Mightymon submitted a movie review for The Watchmen recently. A movie I have yet to see, but wish to do so at some point in the near future.
I pasted the review behind the cut, only slightly edited. Maybe some day MightyMon will remember that he can log on and post these himself
I thought it was mostly well-done. My main problems were:
1) Too much slow-mo
2) Too flashy fight scenes
3) Lack of characterization
5) FUCKING DIFFERENT ENDING MOTHERFUCKER GODDAMMIT
It’s Zak Snyder (or however he spells his name) so I knew there’d be slow-mo, but jesus, what does he think it adds to scenes? It’s not like every time all action slows to a stylistic crawl the audience
or anything (I am linking that because, you know, what if someone doesn’t get the reference?).
Which leads into the fight scenes, because it is invariably the fight scenes that are slowed down. Again, what is added — especially in a movie based on a work that is trying to strip down the superhero genre? The opening fight scene with the Comedian, the fight in the alley, and the gauntlet in the jail all annoyed the crap out of me because they all felt like the complete opposite of what the book (and thus the movie, which was trying to keep true to the book) was going for. The Comedian did not need to get beat up that much. There was a fight, sure, but what is added by throwing him anywhere other than through a window? (Also, Mr. Snyder, everyone knows you made 300, you don’t need to pop in references like The Comedian’s apartment number being 3001 and then when The Comedian throws a drink it knocks off the 1 and the camera lingers just a split-second too long on how it says 300 now, we get it.) The fight scenes in the alley and jail suffer for the same reason, and it’s weird, because the entire point of these characters is that they are actual human beings — yet they fight like characters out of the Matrix. Granted, they obviously would have some form of martial arts training in order to do their jobs, but the only actual “super powered” character is Dr. Manhattan, and the only regular human with near super-human reflexes is Ozy (which is another gripe, because they barely did anything to explain his backstory). Niteowl and Silk Spectre II (possibly the best comic book character name ever) should not have been having slowed down, stylistically flashy fights where they look like badasses, because they’re not. They are not characters who do kickflips or throw people across rooms or sweep someone’s legs which makes them rotate 180 degrees in the air and then kick them in the back so they fly into a wall. It’s just not who they are.
Which brings up characterization. Obviously the book is a huge, complex endeavor that was often called unfilmable because of the sheer volume of material, but they just left out so much. Yes, they did a good job with The Comedian’s history, and Dr. Manhattan’s, and to a lesser extent Rorschach’s, but the two main characters who were a focus for a lot of the plot, Niteowl and Silk Spectre II, didn’t get the same treatment. Niteowl has so much more depth than was presented and Silk Spectre, despite being kind of a weak character in the book, still had more story than that. They both felt glossed over. Why was Niteowl even Niteowl? And when Silk Spectre found out about her dad…who cares? There was nearly no basis for her reacting the way she did. It didn’t make sense unless you’d read the book. The emotional connection between Comedian and Silk Spectre/II, that whole triangle, just was not developed to the point where it made sense for II to be so devastated by the revelation. And the relationship between Niteowl and Spectre II didn’t feel developed; it felt like, “Meh, they’re together in the book, we might as well throw em together in the movie, makes sense!” Niteowl’s existential angst wasn’t mentioned, or how much their lives changed since masks were outlawed, and the motivation for them finding each other, or why they were attracted to each other, did not have the emotional heft it should have.
Switching gears, where the fuck did Ozymandias come from? He was just there. Oh, there’s some dude, people say he’s smart, he’s apparently rich, and he has a lot of TVs for some reason. Just there because he had to be there without proper explanation or fleshing-out. Sweet, he can catch a bullet, but he’s not Dr. Manhattan. Why was that not explained? I am glad they had Bubastis, though, even if there was no mention of how he came to be — like his master, he was just there.
The film was also really gratuitous. I should have expected it, I mean Zack Snyder is more or less one of those frat boys that doesn’t seem uncool for reading comic books, but the sex scene with Niteowl and Spectre II was just ridiculous. Yes, Spectre is hot and I wouldn’t kick her out of bed, &c., but it didn’t add anything to the movie but luridness. The entire audience, including me, laughed at that part. Rorschach’s story with the kidnapped girl did not happen that way in the book, and more importantly, did not need to happen the way it did in the movie. What was gained by chopping into the guy’s head like a watermelon? In the jail, why focus on the dude’s arms being lopped off (which was also a departure from the book) like we were watching Saw?
And the ending: I know why they changed it, and it more or less fits in with the rest of the story, but it’s a little too Dark Knight in the shouldering-of-blame-for-the-greater-good department. I would have loved to see the book ending on screen just because it is so bizarre and over-the-top (both of which are the point) but all of that backstory would have been too much to shoehorn into an already-packed movie. So I mean, I guess I’m more or less ok with the ending, because it makes sense for the movie, but it’s just not the same. Oh well.
On the plus side, I thought the visuals were great, and the characters were mostly spot-on. Dr. Manhattan could have used a better voice, you know — just as detached, but not so high-pitched. I expected more of a God-type voice.