Friday, March 6, 2009
Watchmen Review: Caps Peeled and Wigs Split
Today wifey, me and the homie Fritz decided to play hookie in order to catch the 10am viewing of Watchmen at the IMAX Lincoln Center screen. We got there at 9:28am and the place was effin packed. I guess there was a whole lotta hookie going on. Not going deep into what the story is about, only because you can get that shit anywhere these days, but Watchmen was originally published by DC Comics as a twelve-issue comic book limited series written by Alan Moore, drawn by Dave Gibbons and colored by John Higgins. The series was published in single issues format during 1986 and 1987. The story was basically a deconstruction of the whole super-hero mythos and very much captured the pre-apocalyptic tension that permeated New York City during the 1980's. When that shit dropped, no one reading it knew where the fuck the book was taking them, but they knew it was a ride the medium of comic books had never taken them on before. Dense with both pop and classic literature references, Watchmen was multi-layered in story, structure and theme. The story was mad philosophical with regard to what being a super-hero really meant and went in deep with topics ranging from war, murder, rape, child abuse, prostitution and euthanasia on a genocidal level. To say Watchmen was, and remains to this day, the best piece of work captured in comic form is an understatement. It's the "Citizen Kane" of graphic novels, bar none. Even in describing what the book is about, what the experience of reading it is all about, I am not doing it any justice. I can only, and once again, strongly suggest to all of you out there who have never read it to please sincerely take the initiative to cop the book and do so. Your life in general will most definitely be enhanced.
As hard as it is for me to explain what the Watchmen reading experience is, it's twice as hard for ANY FILMAKER to truly capture the full experience on film. Watchmen has been deemed "impossible" to make as a film. Zack Snyder of "300" fame does a pretty good fucking job at it though. Visually, the film hits all the notes, from costumes to grand background scenes to choreographed action sequences. This is the joint you most definitely cop a bag of shrooms to drop in order to capture the full visual experience. The IMAX screen adds to Snyder's visual A game. Being an '80's period piece that spans several decades (50's, 60's, 70's), post World War II New York, Viet Nam and even life on Mars never looked better. In addition, the characters as designed in the book are portrayed faithfully, virtually jumping off the pages. Rorshach, The Comedian and Dr. Manhattan (played by Billy Crudup and pimped out in CGI fashion) in particular make for some of the best book to film adaptations ever seen. Snyder also brings some of that slo-mo to quick fast visual magic that came off so well with his prior "300" joint. As a "super-hero" movie, the action is on point and mos def earns it's R rating. My kids were hating on the fact that we didn't bring them and I'm glad that we didn't. In addition to the major sex scene being soft pr0n worthy, the violence portions were well served and I got my fair share of blood splatter, bone breakage and blade cuttage. Wigs definitely got split and that is truly pun intended. The manliest of you will be giving up a wince and squirm here and there. Yes, I dare you.
Story and plot wise? Let me ask, how do you adapt the Bible into an action packed blockbuster for mass commercial consumption? Yeah, I dunno either. As much as Snyder tries to be as faithful as possible to the original, there's mad nuances and layers that are just not possible to capture on screen. At 2 hours and 40 minutes, the film is actually a well streamlined version of the original work but in no way comes close to capturing the full depth of the masterpiece that is the book. As much as I was amped to see more, at times, it was obvious to me that the piece was a bit too heavy in it's length. Philosophically, parts of the movie lumbered in the weight of it's depth, and as much as I loved every bit of it, there were moments where I was kinda bored.
All that said, what do I really think? As a fan of the Watchmen graphic novel, I always hoped that it would be made into a movie, even though deep inside, I wished it would never made into one only because I knew how virtually impossible it would be to fully capture all that is the Watchmen on film. However, if there was ever a film version of Watchmen that I would want to see, this joint is definitely it. The movie definitely earns an A for effort and a B for delivery. Don't get me wrong, I will definitely be seeing this again, next time hopefully in full altered state. I even see Blu-ray addage to my dvd collection. Snyder came to the table facing a lose lose situation and came out with a win-win/lose outcome. This isn't a date movie type of flick, more like the cerebral joint you and your nerdish type set might could build on on a weekend night. I will be seeing scenes of this film in my dreams as I sleep tonight.
I thoroughly endorse Watchmen the movie. There's nothing out there like this and I don't foresee anything like this in the distant future. In addition, I strongly urge that you Watchmen virgins cop that graphic novel and STUDY it like math. Just cause I said so and also because you will be broadening your horizons.
In the end though, The Dark Knight > Watchmen.