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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
But I still like the book’s ending better. In the movie, all Veidt has change who is hated by the public. It used to be the Russians, but now it’s Manhattan. They have a face and a specific person to hate. In the book’s ending, all they could do is fear aliens, they couldn’t really hate them.
Think of it this way: I figure, there will be Manhattan sympathizers on Earth moving forward, people who sort of grasp that he had to do this to prevent total annihilation. You think those people won’t have hatred turned towards them by the masses? I don’t see there being as many alien sympathizers in the post-novel world.
It wasn’t enough to ruin the movie for me, but it was a black mark.
Posted 03/09 at 11:03 AM
I realize my last comment, calling Rorshach a “simple-minded thug”, could probably come off as harsh. I just hope too many people don’t identify with him as they see the movie, because he’s a symbol of problems with society. Even he realizes this at the end, when he begs Manhattan to kill him; he know he can’t exist in a peaceful world full of ambiguity (which ultimately causes him to win me over). He sees things in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, which has gotten the world into a lot of trouble over the years. Anyone taking away from the movie that he’s a Christ-like figure (I was so afraid his blood on the snow would look like a crucifix) is misguided.
Posted 03/09 at 11:06 AM
Not certain of the factual element here, because I’ve slept in the last few weeks, but didn’t you mention when they announced the release of, “Watchmen” that is coincided with your birthday? or, was that somebody else? I dunno.
Posted 03/09 at 11:16 AM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Royce: not my birthday. Mine is July 14th. March 7th was my brother’s birthday, though, and I may have said something about that.
Posted 03/09 at 11:18 AM
Chris H. said...
I, for one, had indeed been reading Veidt’s name as “veet” all these years. That doesn’t make sense given the common i-before-e/i-after-e rules, but that’s how I read it.
I liked the music overall. I figured they were just taking the cues from the book, for the most part.
I do agree that eliminating Laurie’s smoking made the flame-thrower thing kind of dopey.
Posted 03/09 at 11:30 AM
Chris H. said...
themarksmith: my son had exactly the same reaction about a longer cut. Having read the book, I think a longer edit will flesh some things out better, but I can see why folks who haven’t read it would have your perspective.
Posted 03/09 at 11:31 AM
well, both sally and laurie now that you mention it, but i more so the old mom. they got her drinking, which is good, but the smoking, coughing and hacking is how i always pictured her. a real mess. that laurie didnt smoke is not as bothersome (but the archie flame thrower bit is a good point, too).
as for why they cut it, doubt it was to spare the children from a bad influence. the comedian is still chompin cigars. i think it was merely a style choice.
Posted 03/09 at 12:02 PM
Chris H. said...
Oddly, Hollywood doesn’t seem to view cigars with the same negative light that it does cigarettes.
Plus, the Comedian was a rapist and murderer, so showing him smoking is okay, I guess.
(Zack Snyder commented that when the suits saw “Lesbian Whores” written on the wall in the opening, they immediately knew the movie would get an R. Had it just been “whores,” they would’ve been OK with a PG-13. Of course, other stuff in the movie would’ve popped it back to an R, but it’s all about the inconsistency. You should all now go watch “This Film is Not Yet Rated.”)
Posted 03/09 at 12:11 PM
If you have seen Shrek, you have heard of Cale’s version of Hallelujah.
I fall in Eddo’s camp regarding liking the book’s ending better (way better, in my case). I’m not saying it would have worked in the movie, but you know, they didn’t have to do a squid, which might have looked silly in a movie and confused the masses. They could have used some other invention that wasn’t a squid. I have some other complaints about unnecessary (but minor) choices made, but I will hold my fire until I see it a second time.
Posted 03/09 at 12:17 PM
As for the ending, I agree that using a squid would have been too out-there for viewers who had not read the book. Like you say, though, a different creature or something could have been used. Maybe a fake flying saucer or something? I just think aliens work so much better than Manhattan.
Posted 03/09 at 12:23 PM
Ethan Stock said...
Re: full frontal on Dr. Manhattan—in our group of 12 there were no complaints at all from the four ladies. I said over food after “they didn’t need to show that much” and someone said, “Oh yes they did!” I pointed out that the movie probably had the highest penis-to-breast ratio of any R movie, ever, and the consensus was, “good!”
Posted 03/09 at 12:56 PM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Ethan: anyone in your group notice that the book’s Dr. Manhattan was uncircumsized, but in the movie he was snipped?
Not, um, that I noticed that or anything. Cause I never notice that sort of thing.
Posted 03/09 at 01:02 PM
I am usually harsh on major changes to source material, but in this case I think they pulled it off beautifully:
1) In the book, the alien entity is basically a new character introduced without warning or explanation to the people of earth. By contrast the power of DrM is already well understood/feared, so when he “turns on humanity” everyone immediately gets what that means.There is no casting about: “What was it? Was it an alien? Really? No it’s gotta be a trick…Aliens? Really?”, It’s just: “Crap, DrM turned on us. We done f’d up, boys.” I think for the alien to really work Veidt would have needed to fake some blips on the NASA radar over the course of the story to plant the idea in humanity’s head that ALIENS are now a thing to be worried about.
2) The main problem with Veidt’s plan in the book is that there are no actual aliens. The whole thing was a one time fake job—eventually complacency will return to the Great Powers when there are no follow up attacks. DrM, on the other hand, actually exists, everyone knows that he exists, and everyone knows he can return at anytime. Which brings me to my last point…
3) In the book, the Great Powers only unite because they have been confronted with a hostile Them that places all humanity together into a collective Us. Plausible? Maybe. But does it really get to the heart of the problem? I don’t think so. In the movie’s version DrM has punished humanity for their transgressions. Would you think twice about escalating earthly conflicts if you knew the Big Blue God was watching and had a history of wiping out that of which he disapproves? I sure would. Nixon’s bellicose rhetoric about “getting Dr Manhattan aside” I think fear of DrM will keep war off the table far better than subconscious Us/Them distinctions.
All in all, I was pleased with the adoption. My fiancée had not read the book and came away very impressed with the characters/story and is planning to read the original as soon as I get it back from a friend I lent my copy to. Put me down as having hated the music though. I get that they were taking their cues from quotes in book, but Jesus, I don’t think it translated well at all. Ending a chapter with a short, haunting Bob Dylan quote does not mean you should have the Owl Ship charging into battle with Jimi Hendrix cranked to 10. Ride of the Valkyries for the Vietnam scene? C’mon. People are trying to tell me its ironic, but it didn’t feel that way to be. I think they meant it.
Posted 03/09 at 01:15 PM
My main problem with the ending was that it came too fast, and I couldn’t figure out exactly what earth’s reaction was supposed to be. In the movie, I thought the earth was uniting to defeat Manhattan, which makes no sense. He can’t be defeated—and Russia wouldn’t trust the U.S. anyways since Manhattan is American.
mkd’s fear of retribution makes sense, but I just didn’t see in the film. I hear his objections to not convincing people of the reality of the alien, but what other explanation could there be for the big squid? And Manhattan isn’t in the punishment business anymore, although I guess the world might not know that.
Posted 03/09 at 03:12 PM
Chris H. said...
I think the whole second half was rushed, but the ending in particular: there was no time to build up to the denouement, or to show how the world really reacts to the new situation. It just whizzed by too fast.
Posted 03/09 at 03:14 PM
The Shrek version was Wainright, at least on the soundtrack. I checked Allmusic to verify.
Posted 03/09 at 03:31 PM
Posted 03/09 at 03:43 PM
I’m going to see the movie Thursday night. I have NOT read the book yet, mainly because I’m a book-to-movie snob. Normally, I read the book first and then am disapointed to varying degrees by the movie.
The one big exception is Lord of the Rings (my favorite book of all time). While I still enjoyed the books WAY more than the movie, I would definitely say that I would have enjoyed the movies far less had I not read the books. Maybe this is one of those cases. If I go to the library tonight, any way I can pound the book out before Thursday night?
Posted 03/09 at 05:43 PM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Daniel—yeah, you can do it. No sweat.
Posted 03/09 at 06:40 PM
Were there a bunch of parents with children in the theatre when you went? There were at least a dozen kids that couldn’t have been any older than 10 or so at the showing I went to. It’s a good thing they put ratings on movies for a reason…
Posted 03/10 at 01:44 PM