let's say, tweaked, in a graceful and effective manner. I liked it.

I've seen people mention they would have liked to see some subplots, like the prison psychiatrist's family troubles, and the two Bernards, but that would have made the movie too loaded with things and it wouldn't work, it would just deviate from the main plot and slow the pace down too much. Maybe those will be on the director's cut (I don't know if there'll be something about the two Bernards on the Tales of the Black Freighter DVD).

Just like the comic, the movie didn't have much action, since that's not the core of the story. But let me tell you, the action it DID have, was awesome. It was violent, well choreographed, gory and in your face. I loved watching Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II break arms and legs, not to mention Rorschach's antics. And when Dr. Manhattan made people go "pop!"... well, it was damn cool. Some will say the comic was not this violent... but I feel like it worked very well on the big screen. The action scenes were very well balanced with the rest of the film, so you didn't have a lot of fighting, but you knew that when you had, it was going to punch you in the gut and really have an impact, without making the movie look like a cheap action movie.

The acting... there was some great embodiement of characters. The one most people will talk about is Rorschach, and rightfully so. He was my favorite from the comic - so driven and dangerous, with loosely grounded sanity, black and white views of the world and a maniac will to punish evil, he was one of the most complex and fascinating characters. From the second he showed up on screen and we heard his narration, I felt like he had just jumped out of the comic. I had already heard his voice on the trailer, but it surprised me again, it was exactly like I imagined. Plus, his dialogues and sentence structure were straight out of the comic, which was awesome. I mean, almost all dialogues were straight out of the comic, but Rorschach has a very particular way of expressing himself and it was a joy to hear. Total nerdgasm.
Next, I have to emphasize The Comedian. Once again, great casting and acting job. He looked and acted like The Comedian, it was fab.
Dr. Manhattan surprised me for once again being exactly like I imagined him - eerily calm, slowly dettaching himself more and more from mankind and his own humanity. His backstory was probably my favorite in the movie. I think it was pretty well-handled and even a little heartbreaking.
Dan Dreiberg was also great - nerdy, awkward and sort of boy-scout-ish, I liked him better than I liked the character in the book. I didn't like him that much in the book - it's always easier for the darker characters to be more interesting - but he really grew on me in the movie.
Ozymandias and Silk Specter II were the more so-so characters for me, in the movie, but they were decent I guess. I feel Silk Specter II was there more for eye candy than anything else, but it didn't detract that much for the movie and all in all she was okay.

Next, to mention the soundtrack. I enjoyed it a whole lot. I've seen people mentioning how the song placement was weird and it "ruined" the mood, but I disagree. From the moment "Unforgettable" started playing in that particular bit at the beginning, I knew we'd see some great moments for songs. Speaking of which, I MUST mention the credits. Without exagerating, these were probably my favorite credits ever in a movie. It condensated a lot of history in there and suceeded in showing the temporal progression. Little details like the recreation of the famous Alfred Eisenstaedt photo, the Last Supper and cameos by David Bowie and Andy Warhol's look-alikes were a joy to see. It was beautifully done and the music couldn't be better. I'm not ashamed to say I had a little tear in my eye. Another bit I particularly liked was the inclusion of the song Hallellujah when Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II had sex on Archie (the owl ship). To me, that scene could have been a little soft-coreish but the inclusion of the song just made it a little lighter and added something to it. I know a lot of people hated it - but I liked it.

In a movie with such outstanding special effects and all, I did find it weird how bad Nixon's makeup was. That me cringe a little whenever he showed up. I don't know, they could have made him appear mostly with his back-turned (like it happened on the comic, where we mostly saw his silhouetter) and only showing his face on the posters and such, because I really didn't like his face at all. Other thing I want to mention, Bubastis kind of shows up out of the blue. On the comic, she appears a lot sooner, so I don't know if this was weird at all to someone who didn't read the comic. I wasn't expecting her to appear at all, but then all of a sudden there's Bubastis! They'll probably introduce her earlier on the Director's cut. We'll see.

All in all... yeah. Loved it. Just like the book, it managed to introduce us to a world where masked heroes are as double-sided and troubled as the rest of us and raises a lot of moral questions about justice, about means justifying ends, and about humanity in itself. It was an exciting movie, and a brilliant adaptation, dark, violent, and rich, completed with compelling characters and beautiful shots. I will be seeing it again very soon, and I already can't wait to get my hands on the DVD. 9 masked vigilantes out of 10.

I'll leave you with the brilliant initial credits and, if you didn't see the movie yet, go as soon as you can.


Anonymous said...

Punkbox here- you really got a hold of this blogging thing way to go :) *hey look what the heck is that blue thing.........lol very good review cool's

Ska said...

Adrian fscking rocks! He the man!

Por acaso achei piada ao senhor que eles escalaram para fazer de ozymandias, deu me exactamente a mesma vontade de lhe arrancar aquele sorrisinho presunçoso do rosto à biqueirada, mas mesmo assim identifico-me com ele (principalmente na parte de ser o "smartest man on the world, so they say") :P

Mas detestei solenemente a Laurie! Acho que é uma actriz abaixo de medíocre e que nem para eye candy cumpre as medidas. Foi a única coisa que não gostei no filme.

O tio Rochas e o Cómico estão pura e simplesmente soberbos!

the-kool-aid-fiend said...

the-kool-aid-fiend from deviantart:
Awesome film review man! I love how much detail you went into and that you didn't compare the awesomeness of this film to the Dark Knight, which seems all anyone who has seen it wants to do. I loved the film too! I really enjoyed it and since I hadn't read the novel in about a year, it was easy for me to forget some of the nitpicky stuff. I would have liked to see Hollis Mason's murder in the film. I know that might sound sadistic, but it was one of the most memorable and sentimental scenes to me. I remeber reading the novel and actually crying. So it was sad to not see the bond between the Nite Owls develope. And you are totally right on, Rorschach was freaking rad and cast perfectly. I really liked the casting for Nite Owl II as well, since he was my favorite from the book I was impressed on the actor. Just wanted to share my thoughts, I really enjoy discussing films and unfortunately no one around me does.

ForgetfulRainn said...

Great review!

I honestly don't even remember who Bubastis was... But I won't discuss things in detail here for the sake of other people who haven't seen the movie. Prepare for discussions!

Ska said...

off topic~: loved your omni-shirt ;) U da girl!