love and bandwidth

March 14, 2009, 8:23 am
Filed under: movies, reviews



I enjoyed Watchmen, for the most part, though I was starting to squirm by the beginning of hour three [I think it was 162 minutes total]. I do hasten to offer any kind of review for this film just for the fear of getting flamed by fanboys, on any slight inaccuracies I might make, which flag book/film comparisons. So, I will make this very short and very general. [NB. somewhere else I have already been put in my place, well corrected at least for pointing out the strange / corny use of Hendrix’s, ‘All Along the Watchtower’]. Anyway, if it is mentioned in the book [chapter 10 epigraph apparently], fine, but it didn’t work / translate well for me in the film. So there. 



Visually the movie was absolutely stunning, beautiful, compelling, gritty, odd. The intro montage sequence  for my leaning was a fantastic highlight [designed by YU + CO  who also did the 300 intro by Zach Synder too]. I like the tone of the film too which was quite camp [as pointed out by a number of people], dark but highly farcical at the same time, which all feels apt. The character reflect generally there true essence from the book. Of course some characters are more likable than others –  Rorschach who is funny and vicious [I was surprised to see Jackie Earle Haley in this role, who played the pedifile from the film Little Children; well casted actually] and The Comedian, what a prick, played by Jeffery Dean Morgan [who is a dead ringer for Robert Downey  Jr.]. Way too much full frontal blue penis by Dr Manhattan for my liking though. Not a good nip to penis ratio. More Silk Spectre II nip I say in the directors cut.  

The fight scenes are very well choreographed and really brutal. The play with speed during these really lifts the drama and wow slash gasp factor. Lots of nice visual details also positioned throughout the film. These ‘of the time ‘ moment  [set in 1985] add an extra layer and interest which are fully appreciated through further viewings. The no-lag floppy discs were a nice touch. So many other reference to name … Apple Mac 1985 ad, Nixon, Kennedy, the Warhol painting, Twin Towers …

Narrative-wise, great scenes but together it’s was a little hard to follow, disjointed and a bit of a messy ramble. This I guess is a symptom of following the formula of book so literally [I haven’t read the book in a number of years but it did seem pretty damn close, without  pointing to any details]. Ok, I wasn’t exactly the most lucid at the time [not the film to see when you are over tired] though I think this points to where the structure of a print-based graphic narratives struggle to translate / work for a different medium. Inherently the book and the film pull on and requires different cognitive processes, with differing levels of viewer sophistication, tactility, engagement and accessibility. Where you can toggle freely between past and present in a book, may seem laborious in movie form. A case of trying to ram a square peg [the book]  through a round hole [the film screen] and having to distort it to make it fit .

The public seem pretty divided on this one, and I will be too but I definitely liked it more than I didn’t. I need to watch it again, in a comfy chair.    

trailer | official site


3 Comments so far
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Could have been done in 2 hours. Had a comfy chair but still restless in the third hour. Not a bad film though – I haven’t read the novel (obviously. I did wonder why Mr Manhattan was nude in some scenes and had black ‘speedos” on in others. The nudity was the talking point for my students 😉

Comment by Cassie

I kept thinking that the guy who played the Comedian was Javier Bardem (I found out later that it’s actually Jeffrey Dean Morgan), but the two actors definitely look alike

Comment by coffee

Has anybody seen the Tales From the Black Freighter anim that’s out on DVD? Sort of an accompaniment to the movie. Kinda sad it wasn’t in the movie as it was so integral to the workings of the book, but then we’d be looking at 720 minutes I guess. Anyway, I ain’t seen it, but would be keen to hear if it’s worth the purchase.

Comment by Stu

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