Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#267 In which our hero discusses a movie that he may have mentioned his desire to see in passing, pt. II

Part I here.


The pacing.

This was, by far, my biggest gripe about the entire movie. It just seemed like everything moved so fast. Of course, there's a lot of ground to cover in the comic, and Zack Snyder seemed determined to keep as true to (and as much of) the source as he could. But the result, in my opinion, was a breakneck pace. I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, this is good... imagine how much better it would be if they had more time... like a 12-hour HBO miniseries.”

So, even though I enjoyed seeing all this little moments from the comic, none of them got as much attention as they deserved. Take Rorschach's series of interviews with the doctor in prison. This is reduced to a single encounter lasting a minute or so. I'm curious if people who hadn't read the comic felt the same as I did. The comic unfolds at a somewhat leisurely pace, comparatively. But if you hadn't read the book, maybe it just seemed like an action-packed movie.

After watching the movie, I have a renewed respect for how well the comic narrative is put together. One event flows nicely to the next; and things that you thought were just set dressing turn out to be important in the end (Oh, the crazy guy with the END IS NEAR sign was really Rorschach? That missing comic book writer was key to the mystery? In the end Ozymandious refers to The Black Freighter thing going through the entire movie? No shit?)

The fast pace also forced some of the things that unspooled organically in the book to seem rushed to the point of incomprehension in the movie. Doctor Manhattan is the perfect example of this. In the comic he started out in a full black body suit for a costume. As time passed his costume became skimpier and skimpier until he wore nothing at all. But in the movie, rather than this being an illuminating metaphor for him becoming more and more disassociated from the human race, he starts out in a Speedo then, a scene later, he’s naked.


There was no way that everything was going to fit in this movie, but some of the critical sub-plots which needed to be there were almost just mentioned in passing.

The Comedian/Silk Spectre I/Silk Spectre II sub-plot is a perfect example. We see the Comedian trying to rape Laurie’s mother, then we find out he’s actually Laurie’s father. No time is spent developing this incredibly complicated and human relationship.

And there are other odd incongruities, things related to sub-plots that weren’t developed. Like Bubastis. Without the tie-in to the squid, and the explanation that she (Bubastis) was an early triumph in genetic manipulation... there's really no reason for her to be in the movie. In fact, I have to think that virgin viewers would think, “Um, what the hell is that? And why's it in this movie?” Also, near the end when Doctor Manhattan reassembles himself (again) he speaks the line right out of the comic; “It didn't kill Osterman, did you think it would kill me?” And I had to stop and think, have they established that Doctor Manhattan's real name is Osterman? Was that even mentioned?


Silk Spectre & Ozymandias’ costumes

Like I said, I liked most of the costume updates, but these two really fell flat for me. From the first still I saw of Silk Spectre’s costume I didn’t like it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for skin-tight latex on the ladies, but her costume seemed needlessly complicated. I guess that’s a corset thing around her middle? It just seemed to me that you could have updated his costume, kept it sexy, but not have had so many moving parts. But I actually have much bigger issues with Ozymandias’ getup. I understand that the gold and purple thing of the comic doesn’t seem especially heroic onscreen… and they did capture the Egyptian feel of it in the movie. But I hated the giant foam muscles. Not only was it obnoxious (and way too reminiscent of the worst of the movie Batman suits), it didn’t feel true to the character. Ozymandias never enjoyed playing superhero like the others, and he certainly didn’t need to enhance his look with fake muscles. If anything, it seems like Ozymandias would have a simpler, more functional costume.

Laurie and Dan getting mugged.

This is right out of the comic, of course... Laurie and Dan and jumped by a gang of toughs in an alley, and they have to fight them off. But unlike the comic, Laurie and Dan seemed to have no qualms about MURDERING several of them. As in, NiteOwl snaps a guy's neck, and Silk Spectre stabs a guy in the neck with a knife. They're still supposed to be superHEROES, and this just seemed way out of character.

The ending.

Yes, I know I wrote that I was okay with the ending… and mostly I am. But there’s something fundamentally different about positioning the attack as being from Doctor Manhattan and from an alien squid. In the comic, it’s made clear that the squid appearing wasn’t an act of war, it was a mistake. As such, the world unites to deal with something that may or may not occur in the future. This, in my mind, makes it much more conceivable that Adrian could guide the world toward a new utopia. Because this wouldn’t happen in the movie version. If all of the world’s governments thought that Doctor Manhattan attacked them, and that he might do it again at any moment, this wouldn’t lead to utopia… if anything, it would lead to the largest police state ever known. I can’t imagine any politician would support funding for the arts when a giant blue mass-murderer was on the loose. If anything, the world would be united in building the biggest gun possible. This would lead to a state of unending war preparation… something not conducive to enlightened thinking.

I’m sure there’s plenty of other little things that I loved or hated that I’m forgetting at the moment. I did only see it once. After I’ve watched it a bunch of times on DVD (oh yes, I’ll definitely be buying the super-duper extended director’s cut platinum edition) will I pick up on everything.

Maybe I’ll even go see it again in the theater. But if I want to, I best hurry… it’s kinda tanking. Which really tells me everything I need to know about want non-fanboys think of it.




#267 In which our hero discusses a movie that he may have mentioned his desire to see in passing, pt. I

I spent a fair amount of time obsessing about the Watchmen movie on this site before its release and now people (and by “people” I mean my brother-in-law) are busting my balls about not commenting on it. So, my thoughts on the Watchmen movie follow.

A little aside first: The Scientist and I planned on seeing it opening day. I’m really not an opening day sort of guy, but I was extremely curious about the movie and -ahem- eager to see it, so we made plans. In fact, I took a half-day off work so we could see a matinee. Seemed like the best way to avoid the crush of unwashed fanboys. So we planned on meeting at a theater that’s about halfway between home and my work.

I left work a little later than planned, so I was rushing to get to the theater. Thankfully, the route is a little four lane divided highway that doesn’t see a lot of traffic outside of rush hour. But, of course, since I was trying to get to a movie, it suddenly became s a huge stop and go traffic jam. The road rage immediately wells up inside me. I call my wife to say something like, “Well, I’m suddenly stuck in a FUCKING traffic jam for no GODDAMN good reason and I’m not even FUCKING sure if I can get to the COCK-SUCKING theater in time now!”

Another aside: I’m very particular about where I sit in a movie. I like to be three-quarters of the way back, and as centered as possible. And it’s not just that I’m a prima donna… if I sit too close to the screen it strains my eyes (and if I have to sit in the first couple rows, it strains my neck). I hate it. This most likely stems from going to movies with my friends in high school and screwing around so much ahead of time that we got crappy seats. So now, anytime we’re running even slightly late for a movie, I, well, I turn into a dick. Because I want good seats! The Scientist is well aware of this propensity to dickness, and does what she can to keep us on time.

So, taking these two factors into consideration, I was nearly beside myself trying to get to the theater. And, as it turns out, I got there on time, and even had time to pee before it started (it is 3 hours long, y’know). So when we finally entered the theater we found maybe 10 other people in there. THEN we sat through 15 minutes worth of coming attractions. All my stress was for nothing.

So, on to the actual movie. And here’s the part where I have to say SPOILERS AHEAD, and if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to have anything ruined stop reading now and blah, blah, blah. Frankly, if you’ve read this far, I’m going to assume you’re a big enough geek that you say it opening day like me.

In general, I enjoyed the movie. I knew there was going to be some major changes from the graphic novel, especially the ending (more on that later). So I went in with expectations managed, and by and large, it didn’t disappoint. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t LOVE the movie, but I did enjoy it. There were things in it that I liked very much, things I didn’t like but understood why they changed them, and things I didn’t like and didn’t understand.


The sets.

I read ahead of time about the amount of detail they put into the sets, and it really showed. Every room was packed with little details, most of which flashed by far too fast to really appreciate. I imagine that once out on HD DVD, there will be plenty for fanboys to pause and admire. I especially enjoyed the care they took to match the color schemes from the comic. Dave Gibbons (the guy who drew Watchmen) took care to choose colors that were fairly non-traditional… most comics, at least old-school comics, use primary colors: reds, greens, blues. Watchmen used a lot of secondary colors, especially oranges and purples. By the way, the original comic was colored by a man named John Higgins, who rarely gets any credit for his contribution to Watchmen.

The costume updates.

Comic book costumes rarely translate well on the screen; that’s why you’re not seeing Wolverine running around in yellow and blue spandex in the X-Men movies. And remember that this comic came out in the 80’s, so the costuming aesthetic is a little different. By and large, the costume updates were cool (with two notable exceptions in my mind, see below). It’s no secret that Rorschach is my favorite character, and he looked great. Niteowl’s update was a rather big change, but it stayed true to the original, I thought. Also: the Owlship was dead on. And I really liked how they handled Doctor Manhattan. I sure at some point some studio head said, “Um, does this guy really need to be naked the entire time?” But naked he was, and unabashedly so. In the comic he clearly had some sort of odd texture to his skin, and I think they made a real effort to convey that… even if it just ended up making him look dirty most of the time, in my opinion.

Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach.

Holy crap, this guy did a fantastic job. I was a little iffy on him from some of the trailers I saw, but in the movie he completely pulls it off. I think I enjoyed him as the unmasked Rorschach even more than when he was wearing his “face.” The voice, the stiffness of his movements, the emotion in the end… incredible. I would have liked to see a whole lot more of him.

The ending.

Not that I didn’t want to see the giant squid, we ALL wanted to see the giant squid… but there’s just no way that was going to happen. I mean, in the end this still had to be a movie with broad appeal. If, after spending 2 ½ hours in a movie theater, the typical non-fanboy was suddenly presented with a giant intra-dimensional squid monster, there would have been hell to pay. I’m sure many people were confused as it was, but the WTF? reaction coming out of the theater would have been off the charts.

I thought the ending as presented still embraced the spirit of the comic (not that there aren’t problems with it, again, see below) but presented it in a fashion that was easily explained and digested by the non-obsessive fan.

This is getting really long. Think I’ll break it into two parts.


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The other day The Scientist was in a mood. Which affected me only slightly, being that I was leaving to go do something or other.
THE SCIENTIST: Man, I am pissed off.
ME: Why? What happened?
TS: Nothing that I can think of… I’m just in a mood. I mean, I am pissed!
ME: Okay.
TS: Seriously, I am not fit to be around people right now.
ME: Well, you know I still need to go out, right?
TS: Yes, yes, that’s fine.
ME: Don’t murder the children or anything, okay?
An hour later, I got this text:

Oh no! What happened?!

Dear God! What have you done? What have you done!


So yes, an evening of murder/suicide. Or was it... the little feet in the final photo are a little ominous, don't you think?


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