Watchmen - Everything has a Niche to Fill

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Well, that was unexpected.

Watchmen was a very long movie. Approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes of movie. Which would have done better as multiple movies. It was incredibly cluttered in that it felt like there was too much going on at once. So many scenes jumped from psychological inquiry to action to psychological exploration to nudity then finally to psychological action. This pacing that is so far beyond normalcy for most movies, and it jolts and jars the viewer repeatedly throughout the nearly 3 hours of the film's duration.

It's a very pensive pace that isn't afraid to spend time on characterization. The characters are slowly drawn out to understanding on-screen. We are still learning about some of the characters' drive, interests, and psyches even after two hours into the film. This is a good thing, because it makes the characters all very realistic and likable. Barring that, at least gives us a good idea of their personalities.

The psyche exploration travels hand-in-hand with the plot, which is an alternate-universe form of the Cold War. The entirety of humanity has placed their fate on a demi-God human named Mr. Manhattan who was given the capability of matter manipulation by a freak accident. Society panics while the main characters band together to try to come to terms with the fact that their superhero cool-kids-club was governmentally disbanded. Short of our narrator, Rorschach, who continues being a superhero before and throughout the film.

As the plot progresses, many characters get involved in (rather intimate) relationships, which occasionally slowed down the characters' believability for me. That's not to say the characterization wasn't present, just struck me as something that people wouldn't normally do. It made me personally have trouble relating to the characters, which kept me separate from a sense of immersion.

When the action and special effects must take the stage, we see the budget of The Watchmen come to the fore. The Watchmen is a comic-book movie, and shows its roots constantly with lots of explosions, flashes of fire, incredibly violent and gory action, and people being thrown through buildings. This is all very fantastical, and was probably one of the strongest parts of the movie.

The camera direction was solid, and never got too close to the action, nor did it pick bad angles for the fight scenes. All of the hits were solid and felt like they hurt. Each of the characters were incredibly strong, very powerful, and extremely confident. It meant that any fight against non-supers was an ultimate let-down. The fights were all decided long before the first punch was thrown. Though they were interesting to watch, and the fighters seemed suitably exhausted after any given skirmish.

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Sadly, it feels like there's just too much. I've been told that if you've read the comic, you can enjoy it more than if you didn't. Everything is building for all of the characters, plot, and morals through the length of the movie that slams down hard in the last thirty minutes. All of the characters have their own take on what happens, and their distinct personalities shine through very well. The characters' personalities weaved intricately well with the plot and followed through. The problem is it's all so much that's built for so long, only to be resolved too fast. It's all a mess. A mess with a lot of planning and preamble, but still ended in a clutter. Not beyond saving, but certainly brought down what could've been a very strongly concluded story.

As well as that, this was really different from the previous comic-book movies because it didn't even venture to mask what it was. Watchmen is an unapologetic and uncompromising comic book movie, and really shifts the perspective from the usual treatment audiences are familiar with from movies like Spiderman or Iron Man. In that way, this movie is a lot like Sin City and and 300 because it keeps to the highly comic book atmosphere.

The problem is this comic is a bit less fantastical than Sin City or 300. While we can easily suspend disbelief for King Leonidas or the film-noir penned by Frank Miller, it gets harder when we get an hour's worth of a familiar world. Superheroes are transplanted into our world, and the reality we know and understand isn't compromised very much. An hour later, we're introduced to men who can manipulate matter at the subatomic level, teleport, and start wearing superhero masks and capes. This conflicted with the setting I had established in the first hour, and put me off-balance when it changed later on.

The shift wasn't so jarring as it was that it would shift nearly constantly, moving me from comic book to real world suddenly, without apology or warning. Maybe I went in with the wrong expectations, but I came out feeling like I wasn't the target audience for this film. The five or six friends I saw the movie with had the same feeling.

Ultimately, I don't know how to recommend Watchmen. Gratuitous cheese, self-fulfilling morals, sudden inclusion of nudity, and the entire Watchmen experience just felt too bogged down and without enough of what makes it strong. It's also overwhelmingly fan-servicing for the comic book fans, but doesn't bridge the gap like other blockbuster comic book movies have in the recent past.

Watchmen is a movie I really wanted to like. It does a lot well, especially where writing and action scenes are concerned. The characters have been around for many years, and their personalities and writing are as strong now as they were then. This translated beautifully on-screen. There was just too much for people who weren't ready for the film to absorb in such a short time. They did very well for the length of the movie and amount of time spent, but they could've done better simply by working with less material at a time.

If you took out some of the elements, you would have a stronger movie. With everything there, this movie is messy. A very high budget film with good ideas and strong potential that was incredibly celebrated and relatively failed to deliver in those regards. It might be worth the money, but it is by no means a must-see in theaters for a majority of viewers.

Footnote: This movie contains full-frontal nudity for the male superhero Mr. Manhattan, and also comes with a relatively thorough sex-scene (for an R-rated film) between characters later in this movie. If you're planning on going with family or friends who are sensitive to this type of thing, fair warning for content that is not appropriate for some audiences.

Bottom Line: This movie pushes a lot into the forefront and introduces the viewer to so much at once and gives them so little breathing room that it can't be enjoyed fully without multiple viewings or a history with the graphic novel.

Recommendation: If you can afford it, go see it. If you're on the fence about it then you can wait for a rental.

Good review..

2 hours and 40 mins is a long movie, dont think i will bother see it at the cinema.. Wait for it to come out on DVD so i dont have to sit on those shitty chairs, and can put on pause for pee breaks..

It is interesting to hear the views of someone who hadn't read the book, as I had and I can tell you it does change your perspective. I really enjoyed it immensely and will be recommending it to everyone I know, (over the age of eighteen, seriously) and while knowing how much stuff will likely be thrown at me for this and without giving away anything, the end is tweaked, and I liked it better. Perhaps knowing everything going in is what made it not feel like a mess, as you put it, but I felt it flowed really well and remained engaged the whole time. Perhaps a second viewing would improve your opinion of the film. Also, about length, I wouldn't have sacrificed a minute.

Excellent review New. As Alan Moore said, Watchmen is meant to be a comic-book, not a movie.

The thing is, the movie follows the structure of the book pretty well. Entire chapters are devoted to the characterisation of one character, so it's actually an equal ratio that sees all of the character's motives explored for a great dealof the movie. It's something in the book, but I do agree on your point on the pacing though.

The ending feels incredibly rushed, and the impotence of the moment is somewhat lost whereas when you're reading the book you can pause and contemplate the meaning in a film format it kind of forces itself on you.

A couple of things though, There's technically only one sex scene. Dr Manhattan's penis...well it's just a penis, seriously, get over it. He's a being more concerned with the sub-atomic structure of mountains than human morals which dictate that he should wear pants. Although I do find it odd they made his penis bigger for the film. Perhaps Crudup had that written into his contract for some reason.

As for your thoughts regarding the whole thing looking like a comic book film, well, that's kind of the point. It's a deconstruction of the superhero myth as perpetuated by comic books. Several people I spoke to who hadn't read thebook got that straight off the bat (but they were film majors)but I can see how he juxtaposition of real themes with comic aesthetic may be jarring.

As I've said, I don't agree with your points but as always the review was well written and made its points well. I would've liked to see some more discusion about the acting though.

Corpse XxX:
Good review..

2 hours and 40 mins is a long movie, dont think i will bother see it at the cinema.. Wait for it to come out on DVD so i dont have to sit on those shitty chairs, and can put on pause for pee breaks..

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was 3 hours 30 minutes. Was worth... almost every minute, except for the part where they were going up and down the volcano.

I'm going to see the movie ASAP. I know I could go today, but it's at 23.30... Pretty late for a 15+ movie.

The sad thing is, the graphic novel wasn't full of explosions or incredible amounts of violence, and the sex was merely referenced to.
Dr. Manhattan did go around in the nude though.

I haven't heard good things about this movie, and this review sadly reinforces my idea that it won't be good. I'll still go see it though.

I like your formatting, it makes things extremely pleasant to read. =)

Very interesting review. I haven't read the book either, although it's on my list of things to do. I've found that a lot of films are tending towards longer viewing times these days, and yet, there are very few films that I'd really enjoy for a full two-and-a-half hours plus - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is probably the most prominent one.

Just a couple of notes I want to make:

NewClassic:
This pacing that is so far beyond normalcy for most movies that jolts the viewer.

Channelling Warren G. Harding, are we? (Yes, I know it's a legitimate word in American English, but the associations with Harding are just too notable to miss.)

NewClassic:
Everyone panics while the main characters band together to try to come to terms with the fact that their superhero cool-kids-club. Short of our narrator, Rorschach, who continues being a superhero throughout the film.

This sentence needs to be cleaned up, along with the next one. The first one has no conclusion; the second one is a sentence fragment, I believe.

Also:

Corpse XxX:
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was 3 hours 30 minutes. Was worth... almost every minute, except for the part where they were going up and down the volcano.

I disagree very strongly, as I found the Lord of the Rings films to be highly over-rated. There was no bloody way that it deserved eleven Oscars, and I feel that it's a key example for my idea that movies are trying to stretch themselves out too much. After that film, it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't as interested in big-budget films any more.

Caimekaze:
The sad thing is, the graphic novel wasn't full of explosions or incredible amounts of violence, and the sex was merely referenced to.
Dr. Manhattan did go around in the nude though.

I haven't heard good things about this movie, and this review sadly reinforces my idea that it won't be good. I'll still go see it though.

I like your formatting, it makes things extremely pleasant to read. =)

Um, except you know:

Then again, you're right in that none of those actually involved visible penetration...so I guess on the one hand I can agree. On the other hand, how can sex in film, or anywhere else for that matter be treated maturely if everyone's first reaction is ewww sex?

As for violence, you do remember when:

I think the problem here is that people's standards of what is considered violent has degraded somewhat. Vanilla murder just won't do it any more...and while I don't mind a creative death, seems like more and more it must be in the most gruesome way possible or it doesn't hold muster, a shame really.

This is the scathing review I would've written had I ended up hating it like I anticipated.

I suppose whether or not you enjoy the Watchmen lies in how much you're able to appreciate the sheer outlandishness and spectacle. The content certainly crosses more than few lines, but those are the lines I love to see being crossed. It wasn't exactly challenging, but it is was definitely uncompromising, and I really admire that fact enough to disregard most of the minor flaws.

GothmogII:
*snip*

I know that there are quite a few extreme acts of violence (and by no gratuitous amounts of sex, I meant that they were at least done so that you understood what was happening, without needing to show you lots of sweaty stuff.) But there was a gratuitous amount of it. From what I've gathered in this review, those aspects can dominate part of the film... But I'll need to see it first.

I can just hear the people saying "that movie will be awesome!" 5 months ago crying right now...

In concerns to the penis part, ever read the Watchmen? It's not like they try to hide it to extremes or anything, it's part of Doctor Manhattan's characterization that he has began to ignore humanity and thus has began to ignore social norms like clothes. In fact, I like the movie better because it does this, rather then just teehee about it like a teenage girl and try to hide it. It's a penis, David's got one too, and that's called art.

Your comments that the character's are 'too stereotypical' and it 'looks like a comic book movie' are both true. Because that's what they should do. The characters are directly stolen from other works and made darker (Doctor Manhattan is Superman/Captain Atom, the Comedian can be seen as a more realistic Captain America, etc.), so of course they'll come off as familiar. And if I'm going to see a Watchmen film, I want to see it like a comic book movie, that's part of the appeal. Also the length, the comic is massive, you can club gophers to death with it, so I would want them to go for a longer film to get everything in.

I guess I'm trying to hijack this thread and say that Watchmen is simply amazing, I just got back from watching it and it was truly well-done, even if I disliked the ending as opposed to the comic's. It's a fan movie, and that's what it should be. A must-see for anyone who's read the graphic novel, and bring your friends so you can force'em to read it later.

From what I can tell, it's only good if you've read the comic. And even then it probably sucks because everyone knows what happens in the comic.

I didn't read it, so I guess I'm stuck with 02:40:00 of suckage. Which mostly sucks because I already paid for my ticket.

Oh well. I guess I'll know for myself once I see it. It takes a lot to make me dislike a movie.

NoMoreSanity:
Excellent review New. As Alan Moore said, Watchmen is meant to be a comic-book, not a movie.

yeah but Alan Moore lacks any real vision. he says how they things can take on new forms of media and such and yet has no idea how his comics could be moved onto the screen

as for the movie, it was one of the best adaptations of a comic book to film, they had tons of shots that were picked right out of the comic itself, and at least one part they took out were some were filmed and being put back in on dvd

I saw Watchmen last night, and I liked it. I didn't love it, but I think it was about as good of an adaption as what could be attempted with the material. Thing that bugs me is many of the scathingly negative reivews seem to have totally missed the point. And while being familiar with the source material is preferable, you could still follow it even if you weren't. Still an awful lot of people seem to miss the point.

Reillk:
I saw Watchmen last night, and I liked it. I didn't love it, but I think it was about as good of an adaption as what could be attempted with the material. Thing that bugs me is many of the scathingly negative reivews seem to have totally missed the point. And while being familiar with the source material is preferable, you could still follow it even if you weren't. Still an awful lot of people seem to miss the point.

Yeah, this pretty much.

I don't really know what to say. It seems to me that you completely missed the ball on this one. Now of course not everyone can understand everything, people miss the ball all the time but I find it incredibly annoying that you write a review which can be summed up as "I don't get it". Everything in this review screams to me, "I don't understand this movie at all". However it doesn't seem to be the movies fault, more your lack of any real understanding. An example of this:

As well as that, this is a little too much comic book.

By God man, that is the point of the movie. Do you say that Star wars is a little too Sci-fi or that the Naked Gun is a little too funny? I would think not as those are bullshit complaints.

NewClassic:

As well as that, this is a little too much comic book.

Is this supposed to be a joke, or what? Why did you go to see a movie based off of a comic book? That sort of makes the review a bit moot.

Why is a comic book movie being criticized for being too much like a comic book?

I think people unfamiliar with the material are going to have this reaction. Maybe not even just the material, but comics in general. Anyone who saw the first trailer and asked "What the hell did I just watch?" is going to be coming out of this movie with the exact same sentiments. Every comic book movie that's come out before now has been about a widely recognized, iconic character (besides Blade). All of them were reformatted to be audience-friendly.

I never heard of Watchmen before last summer, and I have a pretty open mind, so I figured it would be interesting to watch this unbiased by holding off on reading the novel. And I was pumped as hell to like this, but even I came out with mixed views.

So what it comes down to is: Yeah, it's too much like the comic book to work as a stand-alone movie. This was a labor of love for the fans, and on that note, Snyder is beyond commendable. But for outsiders, it's just a weird movie.

I really liked it.

1: Would you ever eat sand?
2: No.
1: What if you were on a desert island and you were starving, would you eat sand then?
2: No, sand has no nutritional value.
1: What if it did have nutritional value, and you were starving on a desert island, would you eat it?
2: Uhhhh... well, that would have to be in a different universe with different scientific principles or something, but if that were the case I might give it some thought.
1: How about just a little bit of nutritional sand were mixed into a big juicy hamburger, and you were starving on a desert island, would you eat sand then.
2. Okay I would eat the sand in that case.
1: Oh, so you would eat sand?

I have mixed feelings about Watchmen, having just seen it a couple hours ago. It definitely had its strengths; mainly in the visuals, and also in some of the performances. But the morally ambiguous world quickly degenerates into a morally stupid one as we are drawn into this hypothetical desert island situation where the philosophical underpinnings became pointless since they are so far removed from anything halfway sensible. I pretty much just detached and mostly rolled up my eyeballs from half way through.

I am not entertained by porn flicks. Other people may be and that's fine, but I am not, and for that reason I didn't like several scenes from the movie. Never read the comic but I understand the transposition to a movie is good.

I just saw it.

Great movie. Very smart, very theological and philosophical, yet very badass.

BUT HOLY CRAP IS IT LONG.

I honestly blanked-out the last like 20 minutes of the movie because I kept trying to hold in my bladder by the end. And everything gets tied-up independently, so every like 5 minutes I kept thinking "oh good it's over, time for a pee". Nope. 5 minutes later, "oh good it's over, time for a pee". Nope. 5 minutes later...

There was NO porn in it whatsoever.. there was one overt sex scene, and it wasn't exactly gratuitous. I never realised how many people are prudes.. there may be some inferred sex in a few scenes, but nothing you wouldn't see in any movie.

A scene with a penis in it does not count as a sex scene, half the world has one.. get over it

I just saw it last night, and I suppose the fact that I have read the comic made it easier for me to understand and enjoy. I actually thought that it was at once a very good movie and a good adaptation. The thing is that throughout you're kind of reminded that it was directed by the same guy who did 300. Visually amazing, beautiful and generally astonishing, I can see why you would call it gratuitous. All the same, it did feel a bit flat towards the end as the bad guy was revealed in a completely un-engaging way.

On the other hand, the music was very nice, I'll probably buy the soundtrack

The review came off sounding like an annoying old man, complaining that "kids these days are too sexualised". You seem offended by nudity.

Section snipped due to a complete review re-write.

NewClassic:

Fine me for having this opinion. I saw Spiderman and Iron Man as comic book heroes bridged with a world I was more familiar with. Then I saw this expecting the same treatment. Maybe it's my fault, but it makes my complaints no less valid.

Its a Zach Snyder film. You already had evidence of his previous comic book adaptations to go by. Watch 300 and you will know how stylized his adaptations are. Frankly, its nice to have a film made with the fans in mind, not just some sickening afterthought.

For what its worth I agree with you about the penis scenes. The penis wasn't even shown in the comic unless the panel required a full body shot. This is where Snyder went overboard, but I won't begrudge him for that though.

As for the sex scene with Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, I will again refer you to 300 to the sex scene with Leonidas and the Queen. If I didn't know any better, I would have said that Snyder had the actors study the 300 footage as reference for their own sex scene. I'm not really trying to defend it, I'm just trying to give you context. I do have a question though. How will sex in movies ever be treated maturely, if everyone's first reaction is eww icky?

NewClassic:
Roughly 800 words, and so many of you seem so focused on a few of them. Let me reply to everything in turn, but please stop berating myself and my review for my opinions.

Goodness, NewClassic. This is the User Reviews section of the Escapist- people are making comments on your work, just like every other review in this section. Asking them to stop is akin to asking honey bees to kindly stop stealing the nectar out of flowers (those fiends!).

Yes, some are focusing on small segments, but it is most likely because those small segments struck them the most out of the review.

NewClassic:
Fine me for having this opinion. I saw Spiderman and Iron Man as comic book heroes bridged with a world I was more familiar with. Then I saw this expecting the same treatment. Maybe it's my fault, but it makes my complaints no less valid.

You did expect the wrong things from this movie, the very wrong things. And no, that doesn't mean you should like the movie, it being what you didn't expect does not make it good. However, just like many other reviews on popular video game, 'it not living to the hype' or 'I expected it to be different' is not a legitimate claim.

The complaint that it is a mess is another one that I didn't like, mainly because you didn't really go into that much detail. You said it was a mess, you said why it being it a mess was a problem but you didn't say how or why it was a mess. Prove you point instead of us expecting to believe every word you say.

The sex scene complaint is one I agree with, although only because the one sex scene was incredible lame. The song that plays over it, while fitting in some ways, reminded me of Shrek. You might remember the scene when Shrek is all gloomy because Fiona left him, well it's that song (Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen). During the sex scene I couldn't help but keep remembering Shrek and thinking to myself 'This is lame'. I suppose that the acting was also to blame and the flamethrower (although actually part of the book) didn't help either. I can understand why the song was chosen and it did make sense to me when I thought about it, but it ruined it for me at the time. That the movie had a sex scene (and two 'nearly sex scene') does not seem like a legitimate problem to bring up in a review, especially when you don't explain why.

The blue penis however is not a big deal. Seriously, what sort of complaint is that? Maybe if your target audience is Homophobe Weekly that would make sense, but this is the Escapist, I'm pretty sure that for most of us the presence of a blue dick will not scare us off. I got the impression that you thought the large amount of penis was a problem with the movie but you could have been giving out a warning which would make sense, still, why bother doing that when you say the movie isn't good?

I would say that the reason why so many people call you out on this claim is because you think we, the readers, are going to be worried about a blue penis. Really now, why would that stop us from watching the movie? There was an excessive amount of penis (this post is really stupid), thats true, but I don't think that its something worth brining up.

This review, for me, was very weak. A lot of your arguments where shallow and didn't actually lower the quality of the movie, the few that are legitimate claims don't have any evidence to back them up.

I just watched it a little while ago, and I had a really good time (even though I watched it alone *sob*). I was looking forward to writing a review from the perspective of someone who read the novel (and in effect, looking forward to the review of someone who haven't read the it). I actually lost count how many times the movie sent shivers down my spine. And as I was sitting there, I was wondering how the thing got past the ratings board as an 'R-13', go figure.

The thing with this movie is that they more than likely used the novel as the story board, as you can easily tell in which panels in the novel some scenes were taken from

. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because it served this movie well. I really liked the extra touch that went in with Rorschach's "I need to go to the bathroom" scene.

I also agree with Alan Moore when he said that the story was meant to be in comic book form. Attempting to wrap everything that happened in the novel into a movie is going to be a massive (and I'm willing to bet nearly impossible) undertaking. There ARE a lot going on in the background (there are some parts left out, most notably, The Black Freighter comic-within-a-comic, the relationship between the newspaper guy and the guy who reads said comic and some of the flavor that went into every end of the chapter which explained a part of the Watchmen world), not to mention the fact that most of the more intense scenes would fall flat if they were not done properly

.

And for everything in the novel that was retained in the movie, the movie did well. Props also go to the casting director. Everyone fit into the character they were given.

What I'm probably trying to say is that it's a great adaptation, especially if you read the comic. While I was exiting the theater I heard some people exclaiming that they weren't able to follow some of it.

Guys, you're all forgetting the main point of this movie...

Malin Akerman in latex *drools*

wordsmith:
Guys, you're all forgetting the main point of this movie...

Malin Akerman in latex *drools*

I will never understand how someone can find that stereotype physically appealing.
In short: Bleh.
BLEH I SAY.
Anyway, as I can't comment on the points he makes (I have not seen the movie,) I'll say that, at the least, it was a very easy to read review.
Well formatted, too.

MaxTheReaper:

wordsmith:
Guys, you're all forgetting the main point of this movie...

Malin Akerman in latex *drools*

I will never understand how someone can find that stereotype physically appealing.
In short: Bleh.
BLEH I SAY.
Anyway, as I can't comment on the points he makes (I have not seen the movie,) I'll say that, at the least, it was a very easy to read review.
Well formatted, too.

You decide dude http://lh5.ggpht.com/_GeOtqkH6Zn4/SZHLsrLtVKI/AAAAAAAACwg/US5eUYG61vg/s800/watchmenbookdave3.jpg

The above is a clothed picture, although possibly NSFW.

wordsmith:

MaxTheReaper:

wordsmith:
Guys, you're all forgetting the main point of this movie...

Malin Akerman in latex *drools*

I will never understand how someone can find that stereotype physically appealing.
In short: Bleh.
BLEH I SAY.
Anyway, as I can't comment on the points he makes (I have not seen the movie,) I'll say that, at the least, it was a very easy to read review.
Well formatted, too.

You decide dude http://lh5.ggpht.com/_GeOtqkH6Zn4/SZHLsrLtVKI/AAAAAAAACwg/US5eUYG61vg/s800/watchmenbookdave3.jpg

The above is a clothed picture, although possibly NSFW.

With the darker hair, she is marginally more attractive than the pictures Google turned up (all blonde,) but...eh. Not my type.
/decided
NOW FOR DINNER (it is 7:20 AM)

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