No alarms and no surprises, please.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Fridge watches the Watchmen

Ok, I've obsessively cyber-stalked this movie for over a year. I love the book and wanted to love the movie. I wanted to come home in a post-coital-nerd-movie-glow like I did from the first Spiderman flicks, Iron Man, The Matrix, etc...

It didn't happen.

For me, the movie was a roller-coaster. There were moments where I was riding high in love with what I was seeing and moments that just didn't work at all and I wanted to hit fast-forward. Some of the problems stem simply from the nature of doing an adaptation. When it's done well, it works. Otherwise, not so much. Some of them are the known casting problems. And some of the problems are, frankly, bits brought to the material by Zack Snyder.

When it works, it's wonderful. There were times I was sitting in the theater with a smile on my face thinking, "Holy Crap, it's Watchmen!" There were also times when I thought, "Ugh, what the fuck was that?"

In the end, it was a bit of a disappointment for me. And much of my frustration is from mistakes that were completely avoidable. My prediction is that some internet geek will do some of the fixing with a macbook re-edit, as the Star Wars geeks did when they removed Jar Jar Binks. But that won't erase the missteps that are burned in my brain. And that makes me a bit bummed. I had bought into the hype and it didn't live up to it.

Specifics and spoilers below. Stop reading if you don't want to be spoiled.

Here, specifically is what worked for me.
* Rorschach - Easily the best thing in the movie is Jackie Earl Haley. Fantastic. The movie was always good when he was on the screen.
* The uber violence of the scene where Rorshach and the psychiatrist and also in the prison in general. It's meaningful to Rorshach as a character, because that's what separates himself from his partners. He's crazy. I was riveted in that scene.
* Dr. Manhattan - glowing blue schlong aside, that's about as good as Manhattan could have been done, I think. And I expected a bit of a spacey voice, but Crudup's voice was very low key and very human. I ended up really liking it that way.
* The sequence with Dr. Manhattan's origin and the photo on mars. That was cool.
* The opening sequence was cool.
* The opening voice over. I was geeking out over the dialog.

Here's what didn't
* Malin Ackerman - What the fuck! Seriously, what the fuck! Argh! She even kinda looked weird naked.
* The uber violence everywhere else - This, apparently, is a Snyder signature. It didn't bother me in 300, because that's what that movie is about. That is not what the Watchmen is about. It was gratuitous. I wasn't horrified by it, but it just doesn't fit, so it's like dissonant notes in a song. You're cruising along and then all of a sudden Malin "I can't Act"erman is breaking some dude's elbow in slowmo with a bloody crunch and sticking a knife in his neck. Or Dr Manhattan is killing some dudes and spraying blood all over people's faces. And piled up over the entire film and it just became annoying. The exception is the Rorshach violence mentioned above. It was necessary there, just not anywhere else.
* The fire splooge in the sky scene - Tart was all over this, as well as the violence, and she's right. I'm all for humping but, this was weird. In the book, it was more classic Hollywood style love making, silhouettes, etc., and the owlship spewing mist plus fire fits that. With this, I almost was expecting a money shot.
* The sound track is fucked up - Again, Tart is all over that. This is a trick that should have ended with Forrest Gump - using songs to put the viewer in the frame of mind for a period. Thing is, that's absolutely the wrong choice for this movie. This is an alternate reality. Trying to use music place us in a time where Richard Nixon is in the middle of his 5th term as president is messed up. It didn't work at all. I seriously hope some nerd is gonna edit that shit out or there's a bad music soundtrack-free audio track on the DVD. That shit was jarring at times. It just needed a score. The 300 score was great. WTF, Snyder?
* I seriously don't remember Nixon and Kissinger having that much of a role in the book. If they did, I forgot it. But, those performances in the movie were weird and I hated it.
* I ended up missing the squid. I had long ago read about the change of the ending and had talked myself into the fact that it would be ok. I understood that by changing the end, they'd be able to skip a bunch of exposition regarding the origin of the squid. But, as the ending arrived I realized I was wrong. I did not like the change of the end and frankly the earth uniting against fake aliens makes more sense than uniting against Dr. Manhattan's possible return. Here's an idea, cut out the pelvic thrusts and blood spatters to free up time for the squid. And the floaty huggy crap? Ugh.
* The epilogue - That shit was terrible. The "I love you Mom" scene? And then including a random appearance of the New Frontiersman that was not set up at all. On the cutting room floor, I guess. Maybe a 4 hr director's cut will fix that?
* Ozymanidas - I probably didn't hate this casting choice as much as some, but Matthew goode was believable in the fight scenes and ably delivered the lines. There was just a lack of command emanating from his Ozy. Ozy has to be a big authoritarian figure. He wasn't. It hurt the movie.

It may seem like I hated the movie because I have more gripes than raves. That's not true. However it is far closer to the truth than I had hoped. And that will be hard to get over.