Sunday, March 08, 2009

Who Wants to Watch the Watchmen?

By Lisa Pease
March 8, 2009

I was really looking forward to seeing “Watchmen.” While I had not read the graphic novel, I was familiar with Alan Moore's work from his novel “V for Vendetta,” and the Wachowski brothers' magnificent movie based on the novel.

Read on.


Jeff Townsley said...

Wow. What an unbelievable review. As I read your review it was more and more apparent that you missed a LOT. for instance:

" An early picture of the Watchmen shows them all in their thirties, or so it appears. But 40 years later, some of them have aged, while others remain in their thirties. I'm willing to suspend disbelief the moment I walk into a theater. But when you break the basic rules of life, without any explanation as to how or why, sorry, you have already lost me."

Ok, these were two different sets of people. The people in the 1940's were the Minutemen, the younger people in the second photo were the Watchmen of 1985. The only one that was from both photos was Robert Blake (The Comedian) who, in the second photo was in his 50's.

Your comments about nuclear war, the message, the violence etc. - Remember this book was written in 1985, during 1985 and the film takes place in an alternate 1985. If you were alive in 1985 you understand the parallels in the movie to real life. Nuclear Holocaust was 1985's "Terrorism" of modern day.

You are right about this not being a family film, thus the 'R' rating. I was sitting 2 seats next to a woman who had to be in her 80's and I got that same feeling so I'm with you on that one.

Time Magazine named the Watchmen book one of the best graphic novels of all time. So while you may not have enjoyed the movie remember that there are those of us that can't sit through 3 hours of a Beethoven Symphony but we'd be careful to never call Beethoven anything less than a genius and his Symphonies masterpieces.

I love the Matrix movies, DC comics, X-Men etc too, but this movie is a different animal, completely different, almost anti-hero. It wasn't meant to be the next Batman or Ironman. You should really read the book.

: )

Real History Lisa said...


Remember that the novel is not the movie, and that Alan Moore insisted his name not be included in the credits. Your Beethoven analogy is not appropriate.

And of course I was alive in the 1980s, and remember. We were a lot closer to nuclear war in the 1960s, when I was also alive. None of that excuses a poorly written too violently executed screenplay.

Even the Comedian (who was anything but funny in the script) had not aged the necessary forty years - he looked to be in his thirties in the picture, and should have then been in his seventies after. But he only looked maybe late fifties.

I have no doubt, as I said, that the novel was much better than the film. But if you see it through the eyes of someone who does not know the novel, I'm telling you, it sure didn't entertain me. And this from someone who LOVES this genre.

Dave said...

Sometime in the late 80s/early 90s Terry Gilliam was asked to direct a film version of The Watchmen. He said it would need to be a 12 hour mini-series. 1 hour per issue of the comic.

Having seen the film, and speaking as a fan of the comic, I would say that's a fair assessment. On the other hand, I'd say they did as good a job as possible given 2:45 to work with.

Also, there are 2 elements of the movie that I consider enhancements. 1st was the use of just the right music at just the right time. "The Sound of Silence" for Comedian's funeral & "All Along the Watchtower" for Rorschach & Nite Owl in Antarctica worked particularly well. And 2nd were the humourous touches at the beginning, Comedian watching The McLaughlin Group, for example. Or Veidt hainging out with Mick Jagger & David Bowie in the 70s.

Finally, I can understand the frustration (much like the Comedian's when he went to see Moloch) of some who wasn't "in on the joke", so to speak. Much better to have read the comic beforehand. Then you'll be watching it from Veidt's perspective (if you think that would help.)

Anonymous said...

Who wants to see the Watchmen??
Any progressive born i the 60s, any reader of conspiracy theories, any one who reads The Consortioum, Cloak and dagger, Infowars, Counterpunch, Antiwar, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Webster Tarpley or Jim Marrs.
When the Comedian said that he was the American Dream, that epitomized the crusade to global hegemony at any cost, and the Neocon squadrons of Blackwater and others, wreaking havoc on the world to save "the eonomy"
The brutality and language is honest.
East Timor was brutal, Dafur, Guantanamo and now Gaza:
This movie is saying "wake up" in the guise of a comic.
The Comedian was a composit of the real life Frank Sturgis, Felix Rodriguez, Ollie North and Shakley.
Oziymandias was representative of the Bilderbergs, Trilaterl Commision and CFR, with his "benevolent" horrors, and "ends justifying the means" and getting everyone to agree to his madness while his corporation monoplizes the world.
With high references to Masonry and OTO, (Illuminati??)by virtue of the Kemetic motifs is lair

Jeff Townsley said...

Don't believe the hype, this movie is badass!

Anonymous said...

Lisa, honey, read the book first. Or at least the Wikipedia page. As with WICKED, you kinda have to know what happened **after** Dorothy dropped in to get what's being said about what happened **before**...

Ebon said...

First off, read the book. Also, read the book of "V For Vendetta", both are vastly superior to the films. Also, "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" is COMPLETELY different (and vastly better).

Second, The Comedian is not supposed to be funny. In the book, the name is a comment on his nihlist/absurdist view of life.

Third, the character are deliberately unheroic and, in most cases, unsympathetic. The book was a deliberate deconstruction of the superhero genre that asked the question of what it is that makes a character heroic. Is it powers, costume? Is it saving the world? Ozymandias arguably saves the world but was his price worth it? As Moore said, in reference to V, "is this guy right or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think of this?".

Missing from the film are most of the subtexts on philosophy (most of the Watchmen respresent various schools of philosophy) and, yes, most of what Moore had to say about politics, philosophy and so on. Part of the reason Moore tends to disown films of his work is because thus far, none of the films have managed to capture the complexities and subtle themes of his work.

Lisa Pease said...

To those who say "read the book first," my point is, all movies have to stand on their own.

Your ticket doesn't say "must have read book first" when you buy it, and I'm judging the movie, not the book, and not the joint experience.

It's unfair to ask people to read a long book before seeing a movie. If the movie can't stand on its own, so be it.

I'm sure the book was great. But I'm only judging the movie here.

Lisa Pease said...

Ebon, I appreciate your comments. I think that's why the V for Vendetta movie worked so well for me. Moore's world view was not only preserved, but updated for our post-9/11 era.

That's why Watchmen failed. They tried to make an actual superhero movie instead of the political commentary Moore intended. I went to see it hoping for the latter, and very disappointed in getting only the former.

john said...

i don't mean to be rude but you are really off the mark with your movie review.
are you really advocating that all movies should be dumbed down so that everything about them is easily understood at first viewing???
god no!!! please no!!!
the author AND the film makers were opting to play devil's advocate instead of some obvious hit-you-over-the-head moralistic preaching. you're basically advocating that the film makers do away with the things that made the novel good, and incidentally challenging.
please don't try to tell people which of alan moore's messages aren't in the film if you can't even make time to read the (graphic) novel.
lastly, it's so incredible boring to read yet an other novel vs. movie review when there are real issues available.