Watching WATCHMEN

Klein’s journal. March 7, 2009. Major film of greatest graphic story ever created just opened. Based on work of two good friends. One completely opposed. One supportive, enthusiastic. No gray area. Troubling. Needed to judge for self.

Drove to multiplex in usual disguise. Obeyed traffic laws. Arrived at theater without incident. Inside, needed nourishment. Cost of “small” popcorn and drink more than film ticket. Who are they fooling? Size of “small” drink threatens bladder. Knew task was dangerous.

In theater, usual drek previews, one with some promise. Film begins. Not exactly as book, but capturing correct mood. Story unfolds. Feels right. Actors well chosen, convincing. All unknown to me. (Admit, don’t get out much.) Past credits, many scenes and dialogue right from book. Subplots missing, minor characters only walk-ons. Compromise. But, time of film must be considered. Actually surprised at how much of book on screen. Bladder convinced film long enough.

Effects seamless, convincing. Sets and costumes also. Film not afraid to fill in back story of main characters through flashbacks, as in book. Good decision. Action scenes a bit overdone, but could have been much worse. Best performances by actors playing Comedian and Rorschach, my opinion. Others fine, though. Much dialogue from original. Only one jarring note: “Follow the money.” From wrong film.

In final act, something not right. Plan of villain changed. Intent same, but missing key element. Not surprised. Most difficult for general audience. Still, compromise. Otherwise, climax and ending true to original. Satisfying. Leave theater still troubled. Enjoyed self. Could have been better with truer ending. Could have been MUCH worse. LOEG film, for example.

Drove home. Obeyed traffic laws. At home, checked shelf. Original book still there. Unchanged. Reports of others just like it flying off shelves. Selling like ice in the desert. Can only be good thing.

One creator will probably never see film. Keep story in own head as written. No compromise. Respect that. Other creator sees vision recreated faithfully. Must make him proud. Respect that, too. Both will benefit from increased audience for original work. Each in own way. Film, overall, a success. Director’s cut could be even better. Will see.

Life without compromise difficult. Perhaps impossible. Film without compromise certainly so. This one close enough. Recommended.

17 thoughts on “Watching WATCHMEN

  1. Chris Bissette

    I also fall into the “Could have been better with truer ending. Could have been MUCH worse” camp. A Director’s Cut on DVD will definitely be something to wait for, even if it’s just for the Black Freighter.

    I have a feeling the film may fall victim to its hype. The purists are going to slate it because of the necessary compromises Snyder had to make, and people who saw the trailer are going to be disappointed because it’s not your typical comicbook adaptation. Shame.

  2. JM Campbell

    Review feels odd, disjointed. like canine introspection. First person while lacking personal pronouns. but movie sounds decent enough. can’t wait for Director’s cut.

  3. ]@/\/\!3

    Best. Rorschach. Impression. Ever.
    Heheh…

    I saw the film last night, and I’d go see it again.
    I have friends who have and have not read the
    comics/graphic novel, and I think they’ll all enjoy
    the movie.

    Anyone who thinks they can faithfully convert
    a story with over 300 pages into a film of comparable
    quality is high.
    Has anyone ever written any sort of book which
    has been filmed nearly scene for scene, without
    ANY sort of compromise…?
    I can’t recall any.

    I personally think the ending worked, without
    any implication of a (unnecessary) sequel.

    *SPOILER ALERT*
    The thing that bugged me about the ending
    was how Dan/Nite Owl’s home/lair and the
    New Frontiersman offices survived the Dr. M
    “bomb”.
    Weren’t they in New York City, too..?

    Maybe I’m just being too nitpicky.
    All in all, I still enjoyed the movie, and I’ll
    definitely be adding it to my collection when
    it arrives on dvd.

  4. Luis K

    I love, love this review, Rorschach-voice and all. Especially the last three paragraphs. :) Caught a premiere last week and feel much the same.

  5. Brandon

    GREAT review! That’s easily the best review of the film I’ve seen. I agree completely with your thoughts on the film. Overall, I think this is a decent film on its own, but a fantastic film for those who already know the book. For example, the scene with the newspaper vendor and the boy is much stronger for those who have seen their lives through the comic. Even though a lot of minor details had to be lost, there’s a lot of depth for those that know the full story. Again, great review!

  6. Sam

    I’ve read a lot of reviews for Watchmen, and this one is certainly the most entertaining (and one I was really looking forward too).

    On my behalf, I pretty much keep thinking what I thought before watching the film. It will never be as good and striking as the original. I agree that it could have been MUCH worse. But the ending has suffered a lot, in my opinion.

  7. Michael L Peters

    Hurrm. Disagree on a lot, but agree on some. Agree actor playing comedian was great. Too much gore for gore’s sake. Too much spelled out for idiots in audience. Overall, a superficial take on book full of symbolism and resonance. Film, a hollow mess, but interesting hollow mess. Could have been great — skeleton of story works in film better than expected, but some bad choices mar effectiveness.

    Could have been worse.

    Extended version with Black Freighter sub-plot may restore some humanity missing from theatrical version.

    Happy for Dave Gibbons. Happy more people are buying and reading book. Happy to type comment on great letterer Todd Klein’s Blog. Feel silly writing like Rorschach, but fun, also.

  8. Susanne

    Great review! I agree on everything, especially the ending. I still loved the film. Although there’s never enough Rorschach.

  9. Raul Duran

    I have been monitoring many reviews around the web regarding this film being the case that I really liked it and I am a very big fan of Mr. Moore and Mr. Gibbons work.

    From the heart I really tell you Mr. Klein, that this is for me the best review of the film I have read so far. I loved the Rorschach “voice” and the sincerity in it and coming from someone as recognized as you in the medium it means a lot.

    Thank you for sharing with us. Take care.

  10. Marcel

    WOW, great review Todd!!!

    AS everyone here, I’m looking forward to the Director’s Cut.

    Cheers!

  11. Pingback: What’s Wrong With Watchmen - Movie Review | The Dork Report

  12. coffee

    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

  13. Steven Ernest

    I’m glad that someone so creative, and connected to Alan Moore, can recommend the movie. I thought it was a wonderful adaptation. Of course there are things to nitpit about; the changed/tweaked element at the end works great, but is a bit rushed via condensing. And many new readers are going to find the original work — which is now also available at my local Ralphs supermarket. I think that’s postmodern-something.

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