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Monday, March 09, 2009
Today at THTSleepy this morning because I went to the late showing of "Watchmen" last night. Loved it, of course. My only quibbles were minor ones:
1. Malin Akerman, who played Laurie/Silk Spectre II, was perfect when she kicked people's asses and did sexy things. When she spoke, eh, kind of reminded me of Sofia Coppola in Godfather III. Thankfully, the ass-kicking/sexy to speaking ratio stayed within acceptable parameters;
2. I don't think the casting was right for Veidt, as Matthew Goode kind of came off as a petulant schoolboy. Based on the book, I kind of expected someone a bit older and weathered. Maybe someone with a tan, rested and ready vibe. I know the fanboys wanted Ralph Fiennes for that role for years, but I have to admit, he would have been perfect.
That was pretty much it. Other thoughts:
Even though all of you should have read the book by now and if you haven't you're dead to me, I won't give away any spoilers. That said, if you've read any of the pre-release publicity, you know that the ending plot point is somewhat different than the book (i.e. the giant squid thing isn't in the movie). Good move, and I really liked the new ending. It's so good that I have this feeling that Alan Moore went into a darkened theater incognito to watch the movie this weekend and left kicking himself that his original ending wasn't as elegant and as simple as the film's.
So yes, I highly recommend it. It's not going to sneak into my top 5 all time list or anything, but it stands on equal footing with "The Dark Knight" and "Spiderman II" among top comic book/geek entertainments. Final word on it: I can't imagine that people who haven't read the book got nearly as much out of the movie as those of us who have read it, so if you have any interest in this film at all and somehow haven't read "Watchmen" yet, please, do yourself a favor, take a day off work this week and read the damn thing before going to the multiplex. You'll be glad you did.
Now, on to matters slightly less geeky:
You don't understand. I'm not locked in here with you! You're locked in here with ME!
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 4:45am
So, what are your top five movies of all time, then?
Posted 03/09 at 07:34 AM
Ian C said...
My only problem with ‘Watchmen’ was that I wanted more. I left the theater wanting to watch the director’s cut right away (but went home to read the book).
I totally agree about the ending. It’s actually better than the book’s because it makes much more sense.
I always thought Brad Pitt would’ve been a good choice for Ozymandias, but casting a big star in that role may have compromised the story.
Posted 03/09 at 07:49 AM
I couldn’t agree more on your Watchmen points. Ralph Fiennes would have been perfect. Fortunately, dialogue involving Malin Ackerman did not drive the story line. She played “hot” very well though. I couldn’t help but think that Mr. Skin would like her character.
Posted 03/09 at 08:09 AM
I loved the adjusted solution instead of the squid, but I thought that everything that happened after that was ridiculous. The last conversation between Dreiberg and Spectre really angered me. They’re still crimefighting? WTF? Also, Veidt should have saved the world; instead, they protrayed him as trying to conquer it ala Alexander the Great. It robbed the movie of it’s interesting finale.
Mild spoilerish, but whatever.
Posted 03/09 at 08:09 AM
Chris H. said...
I did think the ending worked just fine. I’m not certain I think it’s better just yet, but it definitely worked.
I agree with Ian C—I wanted to see the director’s cut right away. I think the movie had some pacing issues in the second half, and felt a bit rushed.
I’m not convinced that people who haven’t read the book will like it. My son (eighteen years old) hadn’t read the book, and he had real problems keeping track of everyone. I think there are a lot of nods to those of us who’ve read the book that don’t really do anything for the story (e.g. almost everything involving the Minutemen other than the Comedian/Sally Jupiter stuff).
My son’s comment: “They should’ve taken out everyone except Rorschach, the Comedian, Dr. Manhattan and Veidt.”
I loved it, but I can definitely see how folks who haven’t read the book might be a bit lost.
Posted 03/09 at 08:13 AM
Chris H. said...
Oh, and for the record I loved actually getting to hear Rorschach say the “trapped” line, rather than having it happen off-screen (as it were).
In fact, overall I thought Rorschach was brilliant. Jackie Earle Haley was inspired casting. He actually felt more like Rorschach than the comic character did (if that makes any sense).
Posted 03/09 at 08:17 AM
Chris Kash said...
I never would have discovered Watchmen if it hadn’t been for the original Shysterball posting Craig did back when the first trailer came out. I had to find out what all these people were talking about. I devoured the book over a Thanksgiving trip to visit my family. Since that time I’ve been a huge fan and eagerly awaited the movie. I saw it Friday night and loved it.
I agree with Chris H.‘s comment and with Shyster’s warning about watching the movie cold. There were quite a few people sittign around me in my sold-out showing who openly complained about not being able to keep up or make sense of things. One couple walked out during the prison riot when Big Figure attempts to get at Rorschach.
Thanks Craig for introducing me to Watchmen. My wife may not feel the same way since my house is filling up with books, CDs and whatever else I can get my hands on!
Posted 03/09 at 08:55 AM
Craig Calcaterra said...
From here on out, if you read a comment in this thread, be prepared for Watchmen spoilers. If you don’t want spoilers, go somwhere else.
My top five can be a bit fluid depending on mood and stuff, but these have all appeared in it at one time or another, and in no particular order:
Like I said, though, there are probably 5-10 more that are within the margin of error for top five inclusion.
As for Watchmen: The point about Daniel and Laurie still crimefighting was alluded to in the book (Laurie talking about getting a more practical costume and carring a gun; I thought Moore was clearly hinting at her becoming Comedian II, actually, and was secretly hoping that the movie’s final scene would show her in Comedian garb).
I think the Veidt conquering/saving the world was handled very consistently with the book. He saves it in his own narrow sense, and the bit about him profiting from the reconstruction is totally in keeping with his merchandising everything under the sun to that point.
I also agree that the end was rushed, and if you hadn’t read the book, I can even imagine it seeming all contrived and tacked on. Even in the book, Daniel and Roarshach’s solving of the plot is a bit rushed and forced, isn’t it? Really: would the smartest man in the world would have had such an easily-cracked password? Even in 1985?
Also waiting for the director’s cut. Should be pretty sweet.
Posted 03/09 at 08:57 AM
Chris H. said...
In the book the password thing is even more hilarious, as Dan guesses “RAMESES” as the password, and the computer prompts, “Password incomplete; do you wish to add rider?”
The other comment my son had was, “And what was the deal with Manhattan being naked all the time? I didn’t need to see that.”
Word has it the Blu-Ray will not only include the director’s cut but Tales from the Black Freighter as well, with the option to watch TftBF integrated with the movie via seamless branching.
Posted 03/09 at 09:23 AM
yeah i found watchmen to be more enjoyable than i expected. i’d like to talk to someone who saw the movie but hasnt read the book but for me, after all the hype and my dread of seeing someone try to film the ‘unfilmable’ and fail, i thought it was an excellent job all around.
my biggest issue with the ending is it takes out the ambiguity of whether what veidt did was justifiable or simply monstorus (and obviated the need for the black frieghter parallel sub plot, which probably helped the movie in the grand scheme of things). theres no ‘rebuilding’ scene in the book, and thats deliberate. we’re not supposed to know if veidt’s (btw, anyone else think it was pronounced veet and not vite this whole time?) horrifying plan works or not. and they also cut out veidt’s chat with dr manhattan right before the big blue guy goes off to start his own ‘life’. and i know it was rediculius but i liked the squid monster. it makes sense to cut it so you can also cut the mass dissaperance of artists sub plot but i found the whole ‘energy’ theme to contrived and included to make it topically relevant. in the book the power stations where people ‘juice up’ are already on every street corner, and it’s dr manhattan (again) who make its possible, not veidt.
Still, i thought the movie worked well. the opening montage was inspired and the rorschack, dreiberg scene in the beginning with the beans was perfect.
so yeah, it thought it kicked plenty of ass and was amazing faithful to the source material. defintiley the closest i’ve ever seen a comic book movie adapt a limited series like that. and the ending was a bit of a let down but i’m not going to get my underoos in a bunch because of it. and likewise, i will anxiously await the director’s cut on dvd.
Posted 03/09 at 09:42 AM
I loved The Watchmen as well, but I haven’t read it. For me, the first half was a bit long, and I thought some of it was unnecessary from solely the movie plot. It probably makes more sense had I read the book, but I’m not sure how some of the backstory really added much to it. Still, I really liked the movie, but for those who want to see the Director’s Cut, how much longer can that movie be?
Posted 03/09 at 09:43 AM
I have not read the book, but saw the movie. I liked it. I didn’t think it was on par with the Dark Knight, but close to Spiderman II. Maybe if I had read the book it would have inched up. I have to say, I had no trouble keeping track, it wasn’t really all that complicated.
The obvious music choices almost killed it for me. I mean, can you get any more cliche than The Times They Are A’Changin’ for a montage through history, Sound of Silence for a funeral and Ride of the Valkyries for a war scene?
Posted 03/09 at 09:51 AM
Craig, I agree totally with your points on the casting of Veidt. He came across a little too “emo” for me, and a little to scrawny. I just couldn’t buy that this skinny little kid could handle Rorshach and Nite Owl at the same time.
I, however, have some quibbles with the ending:
*** SPOILER BELOW ***
2. I think this is touched upon in the movie, too. In the aftermath of an alien attack, there’s not a whole lot that the U.S. or Russians could do; the point of it is to make the superpowers realize fighting amongst themselves is futile when a totally detached enemy could attack at any moment. While this is true with the movie’s ending, too, it leads to one other side-effect: there will still be military spending, just directed at a third party. The film shows Nixon saying as much, something along the lines of, “We’re going to get Dr. Manhattan.” That’s all well and good, but at what point in the U.S.‘s military development do they say, “Gee, while we’re building weapons to stop Manhattan, why don’t we set some aside in case the Russians get ornery?”, or vice versa.
Overall, though, I liked the movie. I’ve heard complaints about the use of such popular songs, but I think that actually adds to the movie, as it really needs to be over-the-top in how the world is basically the same and how Watchmen is also a commentary on culture and society. The opening credits, featuring “The Times They Are A-Changing”, was my favorite part of the movie by far.
Posted 03/09 at 09:57 AM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Aarcraft: Yeah, those were a little on the nose, eh? In way of weak defense, there are some musical cues suggested in the book that probably led the filmakers in that direction. “All along the Watchtower” being a specific one that probably led to others.
I was not a fan of the use of Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in the sex scene myself. I mean, I love Cohen, but his voice just kind of oozes irony and sleaze in a way that makes that not work for me. John Cale does a more appropriate cover of that song if they insisted on using it.
Posted 03/09 at 09:59 AM
Again, I actually liked the music choices. I think their obviousness was a strength - to me, it conveyed that this idea of having masked heroes was this huge part of the Watchmen universe.
Though I agree that “Hallelujah” was kind of cheesy there. I prefer the Rufus Wainwright version, but even it wouldn’t have worked in that seen.
Posted 03/09 at 10:23 AM
I think Jeff Buckley’s version is the only version that might of worked. I haven’t heard Cale’s. Even then, the song choice reeked of cheese.
Posted 03/09 at 10:43 AM
eddo - also good points about the ending - i agree with you.
as for anyone wondering how much more from the book could have been put into the movie? a lot.
oh also in the minor fan boy quibbling department, why wasn’t sally jupiter smoking the whole time?
Posted 03/09 at 10:44 AM
Posted 03/09 at 10:46 AM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Ken—you mean Laurie? I agree, it was distracting not seeing her smoking. I think it actually led to my disappointment with her voice and acting chops. Seeing Laurie smoke in the book all the time had me thinking that she’d have a huskier, smoky kind of voice rather than the near-valley girl thing she had in the film. Just a little distracting.
Eddo: I see your point about the ending, but I don’t know how the risk you identified—that even in the face of a common enemy, the superpowers would soon start plotting against each other again—would be any different with either ending.
Posted 03/09 at 10:48 AM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Also re: the smoking: I can only imagine that it was cut because (a) they mimimized many of the “lifestyle” improvements brought on by Dr. Manhattan, which I assume included those funky smokeless cigarettes from the book; and (b) they didn’t want to show a hero smoking in this day and age because that’s frowned on more every passing year.
And if the latter explanation is really the case, how messed up is it that the filmakers don’t feel compelled to edit out multiple scenes of limb severing, meat cleaver to the head violence and sex scenes with considerable amounts of thrusting, but can’t bring themselves to show a young woman smoking a cigarette?
Posted 03/09 at 10:56 AM