mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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I Watched the Watchmen.

I had sufficiently lowered my expectations to enjoy Watchmen. I'd been ratcheting them down since the rumors began to rise-- I mean, we've been hearing rumors for how long? In various forms of dudgeon, high & low. Jude Law will be Ozymandius! Robin Williams will play The Comedian, no wait-- Rorschach! So this whole thing came in at a low tremble-- the 300 guy is going to direct? They are changing the ending? Whatever, man. Eventually, partially sickened by the trailers, &, admittedly, partially excited by them, I decided I'd see the movie in theaters, but I wasn't going to fight for opening weekend or anything. I cultivated my attitude: like I did with The Golden Compass, I was going to think of the movie as a sort of "visual appendix" to the source text; the Watchmen comic still stands unsullied, but maybe there would be a good portrayal of some character or moment. I went to go see the film on Sunday with kromelizard & I feel like I got my money's worth. I had the right hat on to be able to enjoy it for what it was. I didn't expect that something that revolutionized one medium (comics) twenty years ago would somehow shake the pillars of cinema, you know?

Everyone is right about the opening sequence-- it really is the best, most brilliant part of the film, especially the moment where Silhoutte sweeps the girl up for the WWII kiss. Bravo right there. Actually, the momentum from that was ongoing; it lasted a long while-- The Comedian's death, Rorschach's investigation, all of it was working for me. I'll go here & say that the actors do themselves proud, with the noticeable exception of Ozymandius. I don't hate Ozymandius-- there has been a lot of vitriol poured on that casting-- I just thought they cast somebody who comes off like a smug villain more than the pinnacle of human potential. The Comedian hit the nihilistic notes he ought to, & looked like a brawny spook-- I bought him. Rorschach was a winner-- which is tough, since I was worried he'd come off "cool," but no, he came off like a dangerous psychopath who is fundamentally broken. Nite Owl was superb, actually; he nailed pathetic, he nailed brave-- he sold his relationship with Silk Spectre, & really? The Nite Owl / Rorschach buddy comedy moments are probably the parts of the film with the most actual pathos. Plus, his body was really pretty perfect for the role. Speaking of pathos, Doctor Manhattan is a mess-- listening to him talk all distractedly & distantly worked for me. Plus, blue penis. Lots of blue penis, which I demanded-- I would cry fowl on the whole thing if Doc M wore pants. As for Silk Spectre, she is fine, & has an interesting body-- but I really was struck by how she lacks agency. That isn't anything about the film, either; in the comic she's just someone who has things happen to her.

Apart from that, the look was good. The set design, colour saturation, all that. Unlike Simon, I wasn't bothered by the make-up; yeah, Nixon's nose was a caricature nose, what about it? Sure, they put old person make-up on, I think it looks fine. The model of Karnak? I had suspended my disbelief plenty by that point. There are a couple of special effects I didn't like. First is an over-riding critique of the movie entirely-- why are these guys wire fighting & punching through walls? This is a fundamental problem with the film. I'm willing to buy a little bit of this-- kung-fu, flying owlships, sure, no problem. The sense of scale is important. You need to see that Nite Owl & Silk Spectre are people, gadgets & karate aside. Just people. The Comedian is a person too, someone who just doesn't give a fuck. Rorschach is a person, but a dangerous sociopath. The only people who should be over the top are Ozymandius ("I can catch a bullet!" lacks any oomph if everyone acts like this is The Matrix) & Doctor Manhattan. Speaking of the good Doctor, I wish the effects were less over-the-top. I don't need him to explode-y teleport, or what have you; I think it would be creepier & more jarring if he just...stopped being there.

Now on to the real complaints! A major one is: stop telling me what I should feel! I don't need Nite Owl dropping to his knees & letting forth a howl when his buddy dies, & I certainly don't need the cathartic beating up of Ozymandius. Come on, leave the ambiguity, full on, without any of this macho crap. I don't need this melodrama to sell the drama; it undermines it, really. That was a steady current that jeopardized the whole thing-- the term Peter used was "clumsy" which is what it was. Besides that, changing the ending? The interview I read said that it would have taken 15 more minutes to explain the space squid, & the director just couldn't get anyone to sign off on making the film any longer. Me, I think the squid is necessary. First off-- audiences love to feel smart. It is kind of excepted wisdom that there will only be peace on Earth in the threat of alien invasion-- scooping that out & kludging in the "bad Doctor Manhattan" just made the peace at the end seem arbitrary & farcical.
Tags: movies, mspaint
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