Saturday, 28 February 2009

I've Watched the Watchmen: A geek's perspective

Well, I finally got to see the film last night thanks to a special screening organized by Dave Gibbons for his chums. In attendance were Lee "Budgie" Barnett - host of the popular Hypotheticals panel at Bristol Comic Expo, Chris Weston - the fantastic detail-obsessed artist(!), and Mike Lake, co-founder of the original Forbidden Planet—and one of the few people thanked at the front of the graphic novel.

The film whizzed by in 2.5 hours, and never dragged once. However, everyone agreed that for someone who hasn't read the book, it might be a tad incomprehensible. But we all had, and it's a geek's dream come true. Loads of wonderful in-jokes to look out for and it remains extremely faithful to the book. I actually got a chill when Rorschach and Nite Owl approach Ozymandius' Antarctic base and Jimmi Hendrix's All along the Watchtower struck up. The other great sequence is Rorschach in prison.

Obviously, there was tons that had to be sacrificed for time, including the news vendor and black kid, the psychologist’s home life (Rorschach’s life story is condensed into a 5 minute sequence), the lesbian cab driver, the death of Hollis Mason... all of these aspects were missing. Hopefully, all this will be put into the 12-hour long director's cut DVD! The destruction of New York actually felt a bit flat to me, and lost the human resonance because we hadn't had the opportunity to get to know the victims, but that's a minor quibble.

My only major gripe was director Zack Synder's fascination with ultra-violence that verged on the pornographic. His fetishizing of acts of extreme nastiness (close-ups of arms being broken, people shot in the head, etc) all slowed down and zoomed in on, stuck in my craw and felt unnecessary and uncomfortable. Over all, the general consensus with everyone mentioned here was a very happy 4/5 or 9/10, so not bad for an "unfilmable" film.

For all of that, I can still see Alan's point of view that it's no replacement for the book and really Hollywood should get off its fat, lazy arse and start generating original ideas rather than raping the comics industry.

Big shout to Joseph Melchior for the very excellent blag, and to Dave for setting it up!

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine