#267 In which our hero discusses a movie that he may have mentioned his desire to see in passing, pt. II
Part I here.
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE, BUT UNDERSTOOD.
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?
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE AND DIDN'T UNDERSTAND
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.
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.