Monday, March 31, 2014

What's Next On My List? Watchmen

We haven't done comic book based movies in a while, so I thought I would get this one out of my system.

The Watchmen are a group of ordinary people who fight crime in the streets of New York. In this universe the people are always under pressure from a fear of nuclear war during the Cold War era. One of the Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan (the only one with actual super powers) wins the Vietnam war for the US which sets on a chain of events that never happened in real life. The imminent threat of nuclear war seems to be at hand, until one of the old Watchmen, Ozymandias, decides to sacrifice millions of people in order to then save billions. Evoking sympathy in the enemy results in peace, however it seems that his machinations may still come to life and the consequences could be even greater...

So it took me about three hundred years to watch this movie. Don't judge me, I have my reasons. First of all, I wanted to read it before I watched the movie. Now, my brother has the comic and he moved away and he just kept forgetting that I asked him to bring it. Second, I still didn't really care about it, not even after I was told about the blue penis. (Thankfully I don't seem to be that shallow after all.) However, I did finally read it and I did watch it - a month ago... Fine, it took me three hundred years to write this review as well, but I promised my best friend so I did want to get it done before I start working on anything else.

The comic? I loved it. I am a fan of dystopian futures and this one appealed to me a lot. I believe that people who make graphic novels - instead of on going comic series - into movies are somewhat blessed. The universe has a beginning, a middle and a finish. You don't need to worry about a thousand different writers imposing their different interpretations of the main characters (or heroes if you will) onto you. I felt the same way with V For Vendetta, which has to be my favorite comic book adaptation of all time (click here to read my review!). You can see that the makers actually used the source material. And if you read my blog you must have encountered that I generally like every single comic book movie. It is simply another writers interpretation of the very same character. Some people maybe don't like given writers and artists, therefore they might not like the movie. This can work both ways, as I like movies but sometimes cannot stand the art work.

So here we have to talk about Watchmen the movie, which as we all know uses a completely different tool for the twist in the end than the graphic novel does. Why? Excellent question, let us investigate. As far as the characters go, I think two in particular have to be mentioned. The one is Rorschach. He is really a nobody; somebody who has given up his own true self in order to become a hero. And he is also somewhat of an antihero as he will not refuse to kill the bad guy. The reader/viewer is not 100% sure if they should like him or not. This is mostly due to the fact that if you see for the billionth time that Batman just won't kill the Joker, even though you really know he should, you just get angry... but here if you see Rorschach kill someone you might say that he was a bit too violent. If you ask me, in the city that they live in? His actions are anything but too violent. He is actually killing one to save at least ten. And if this is the approach you take then you will notice that he and Ozymandias are exactly the same, only the second does it on a bigger scale. Just think about it: They both fight something to save many more in the process. Although a bit extravagant, Ozymandias did only wish to bring peace about. As you would say, the end justifies the means.
Here I need to admit that Ozymandias is probably my favorite character. He is a total psychopath. Probably worse than Rorschach! This is proven to me by the fact that no matter what evil they do, the latter does it on the spot and might sometimes even regret it. That is why Rorschach doesn't even use his real face anymore, he has completely become someone else. As for Ozymandias? Not only did he kill everyone in New York, he planned it! For months! He planned attacks on all of the Watchmen - even succeeded with most of them -, he took out his own scientists and his beloved cat (oh Bubastis... I loved you!) and all to save a corrupt nation from a corrupt war. Here comes the beauty of the whole story: He doesn't even get away with it. Most the Watchmen understand that he had to do it for peace. But they do know that it was not right.
I could go into detail and discuss all of the characters, but I'd rather not. I could write a whole book on each of them, and if you have read the comic then you know what I mean. The other two I believe are the most important in the movie, so let's just stick with them for now.

And here is the only change they made from the comic book. Ozymandias sends a genetically engineered monster to New York. He has stolen the transportation abilities of Dr. Manhattan, but has failed to perfect them. Because of this, anything transported explodes upon impact. This is, however, not a problem as he sends this monster to New York, which immediately dies but it takes out millions with him. Blood everywhere. In the movie they leave out the monster and blame it all on the powers of Dr. Manhattan, therefore giving him a reason to leave Earth for good. In both cases you do feel sympathy for the US: First they loose their biggest town and they realize there are extraterrestrial out there (or are at least fooled into believing). The enemy of my enemy is my friend. In the second case you feel sorry for them as their only ally has decided to turn against them. He is no longer a threat to Russia if he is a threat to the US as well. (Here I would like to point out that I just wrote a history midterm on US foreign relations last week and the last two sentences were very weird to write down.)
Getting back I cannot decide if I am happy about the change. I will say this, psychologically? It hits you. The movie ending? It really hits you. The whole concept of not only killing but literally wiping out an entire city and its citizens? It is horrible. But the horror of seeing all of those bodies? The blood? Just simply the colors and the remains? It actually hurts physically. What I am trying to say is that I think that both of them are equally as hard on the viewer/reader so I am not willing to side with either. I liked the one in the comic - in the comic. And I liked the one in the movie - in the movie. And if I really have to choose, I will say that Dr. Manhattan's departure from Earth makes a lot more sense in the movie as in the eyes of everyone else he is to be blamed for everything.

Now, for the more pressing matter, did I like the movie? Honestly, what is there that is not to like? It follows every single detail of the graphic novel for the exception of about three frames. I will say that the sex scene was completely unnecessary. Not to mention that for me Nite Owl was a lot more charismatic as a fat, but smart old superhero. But let that be my only problem because otherwise the casting was great. Deeper voice for Dr. Manhattan maybe... OK fine! I did have my little nitpicks but I don't care because guess what? Having watched the movie does not destroy the comic book experience! Being the weirdo that Zack Snyder is, be honest, it could've been a lot worse! Like... A LOT worse! And I will say that my favorite scene was the 5 minute montage at the beginning, which gave a gentle nod to all of the flashbacks in the comic book. I saw that prior to reading it and it was actually the reason that made me want to read it in the first place. (Go to the end of the entry to see it!)

Watch it? I don't know. I would tell you yes, because it is a great movie. Is it great without the comic book? It is, because I watched it with my sister who never even opened it and she still very much enjoyed it. This movie is not about heroes, you should be warned. This movie is about human beings. If you are looking for a kickass action movie, then this is definitely not for you. I will say this, anytime somebody says that Wolverine cannot wear his yellow suit because it would be silly? Look at these characters! Do they look silly in their costumes? No, they look effing badass!

Until the next item on my list!

 _ _ _ _ _ 

Laurie Jupiter / Silk Spectre II - Malin Akerman
Dr. Manhattan / Jon Osterman - Billy Crudup
Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias - Matthew Goode
Rorschach - Jackie Earle Haley
Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl - Patrick Wilson
Edward Blake / Comedian - Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre - Carla Gugino

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