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Review: Watchmen Movie

March 9, 2009

This might be a couple of days late. I saw Watchmen on Friday night around 10 pm. Considering my schedule this isn’t that late but for other perhaps it is. 

I’ll try to keep this sweet and segmented. 

What I liked:

Stylistically the movie was very visually appealing. Some of the scenes were straight of out of the graphic novel and provided nice omages to the book. Snyder has a flair for combat scenes which can be seen in 300 and Watchmen. The various fights that were shown in Watchmen were, I thought, well choreographed and engaging. 

Some people complained that there was too much blue penis on the screen during the movie but these asinine complaints only made me wonder whether or not these same people had read the book. Dr. Manhattan is naked in the book and he should be/is naked in the movie. It represents his continuing loss of his humanity (i.e. shame for being naked) and his growing interest in the rest of the world, the minutia of it, which for him never relates back to his own being. His nudity is neither shocking, nor disgusting despite what some forums might have you believe. 

On the same lines I also heard complaints about a sex scene between Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II that some felt went on for too long. I’m a fan of appropriately done sex scenes in movies and I thought that the one in question was well done. It was romantic in a way and sensual which is a good thing. Fleshing out panels that only filled a couple of pages into a movie is hard to do and Snyder did a commendable job with the sex scene and most of the rest of the movie. 

The ending was different from the book. Some would say that this was a bad thing, I am not one of those people. The ending in the graphic novel is somewhat convoluted and has always felt rushed to me. The movie ending gives Dr. Manhattan more of a reason to leave, fits the themes of the movie better, and makes the story fit a film setting in a better way. It also helps it because the film cuts out a lot of the side-stories that Moore labored over in the novel and makes for a more compact, concise story that still ended up being nearly 3 hours long. Imagine if those side-stories had been included talk about a mess of a movie. 

The music choices, while jarring at times, were enjoyable. I’ve heard complaints that they took people out of the movie. There’s only one scene where the music choice and length of play struck me as odd and that’s when Rorschach and Nite Owl first arrive at Veidt’s Antarctic palace. It was a little strange there but otherwise I enjoyed it. 

For the most part the acting was good, I really enjoyed Jackie Earl Haley’s Rorschach and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Comedian. Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl II was a good choice as well. They really did some good casting in finding people that looked enough like the various characters from Watchmen. The only person who didn’t look like his comic version was Danny Woodburn as Big Figure (the criminal leader that Rorschach kills in the prison escape). 

A couple of my friends thought that at nearly 3 hours the movie is too long but I enjoyed it and never found myself peeking at my cell phone. The only real problems I had were heat exhaustion, it felt like the theater had turned its heaters on high, and some tools who left halfway through talking loudly. 

What I didn’t like:

I went with friends who had never read the graphic novel (and probably won’t) who said that they knew Veidt was the bad guy well before it was revealed and I really blame that on color choice and the weird way that Matthew Goode played Veidt. 

Most of the scenes that one sees with Veidt show him in very dark clothing. His office building/main office is also dark, foreboding and made completely out of concrete. There’s just this very dark aura around his character through out the film, so at the big reveal towards the end it isn’t surprising or interesting really because most of my friends were already expecting it. 

This is different from the comic in that the comic featured Veidt in very bright purple and gold (royalty colors) and his office was still stone but Gibbons drew it in a very bright, non-threatening way. The graphic novel reveal was surprising because of how good-natured and non-threatening Veidt is portrayed. The movie really failed viewers in that regard.

Malin Akerman and Carla Gugino (Laurie and Sally Jupiter respectively) did to Watchmen what Maggie Gyllenhaal did to Dark Knight, nearly ruined it. Malin as Laurie pulled it off for most of the movie but every once in awhile she would say a line in an odd way or make a weird face that totally killed it for me. There’s a moment when she’s on Mars with Dr. Manhattan trying to bitch him out but she takes way to many pauses during this one line (I forget the exact words) it just socked me in the face at how terrible her delivery was, completely awful.

Carla Gugino as Sally was good when she played the younger version of Sally Jupiter, those lines were okay. Where she goes Maggie on us is any of the scenes where she played the older version. For whatever reason she decided to let her acting go over the top in those scenes and really just kills the character. She actually annoyed me in those scenes. 

The other thing isn’t her fault but after seeing the amazing make-up in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button the bullshit that was her “old Sally” look was ridiculous. It’s as if the make-up artist was about to get fired and just didn’t care. Lazy work, in my opinion. 

Some loose observations:

– My favorite scene was when Rorschach is telling the psychiatrist about the murdered little girl and he kills the two dogs and the murder/kidnapper. That scene is so graphic that you could hear the audience starring at the screen in horror. It was awesome.

– Those tools who left half-way through pissed me off so much. Then there was the girl who during the scene I just described said, “I’m confused, what’s he doing? I think we need to leave the movie.” Her boyfriend’s response, “Yeah, I guess, let me out my shoes back on.” 

– Nixon’s nose was very strange to look at.

– The fight scenes and any scene with body mutilation (not between heroes) were violent. Man, those were some awesome and gross scenes. Like when Nite Owl splits the top-knot’s arm with one punch and his bone pops out, ouch. 

– I’ll give Malin this much, her fight scenes were good but her acting was not.

– Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan was enjoyable. Some complained about his soft voice in the awesome body of Dr. Manhattan but I thought it seemed appropriate. 

– I know that Snyder cut out a lot of the side-stories but not explaining Bubastis will hurt people who’ve never read the comic. I mean if a 10 second aside about Veidt’s genetic engineering program or something could have cleared that up.

My Recommendation: I think people should see it. I enjoyed the film. Regardless of which order you do it in, you should read the graphic novel at least once. 


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