Rorschach’s Journ–Ah, Screw It: My Thoughts on Watchmen

Yes, the rumors are true: I have finally seen Watchmen.  In brief, I liked it.  I liked it quite a bit–maybe more than I thought I would.

watchmen

For the purposes of this review, I think I should first let you all know about my relationship to Watchmen.  I have read Alan Moore’s opus.  While I enjoyed the book, and acknowledge the influence it had on the comic book industry, I do not consider it to be Holy Scripture.  In fact, given the choice, I’d probably choose to re-read Chris Claremont’s Dark Phoenix Saga before I’d choose Watchmen.  That’s actually one of the reasons I waited so long to see the movie.  If it sucked, I did not need to get trampled in a stampede of rabid Alan Moore fans as they charged out of the theater to set cars on fire.

Turns out I really didn’t have much to worry about.

What worked?  Well, for starters, the cast.  I’m pretty willing to accept other rorschach2people’s opinions about things–especially since I expect the same in return–but, if you’ve read Watchmen and do not think that Jackie Earle Haley totally nailed Rorschach, then you obviously hate puppies, candy, and America.  Sure, Haley’s “I’m the Goddamn Batman” growl isn’t exactly how I imagined the character would sound, but all other things being equal, it worked pretty well.  Haley might have walked away with the movie, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson were also quite good as The Comedian and Nite Owl, respectively.  I’m willing to admit that I might be the only person on the planet who was excited to see Matt Frewer playing Moloch and Rob LaBelle as Wally Weaver–possibly the first time since Taken that these two fine character actors have appeared in the same production–but, I did “squee” internally when I saw them both for the first time.

Now, what can I say about Malin Akerman?  Correction: What can I say about Malin Akerman that won’t get me smacked by every woman I know?  Yes, Akerman’s Silk Spectre was pretty easy on the eyes.*  She also kind of looks like an adult version of Violet Parr, which is not a bad thing:

silk2 key_violet1

If I have one negative thing to say about Akerman’s performance it’s this: she comes off as too young.  Unless my math is off, Jupiter was about 27 when the Keene Act was passed, which would make her 35 in 1985.  Akerman, god bless her, looks at least a decade younger.  Not a deal breaker, just an observation.

For the most part, I think Billy Crudup did a pretty good job as Doctor Manhattan, although there were times when he came off as childlike, as opposed to disconnected.  I think the real weak link in the cast was Matthew Goode.  For someone who’s supposed to be the perfect human, Goode’s Ozymandias comes off as excruciatingly bland.  Maybe I’ve misread him in the book, but I would have expected him to be much more charismatic and a lot less…dull.

From a storytelling standpoint, both David Hayter and Zach Snyder did a good job of cutting down the massive text of Moore’s original, without losing too much of the core story.  The decision to use the opening credit sequence to tell a large chunk of the Minutemen backstory was a brilliant one, as were the decisions made regarding which aspects of the main characters’ backstories to include, and which to cut.  I was blown away by the adaptation of “The Abyss Gazes Also” and “Old Ghosts”–my favorite chapters–although I must agree with the overwhelming sentiment that the bathroom scene between Rorschach and Big Figure came off as a bit odd.

Personally, I didn’t miss the squid.  Again, this could go back to my whole “I don’t worship at the altar of Watchmen” thing, but I think the change works.  From a storytelling point of view, there wasn’t nearly enough time to fully explain Ozy’s giant mutant brain-squid.  However, we were shown the destructive nature of Doctor Manhattan’s powers throughout the entire film.  (It just struck me this morning that the Watchmen film basically used the “exploding man” story that Heroes did at the end of its first season, a storyline that was attacked for “stealing” the idea of destroying New York to create world peace from Moore’s Watchmen…and I found the whole thing pretty funny.)

Oh, and was it me or was Archie’s flamethrower the greatest ejaculatory metaphor ever caught on film?

What didn’t work?  The slo-mo.  Stop with the slow motion action scenes already, will ya!  Enough.  Once or twice, maybe, to prove a point or show something particularly awesome, but you don’t have to do it every time someone throws a punch.  I fear that the “Superhero Slo-Mo” may soon ruin films just like Bullet Time did.

Overall, I’d give Watchmen a 9 out of 10, with most of that last point going in the “Not bad, but not what I would have done” column.

===========

*: Seriously, have you seen Malin Akerman?!?

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13 responses to “Rorschach’s Journ–Ah, Screw It: My Thoughts on Watchmen

  1. “Seriously, have you seen Malin Akerman?!?”

    Yeah, she’s pretty funny looking. BUT I think she did a pretty good job. Her acting wasn’t nearly as bad as it was in 27 Dresses, where her performance was like watching a five year old performing a talent show for her parents. Horrible.

  2. This is the moment where I’m tempted to ask how many times you’ve read ‘Watchmen.’ Because I think it’s a book that changes as you reread it or, at least, that’s been my experience. It’s not that I worship the book, it’s that I find it infinitely rewarding it its layers.

    *Anyway*. Ozymandias was the biggest problem I had with the movie, too, on first viewing. He’s definitely the biggest change. But once I’ve thought about it and adjusted my perspective for ‘movieverse,’ I like the interpretation more than I did. I feel like if you knew a guy who wanted to save the world and talked about Alexander the great all the time, he probably WOULD bore people into submission — and thus sneak up on them.

    So, I’ll give you the semi-plasticky Malin Ackerman, if you give me ‘I’m bland and pretty, I kill you now ‘ Ozymandias ;).

    Random thing I noticed this time around that works for 1985, not for now. Veidt is sitting there watching his hundreds of TV’s when Rorschach and Dan come in. He ‘did it 35 minutes ago’ but there’s no sign of this on any of the televisions until he turns it back on several minutes later. With the 24 hour news cycle, that would never happen! But in the 80s, I suppose, it was at least as plausible as highly-guessable passwords.

  3. @Ashley Hey, do I pick on Fat-suit Lee Adama? I actually have no point of reference regarding her acting ability, since this is the first thing I think I’ve seen her in, so I’ll take your word for it.

    @Caroline I’ve read it three times. The last time was about a week ago.

    I guess you have a point about Ozy being something of a bore (I can only imagine the kind of conversations he and Cyke would have over cups of Ovaltine).

    You can have Bland Ozy…and I’ll take “Oh, what does this button with the pretty picture of fire do?” Girl. So dense…but oh-so-very limber.

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget how things were before 24-hour news. It’s like when I watch LETHAL WEAPON, and they ask for the mobile phone…and three guys come out carrying this thing that looks like it came straight out of the Battle of Guadalcanal. Ah, The ’80s…

  4. Yeah, somebody pointed out that bit about the fire — if she’s lighting a cigarette it makes sense. But god knows, we can show the pretty girl break someone’s neck but SMOKING IS WRONG.

    *sighs*

  5. The slo-mo really got old quick. I felt like it was all Snyder can do.

    What’s with the ladies hating on Malin Akerman? I don’t remember whether he acting was all that bad, but that’s probably because I spent most of the time gawking.

  6. Let me clarify: I don’t hate Malin Akerman. I think she’s passable, and this role happened to suit her talents. Sexy, bendy, not much depth. They say that comedy is much harder to do than drama or action, and she was *not* good at comedy. (She’s not so much with the subtle.) But yeah I don’t hate her. I’m just meh.

  7. And hey! Don’t be hating on Fat Lee; he was going through an emotionally trying time in his life and also he was married to Dee, so . . .

  8. @Caroline Yes. Violence is completely acceptable, especially if you’re breaking someone out of prison…but smoking is just wrong.

    @Craig I don’t think it’s hating as much as good-natured ribbing.

    @Ashley Yes, re: comedy, it is a lot harder than it looks (that’s what she said). Also, you’re right, if I was married to Dee, I’d spend all of my free time in the mess hall, too.

  9. The jail break scene was *weird*, with Dan & Laurie exchanging cutesy smiles, particularly the one after she beat up the cop. Those seemed like they were supposed to convey something, but I don’t have a good sense of what it was.

  10. heh; I saw the movie FOR Matt Frewer, so no worries — you’re not alone there!

  11. I have an announcement. Rorschache and I are getting married. Yes, I realize he is a little off his rocker at times, but he’s a badass. Therefore, we’re getting hitched. Although Dr. Manhattan might need to sort of *SPOILER* put him back together before that happens.

  12. Heh.

    That’s awesome news, Jen!! Silk Spectre and I will be there with bells on.

  13. Apropos to nothing “For someone who’s supposed to be the perfect human, Goode’s Ozymandias comes off as excruciatingly bland.” Surely the perfect human would be bland, it’s our imperfections that make us interesting.

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