Saturday, March 21, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen?

I finally finished reading the WATCHMEN Graphic Novel. I guess my overall opinion is that I liked it. There were a few snags for me though that kept it from being truly awesome. While it was very intellectual, it was also very wordy. In some points I had to skim read through certain parts because it broke up the action too much. I haven't done that since a Ken Akamatsu manga. Wordy stuff. It was also emotionally dull. There were some moments that should be heart-wrenching, but the panel template that is used for most of the novel smothers the emotion. When the panels do open up or do anything dramatic, it is for scenes of action or panoramic visuals. Finally, the end seemed anti-climactic. It was a big band of a climax alright, but it too seemed stifled. The characters were excellent. I found myself liking Rorschach the most. The feeling of reunited characters and reestablished roles was very good. There was a lot of foreshadowing and analogy that was also well done. Extremely political and there is no question it does not support the idea of God. What the book did do, really well, was scare the crap out of me about war and humanity. I suppose that was the book's main purpose and it accomplished that.

Good read. Heavy on wordage and light on emotion conveyance. Forcefully sends message.

Now after seeing the movie, I must say there is a lot of slander being said about it that is exaggerated. Mainly people are saying it is a "soft-core porn" and not to go see it. First off, many may be put off by Dr. Manhattan's display of his genitals. I was interested to see how the filmmakers would edit it into the movie. Nudity in American films has been very skewed in a single direction. Woman have been appearing nude in films for years while men have been labeled as taboo when nude in films. This may be because of the intended audience being mostly males between 16-35 years old. Males don't want to see other males nude and Hollywood wants to get the most bucks back as possible so they stick to crowd pleasing. Not only was showing Dr M's genitalia staying in sync with the graphic novel, it was venturing away from deliberate covering, or trying to obviously not show his genitals. What was show is very tasteful and not offensive. The other end of the soft-core porn gossip is the sex scene between Silk Spectre and Night Owl. This may have been a bit of a "fan-service" moment and it did last a bit longer than I would have wanted, but it was the eventual hook up between two people who had obviously felt for each other long before that point in time. Not only did they just give in to their desires to become masked adventurers, but they were giving into their passions and finally letting go of everything that was holding them back. It is quite a pivotal moment and I can understand why the director chose to highlight the scene.
The other thing being said about the movie is that it is excessively violent. What I have to say to that is, well so was the graphic novel. It had a point to say about the inner workings of human nature. We are violent. Not to show this violence in the movie would make it awkward and obvious that it was trying not to offend people.

Some of the problems in the book were still apparent in the movie. It was emotionally stifling. I have now come to the conclusion that it was not the panel layout of the book or the fault of bad timing, but a consequence of a grand story. Watchmen has a huge point to make on a world wide scale. The problems of these few are shrunken by the scope of the story, making the heart-wrenching moments less emotional and more frivolous. I wanted to be more shocked by Laurie's discovery of her true father, or when a favored character is killed when he is in the right. But these moments are less impacting since the entire world is experiencing trauma and death. The story makes humankind look like a parasite or virus.

Overall I enjoyed the movie. It was surprisingly exact to the book at times. It was also interesting to see how certain things were understandably omitted and stitched back together to make everything fit. Go see it in the theater. ALWAYS see a movie like this at the theater. Even a 52" plasma with a great surround sound system will not emulate the classic movie theater experience.

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