Since my original post on the Watchmen movie, I’ve seen it three more times. Twice on a regular screen and once on an eye-popping IMAX. I haven’t re-watched a movie this much since Memento. I’m putting the bulk of this post below the fold since I know interest is waning.

One of the things that I wasn’t sure about when I first saw the movie was the CG for Dr. Manhattan. There seemed to be a layer of “fake” around it. With a few more viewings, though, I have actually come around on that. Whether it is intentional or not, the sort of uncomfortable gestures and mannerisms of Jon are in-keeping with his character.

They never mention Janey Slater’s job in the comic (as far as I am aware). In the movie they state that she is a physicist. Being that this takes place in 1960, that’s a bit unlikely. Isn’t it?

The music from the Mars scene is awesome.

One thing that I had wish the movie had captured was the past-tense progression of some of the characters. In the comic book, Dr. Manhattan goes from a full body-suit to the briefs to nothing at all over time. It’s a good representation of his departure from conventional humanity. In the movie he just wears the wrestling digs or briefs. Likewise for Rorschach, the comic book implies that his creepy voice came only after the kidnapping incident. Prior to that, when he was still Kovacs wearing the costume, he spoke in complete sentences and presumably in a more normal voice. The movie does not attempt to differentiate. Our loss.

Scenes I wish they had been able to fit in the movie: Rorschach’s recovery of the costume and his confrontation with the landlady, the explanation behind Rorschach’s mask, Adrian Veidt yelling “I did it!” in his moment of triumph. It’s too bad some of the peripheral characters were unexplored, like the Bernards, but that I knew that all had to go.

There is also a comment that Dr Manhattan makes when blowing up his adversaries about how the morality of his adventures escapes him. They didn’t put it in the movie even though they had the perfect opportunity to. They just left it silent. I wonder why.

The producers apparently wanted to cut the Mars scenes and Rorschach’s story with the kidnappers. It really might have been a more enjoyable movie for the uninitiated had they done so. It seems that outside the context, it comes across as superfluous. Man, though, am I glad they left that in there.

One complaint I’ve heard even from people that liked the movie is that Sally Jupiter comes across as overly dramatic. I agree that she does at points, but I don’t see this as being out-of-character. For me, it’s how the obnoxiousness of her character carries over from the comic to the screen. The only huge complaint I have is that I thought the deliver for the “Things are tough all over, Cupcake” line was all wrong.

When I watched the movie at the IMAX, there was a woman sitting to one side of me and a guy to the next. I was reminded how bloody this movie is because the woman (who’d obviously seen the movie before) flinched pretty noticeably whenever a bloody scene was coming. The guy on the other side of me, on the other hand, flinched whenever they were about to show The Big Blue Wonder.

It probably says more of my inner-geekitude than it does the cinematography, but I’ll be darned if I don’t think that the Dan/Laurie love scene isn’t one of the best ever in a movie. I’m not big on love scenes, generally, but maybe like Dan in real life I need masks on the screen for it to be worthwhile.

The movie did a good job, in my view, of adding clarity to the two main romantic subplots, Eddie/Sally and Dan/Laurie. For Eddie and Sally it reinforced Eddie’s fixation with Sally with the pictures all around the apartment and a sweet clip-out of his daughter on his nightstand. The notion of the family that he never had was made more poignant in the movie than in the comic book. For Dan and Laurie, seeing humans playing the characters added a level of humanity that’s hard to put on a comic book page. The actress for Laurie is gorgeous, of course, but she also added certain mannerisms that made her a much more-dimensioned character. Given her flatness in the comic, I guess that’s not hard. Dan also came across as a bit charming and a little less hapless. I consider it a significant point in the comic that the two are not particularly desirable people but one another is all that each of them have. The movie made it a little more than that. Maybe the comic was the right way to go, but it was a little refreshing.

I’m curious as to why they changed Rorschach’s age. He was 35 when apprehended in the movie and 45 in the comic. I thought that actor could just as easily have been 45 as 35. Both the movie and comic versions had a forever-youngness in their appearance. The main effect of the age-change is that Rorschach is only 16 or so in the comic during the (Crimebusters)/Watchmen meeting.

They also changed Comedian’s age, making him a very unlikely 67 in the movie. The comic book having him 61 was pushing it. I guess the reason that they did this is that Comedian was 16 or so when he tried to rape Sally in the comic book. In the movie he would have been 22. I’m not sure why they felt the need to make him older. I thought that it was maybe because they couldn’t get the mustache off of him on the day that they needed to film that, but they actually had a scene with him without a mustache in the opening montage. Sure, even that Jeffry Dean Morgan doesn’t look 16, but that was less of a stretch than the Comedian fighting the intruder being 67.

In the IMAX screen, you can notice little things that are harder to notice on a regular screen. The actor for Dan Drieberg has a noticeably pierced ear. No earring, of course, but still that totally doesn’t work for me.

I wonder what the dots on the (Crimebusters/)Watchmen map are supposed to represent?

I always wondered where they put the 51st star on the US flag. In the movie, they apparently put the star on the corner of the blue rectangle, spilling out over the stripes. It’s an interesting departure. Not a fan of it, but there will be no easy configuration for our 51st state, if we ever get one.

I watched the Under the Hood DVD feature. It am too lazy to look it up, but I think it had a different writer. The tone and charactering and all that are a little bit off. It makes it seem like it’s going to be slightly more of a typical superhero movie. It was good to see more of Wally Weaver. He is one of the few characters to get a bigger part in the movie than in the comic book because they combined a couple of characters.

The Under the Hood DVD added romantic subtext between Hollis Mason and Sally Jupiter. I wonder if that’s going to be in the extended feature of the movie. Hollis’s picture is conspicuously present on Sally’s wall. I can’t say that I like the idea, but I can’t give a good reason other than that it’s not in the source material.

I still haven’t watched the Black Freighter feature. I am working my way through the comic again and want to make it to the end before I do that.

The opening montage is one of those things that really divides the comic lovers from the others. Evangeline’s husband posted on his blog that it was that scene when he and Eva knew that it was going to be a good movie. Otherwise, I’ve seen it get a lot of complaints. If you know the backstory of Dollar Bill’s death and whatnot, it really is priceless. But I can see why it wouldn’t be if you don’t. Interestingly, Clancy’s caught me watching a bootlegged copy of it at home on a pretty regular basis and she sort of likes it. That has as much to do with the music as anything and of course she doesn’t know what any of it represents, but I thought it was craftily done if a bit confusing for the uninitiated.

Lest anyone go ballistic at my having downloaded a copy of that movie, rest assured that I will buy the DVD the day it comes out. Then, when they release the extended all-out version, I’ll buy that. I’ve already purchased fifteen movie posters or so. I never claimed not to be a hopeless fan-boy. I’m just so glad that they did it in a way that I found it so enjoyable, even if Logtar and Becky and others didn’t care as much for it.

Category: Theater

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7 Responses to More Thoughts on the Watchmen

  1. a_c says:

    I never read the comics and still thought the opening sequence was the best part of the movie. (Partly I think because something about the philosophy of the rest of the movie disturbed me.)

  2. trumwill says:

    What aspect of the philosophy disturbed you?

  3. a_c says:

    Well, it struck me as a very cynical movie. Other superhero movies have had the theme of how difficult it is to do good, even for powerful people, and I’m fine with that. But Watchmen brought us several characters who are essentially uninterested in doing good, and the application of power (in this alternate universe) ended up making things substantially worse. The most likeable (or least repulsive) characters, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, were made so because their actions were basically irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

    Another thing I suppose is that I interpreted the political aspect of the story as a last-gasp revisionism by the culture of the ’60s: “Sure, we made a right royal hash of things, but here’s a caricature of what’d happen if our right-wing opponents won, and see how much worse everything is!” In this view the Comedian is a parody of the macho All-American male, while Dr. Manhattan is the epitome of cold technological progress. Together these two characters created most of the dystopian elements of this alternate history, and it is probably no coincidence that these two are the only superheroes permitted by the dark American government.

    It’s odd, because I *like* many aspects of the story, particularly the utilitarian vs. justice tension between Ozymandias and Rorschach, and I understand that part of the point of the story is that caped adventurers can just as well be right bastards as heroes. But it bothers me that in the story, if you give people power, they’ll inevitably do whatever they want, with no visible conscience or concern for justice. I expect callousness from institutions, but not (universally) from individuals.

  4. trumwill says:

    I appreciate your thoughts, AC. “Nihilistic” is the word that I have used to describe the underlying philosophy. I was wondering if that was where you were headed.

    I had always figured that Nixon’s role was sort of as a but-worse stand-in for Reagan rather than a rejection of the rejection of the 60’s, but your explanation makes a good deal of sense. I’ll have to think on that.

    Regarding your last point, my takeaway was that to be in a position to make any real sort of change, you have to be too far removed from the lives you would be changing to do any good. Sort of like the old saying that anyone willing to do what it takes to become president ought to be disqualified. It’s a depressing thought.

  5. a_c says:

    Actually I might as well ask someone who’s read the comics: in the opening montage there’s a scene with Kennedy’s assassination, with the Comedian peeking from behind a bush. Is it implied that *he* killed Kennedy, or did he foil the assassination, or what’s going on?

  6. Kevin says:

    Pardon me for interrupting. The Comedian’s presence on the grassy knoll is unique to the movie. There is nothing in the comic to suggest that he was involved in Kennedy’s assassination in any way. As Will pointed out, he’s older in the movie than he was in the comic, and his presence at the Kennedy assassination may be the reason why.

    One aspect of the comic that does not figure at all in the movie is the Tales from the Black Freighter. In the comic, one of the minor characters is a kid who hangs out at the same newstand that both Rorschach and his prison psychiatrist patronize. He reads a comic about a pirate (because superheroes are real, the comics in this alternate universe are about pirates), called Tales from the Black Freighter. In this story, there is a sailor whose shipmates are destroyed by the Black Freighter. Convinced that the Black Freighter is headed for his home, he builds a raft out of his deceased comrades, sails home, murders two innocent townspeople who are out for a late stroll, believing them to be confederates of the Black Freighter, rushes to his house, and is in the process of killing his wife when she mouths his name. He looks up to see his kids, realizes what he’s done, and, realizing what “innocent intent” had driven him to, swims out to join the Black Freighter, which is waiting offshore. The sailor in the story symbolizes Veidt, who commits his mass murder with the best of intentions. Because there are no thought balloons for the main characters, our only insight into Veidt’s head are the thoughts of the sailor, as he tries to prevent the massacre of his town. At the end of the comic, in a scene missing from the movie, Veidt tells Dr. Manhattan that he dreams at night about swimming toward a great black freighter. There is right and wrong in the comic, so I would not describe it as nihilistic.

  7. trumwill says:

    Actually, it is implied that Comedian might have been responsible for Kennedy’s assassination in the comic. I can’t remember who says it (I think Adrian or Laurie), but he it was mentioned suggestively that he was in Dallas when it happened and I came away with the impression that he was one of the conspiracy theories for what happened. The movie took that and ran with it.

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