I’ve decided that I probably won’t post most book/movie reviews here from now on, unless they were especially bad. Or good. But the latter never happens. If I’m just going to write “shitty romantic comedy, 5/10,” I might as well post it to twitter.
But I guess I have a little more to say about Watchmen. When the first trailers for Watchmen started coming out, I hadn’t heard of it, book, movie, or anything else. I was over at a friend’s house playing Catan, I think, or maybe Apples to Apples, and he was like “Oh my god dudes, watch this!” I’m pretty sure that’s not how he said it, but it’s close enough to the truth.
And, my reaction was “oh, they stole the Smashing Pumkins track from Batman Returns.”
My friend persisted, and said that if I haven’t read Watchmen, I need to do. Now. Go. Three or for other people in the room echoed the same sentiment. So I did.
After reading the book, I watched the trailers. In HD. Several times. And each time I got chills. So. Awesome. So. Excited. For months I waited.
And then, the movie came out, and it opened to mediocre reviews, at best, for the most part. And there would be no giant squid. Zack Snyder actually fucked with the ending of the greatest graphic novel ever. Really? Are you kidding?
I postponed my trips to the theater. I was afraid of being disappointed, and didn’t want to ruin my perfect experience with the book with a lackluster version on film. I procrastinated further, even though my friends insisted that if I liked the book, I’d like the movie anyway. I like my friends, but we often have slightly different standards of what makes a good film, which is to say I don’t really trust most of them.
And then the film was out of theaters. I forgot about it, and wasn’t at risk for being disappointed anymore.
And then Amazon goes and mentions I can preorder the director’s cut of thing for some absurdly low price, and into my cart it goes. It showed up last week, and I watched it on Saturday.
And so it begins. With a drawn-out fight scene culminating in the Comedian’s death. Very clear from this point that Snyder just doesn’t care at all about the pacing or structure of the graphic novel, and is just catering to the neophytes. He’s ignoring the cognoscenti, and the movie was made for the cognoscenti. Or at least it should be. Screw profitability.
So, we have an overly long fight scene. Here’s how I would have preserved the spirit of that scene, maintained the energy of the directing, and not completely fucked up the opening: The Comedian says “I suppose it was only a matter of time” and then we cut to him shattering the window as he is thrown out. 5 seconds. Maybe 10 with a dramatic pause.
And then we focus on the smiley button. Not just a little, but to the point of obsession. The book does this a bit, but Zack just goes overboard.
And then the title sequence, which only makes sense if you’ve read the graphic novel, and is about seventeen minutes too long. Why do people even bother with title sequences? But this one sucked. Hardcore.
So, that set the tone, and then I settled in for another three hours of film, knowing that the ending was coming, without giant squid. And yes, lots of Dr. Manhattan’s cock. Whatever.
The rest of the film was, more or less, fine. It wasn’t, in general, a radical departure from the graphic novel, beyond the obvious omission of the framed comic book. In general terms, I wish things had been overly stylized like in Sin City and 300, such that the style of the film more accurately matched the style of the graphic novel, but whatever.
So, we got to the changed ending. It really didn’t bother me, it was a non-event. The change worked. It’s better than the book. Honestly, it’s an improvement. I don’t know how he managed to not fuck it up, but I prefer Snyder’s ending to the giant squid ending. Bravo!
The improved ending couldn’t really save the film, though. I realized at the end that I was sort of happy it was over, because it felt like I’d just been bored for three hours. Somehow the film felt a caricature of the book, and didn’t have the excitement, engagement, or energy. It might just be a matter of needing some cutting, and I was, to be fair, watching the 186-minute director’s cut. It felt like some sort of muted version of the book, it just didn’t grip me the way it should have.
Worth watching for the fans, but far from perfect. 7/10.