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Zack Snyder's Watchmen 
11th-Mar-2009 11:09 am
For a while now, I've been laughing at the tagline on the Watchmen posters: from the visionary director of 300, because,well, 300 was a hilariously faithful adaptation of someone else's vision, and that's what I, and from the discussions before the movie a lot of other fans, wanted from Watchmen; Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' vision put onto the screen.

That was what I expected and wanted and that, to an extent was what I got. The visuals felt like Watchmen, the characters were all right (and the performances, without exception, were amazing), and even with the changes to the story, the spirit was there, and the overall ideas on subjective morality  were kept, even without layer upon layer of subplot. There were so many panel-to-screen and word for word quotations, it might have rendered itself pointless.

What I wasn't expecting - though I was hardly surprised, and it wasn't unwelcome - was to laugh my way through so much of it. Maybe it's that having read it, I was no longer shocked by the actions of the heroes, so the oh my god these people are sick element was gone. I felt a lot like Silk Spectre described in one scene - you know your friend needs help and you can't explicitly condone his actions, but they're so familiar that you can only laugh. But that's only some of it. The rest is the parts that weren't strict adaptations - the parts of Snyder's tagline-a-riffic vision, that I recognised from 300: The random slow mo, the heavy-handed soundtrack, and the world's funniest sex scene.

I mean com'on guys, with all the spoiler-filled reviews I read before seeing the film, no one could say Also, this film will do more damage to the song Hallelujah than the X-Factor ever could"? Seriously?

A good movie adaptation takes the premise of a book and recreates the story using the medium of cinema, changing details where necessary to make a good movie first, everythig else later. This isn't a bad adaptation, but it's more of a filmmaker's fan tribute to the original story; you know, when people set scenes of Buffy  to songs about women kicking arse, without much thought or creative input of their own. In this case, the story is strong enough not to need anything, and the sledgehammer camera speeds and soundtrack only emphasise what was already fairly over the top in the original. If you want a violence filled romp of people in costumes and Batman and Robin style rubber nipples, this is your film. If you want a slightly more effective tale about the subjectiveness of morality and deconstruction of comic tropes as they stood in 1985, find the book.

The Hathor Legacy has a better review of the film itself, by the way. Meanwhile, I've realised that with all the similarities between the Minutemen and the Modern Age Justice Society/League, and between Silk Spectre and the Modern Age Black Canary - Watchmen did it first.
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11th-Mar-2009 11:37 am (UTC)
I don't remember expressing annoyance at you. I do know that people don't have to see a film if they do't want to, but not seeing a movie adaptation of a work you love isn't a crime; I didn't see Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

(That review has already disagreed with me. Malin Akerman was a fantastic Laurie)

If, as artist Frank Santoro recently remarked, the original comics were "a Lutheran reformation text knocking on the door of the Catholic establishment by a devout believer," then the movie kicks down the castle church's door, leaps onto the altar and pounds all the wine in sight ‘cause it just don't care and then it flexes its muscles and slips on its shades before saying "the treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men." Then it pulls out a skateboard and grinds down a pew out a window. Also, this happens after the Enlightenment.


Edited at 2009-03-11 11:40 (UTC)
11th-Mar-2009 11:47 am (UTC)
Don't Fear The Reaper was used in the sex scene in Scream. Unfortunately it was a quiet, slowed down cover so I didn't realise which song it was until it was almost over.
11th-Mar-2009 11:54 am (UTC)
That's hilarious. I didn't notice at all.
11th-Mar-2009 12:52 pm (UTC)
Oh and it turns out it is the Leonard Cohen version after all. I didn't remember it sounding like that.
11th-Mar-2009 01:02 pm (UTC)
*puts it on now*

Well, it's better without the uh - 'visual reminders' of the symbolism.
11th-Mar-2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
*shrug* I can think of worse things to associate with that song than Malin Akerman in the nip.
11th-Mar-2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
and even with the changes to the story, the spirit was there,

That was all I wanted. Absolutely faithful books make terrible movies, but I didn't hate 'V for Vendetta' either - I was amazed they had the guts to put so much of the spirit onto the screen. I think Watchmen totally succeeded in getting the spirit across.

I'm with you, Malin Akerman was great.
11th-Mar-2009 12:14 pm (UTC)
I liked V for Vendetta (and haven't read the book) but generally liked the changes they made (Stephen Fry especially), but I'd still have liked to see more made of the moral ambiguity of the government.
11th-Mar-2009 12:31 pm (UTC)
I also liked Malin Akerman! And I adored Patrick Wilson as Dan, as you, er, probably saw from my LJ.

But oh God, that sex scene. I hate that version of Hallelujah (*hides from ... pretty much everyone ever*), and just, wow. I still can't decide if Zack Snyder was on the really really good drugs or the really really bad ones when he okayed that.
11th-Mar-2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
Actually, I would say that it is visionary... for a director not to just shit all over a comic book adaptation.
11th-Mar-2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
Maybe you were watching different comic book movies from me during 2008?
11th-Mar-2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking of movies like Daredevil, Elektra, Catwoman, the Ang Lee Hulk movie, and X-men 3.
11th-Mar-2009 02:07 pm (UTC)
Well yes, they were crap. But not all comic adaptations are. Watchmen is definitely not the first good one. It's not even the first good adaptation of an Alan Moore comic.
11th-Mar-2009 03:06 pm (UTC)
... which Alan Moore comic prior to Watchmen do think was also a good adaptation? Because while I think LXG and V for Vendetta were fun movies to watch, the adaptation was not good. (Doubly so for LXG.)

But then, I like the movie Mystery Men. I don't think it's a good movie, but it's hilarious to watch.

Edited at 2009-03-11 15:07 (UTC)
11th-Mar-2009 03:15 pm (UTC)
I was specifically refering to V for Vendetta, but judging not just on being a good adaptation, but a good movie.
11th-Mar-2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
Silk Spectre was the only one of the Watchmen leads not to be a direct analogue for a Charlton character, and I think Black Canary was the main inspiration for her. So it's a bit like the UK's thing of taking rock'n'roll, creating pop, and then sending it back to the US to be ripped off in its turn.
11th-Mar-2009 01:44 pm (UTC)
Makes a lot of sense.

If my understanding of how DC contuity works, in 1985 the situation was that Dinah was the daughter of BC1, having taken her place and moved to Earth 1 after Aquarius killed Larry Lance (established in very recent years; 1980, I think), and the JSA was just the Earth 1 version of the JLA.

After Watchmen, in CoIE, the JSA was established as the previous generation's JLA; the Minutemen to the Watchmen (now, IIRC, in the comic both generations were called Minutemen, can you confirm that?). Dinah's new history became that she grew up surrounded by these heroes, and her mother's character evolved into something domineering like Sally.

I assume Silk Spectre was the inspiration for the new Dinah's middle name being Laurel.
11th-Mar-2009 01:55 pm (UTC)
Subject to my unclear grasp of DC multiversal continuity given how many reboots it's had, I think you're right with all of that except that in the comic, there's no group called the Watchmen (the utterance of that word in the trailers is one reason I've not seen the film) - Captain Metropolis' doomed attempt at a second generation group in the spirit of the Minutemen is called the Crimebusters, but they don't make it to the end of their inaugural meeting.

The only other minor detail is that while the JSA and JLA were principally distinguished by coming from different Earths, the JSA were still older, such that in later crossovers eg Batman had retired and been replaced by Dick Grayson as Red Robin.

Crisis and Watchmen were roughly contemporary, the former starting life as a failed pitch for a project to bring the Charlton characters into the newly-merged-into-one-DC Universe. When they pointed out 'Alan, this doesn't really enable us to use the characters, what with them mostly dying &c', it was retooled - but it certainly still had an influence. Some of the Charlton characters AFAIK first turned up in Legends, which features a Keane Act-style public loss of faith in the heroes. And now one of the 52 worlds of the Multiverse is basically Dark Charlton, ie Watchmen.

11th-Mar-2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
I thought that was new. It wasn't an established group in the movie, they just used the name a lot to refer to the Crimebusters generation.

Oh I knew the JSA were older, it's just that they were not all older, and they were still active. Red Robin wasn't the only second generation Bat - it also had Huntress, who had a very strange relationship with Earth One's batman. The second generation of JSA in Earth Zero, I think, didn't start until the 90s, in which Dinah was a founding member again.
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11th-Mar-2009 04:02 pm (UTC)
Yes, I know. I just didn't think that detail relevent :-P
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11th-Mar-2009 04:16 pm (UTC)
OK, for a minute I totally read that in the wrong tone.

:-P, anyway.

I did just recently read those issues in which she gets retconned as her own daughter. They are on the bad kind of crack.

The new mother daughter relationship, specifically as seen in JLA:Y1 does seem to be very much influenced by Watchmen. Even to the extent where Dinah snr had an affair with one of her teammates. It doesn't have the same results as in Watchmen, though.
11th-Mar-2009 05:24 pm (UTC)
Have you read JLA: Year One, by Mark Waid? I'm not normally a big fan of his, but I liked that one a lot and it has some good scenes with generational Canary stuff.
11th-Mar-2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
Do you want to reread the comment you just replied to?
12th-Mar-2009 10:14 am (UTC)
Sorry, missed the 'Y1' (hey, it's only two characters) and thought you were talking about the current JLA run, whose contents beyond the presence of Black Canary are unknown to me. And this is why I should always close the Facebook tab when I'm not using it so I don't get distracted by chats while trying to read anything longer than one line.
12th-Mar-2009 11:07 am (UTC)

I really did like it a lot, especially the Dinah-Dinah relationship.

(I really want a BC: Year 1 that also covers her relationship with Ted Grant ad her Dad, but I don't think that's forthcoming.)
11th-Mar-2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
Now why would we tell you and ruin the surprise? If I had to watch it unprepared then so must you! XD
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