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.


  1. I am not going to read this because I don't want any spoilers, but I ain't gon lie, last night was the first time I even saw the trailer for this movie. It was dope, I am intrigued. Now I really want to read the comic first though..

  2. Thanks for the good honest review.. Let heads know there aren't any spoilers in it.

  3. I seenz thiz movie last week, my manz got the hookup. Anywayze itz not even close to batman. it waz def made for comic geeks who read the book (which was hot.) And all u homoz really gonna like seein- SPOILER- a big blue dong! Zeezuz don't like blue or any color diks in hiz movies. It waz like they waz trying to force some kinda greater message, the only message i gotz was i waz glad i seen it at my manz crib so i could fast foward to the action scenes and skip all the sizzy scenes.

  4. i remember reading this in undergrad in chi and being extremely blown away with how many things they touched on, beyond the average comic book.

    the whole metaphysical side of dr manhattan's prerogative was what i really retained after all these years since i first read it.

    i remember also letting a close friend (who was subsequently about to head back to iraq against his desire) borrow my OG copy, so one of these days when i need some inspiration i'll know its time to buy a new copy of Watchmen.

    Can't wait to see this flick. Watchmen going from graphic novel to movie i think is do-able. Maus, on the other hand...

  5. Just saw it tonight, was weird how it was trying hard to like get all that shit in there that the book has, then like just every now and then went crazy with the visuals and nothing else. Plus i would have hit that HARD, you know who i mean.

  6. you got me man... gotta cop that graphic novel too nd...

  7. Good shit.... I try not to get sucked in to the hype, but it sounds like this was done right....lookin forward to it

  8. i really loved this movie

  9. Great review CJ.

    True story is that the graphic novel has way too many levels of irony and clarvoyance to project on the limited movie feature screen.

    Watchmen still doesn't inspire me the way The Dark Knight Returns does. It is great literature but it doesn't find my wheelhouse of fiction and fantasy.

    The movie did lumber along in some parts and the action scenes were fucking bananas in other parts. I don't think you need to tell anyone to see the movie. I'm glad you told folks to copp that graphic novel.

    I will do the same for The Dark Knight Returns

  10. Now that I have read the book, I can share my expert opinion on the film... And what kept going through my mind during the film was that is was totally unnecessary. While it didn't do a poor job of bringing the book to the screen, that is its primary problem. it was a basically a shot for shot remake of the book, and we all remember how that turned out with Van Zandt's Psycho.

    One problem is, there really isn't a lot of action in the book. The Watchmen Comic is praised mostly for it's ideas about society; lots of dialogue etc. and not its action sequences, so Snyder had to fill that in. That's fine, but nothing else was really brought to the table, except for the new ending (which I actually did like). Instead all that was achieved was making a mass audience aware of the book (myself included) and the inevitable butt-loads of money that this movie will generate.

    But, really, there is no reason to see the film if you have read the book. And unfortunately, the reverse is probably true too. The movie will appeal most to those who have not/are too lazy to read the graphic novel and who won't mind the lack of action.

    Anyway, Jack, thanks for putting me onto this shit!

  11. Yo Jack, where you at? Haha, I need some more DAILY mathematics.

  12. @dronkmonk,
    "inevitable boat loads of money."
    Nah. Budget at $150 with a $55 million opening spells commercial failure. Very rarely has any movie sustained their opening numbers the 2nd week. This film will not. There are many critics that are cutting this film up.

    CJ, you were right, Synder was in a serious win-win/lose situation. Riding off the popularity and success of 300, the studioes allowed him to stick the script, panel-by-panel because he wanted to make another film that will appease the fan-boys. Alan Moore made this book to show what can be achieved with sequential images, the medium of comics not film.

    There are already a number of people who have not read the graphic novel, leaving the theaters utterly confused. I'm really trying to figure out why they actually went to the theaters to see it in the first place. This story is not an easy to digest plot like Miller's crazy 300. This film is perfect for fanboys and fanboys alone.

    Frank Miller's Dark Knight > Dark Knight starring Bale and Heath Ledger

    I'm sure well past the 2 hour mark Watchmen will have some dry-spells BUT DO NOT TELL ME that Batman: Dark Knight did not have some dry spells because it was also extra long for no reason. And there was nothing 'dark' about Batman to begin with in the film. End rant.

    I'm checking out Watchmen in 2-3 weeks because I know there's crazy gratuitous sex and violence. The Watchmen is definitely a good book but removed from its time period, a younger comic book reader may have an entirely different opinion about the book. We're talking about kids growing up reading manga, playing video games . . . or basically people who don't read for pleasure at all.

    Oh yeah,
    Iron Man* > the Dark Knight

    *Concise and appealed to non-comic book fans easily. This film did not have the huge WB dollars backing it and the crazy hyped push surrounding the death of the late Heath Ledger. Jack Nicholson anyone?

  13. ^ You might be right @ WM the book being removed from its time period. Then again, my 12 years old son loved it and I had someone totally removed from comics read it last year and now they're a comic book fiend (Sandman is his next fix). Also, no question re: FM's TDK > TDK the movie. I understand where u sit re: IM > TDK, but I'm too emotionally vested in old FM to give you that co-sign.

    One thing for sure, new Frank Miller sucks ass and him continuing in drawing, writing and directing is a major PU~ to his classic legendary status.

  14. Good review - personally I preferred the book. The film looks beautiful but there's something not quite right about it. It's like watching Tyra Banks drink out of a toilet...