#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.
THINGS I LIKED.
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.
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.