So this is more or less my nitpicky, fanboyish "review" of Watchmen which I just saw today. It's long. If you decide to read it, I thank you for your time.
There be spolers. OH yes. I warned you.
The intro was amazing. Seriously, amazing. I was enthralled by the first minute of the movie. While I was sitting there watching the credits go by, for the first time, it finally sunk in: "Holy shit. They made the fucking "unfilmable" Watchmen movie." Then the Comedian scene occurred and I was floored. I really couldn't believe it. It was the comic in movie form. What everyone says is true: almost every single scene in the movie is perfectly recreated, panel for panel, from the comic.
The movie expectedly leaves a few things out, like most comic-to-movie conversions usually do, but what they did leave out was not too important (Iíll get to that later). However there was other stuff they left in, which could have been removed and replaced with some other things, which makes me wonder when that kind of decision is made, do they compare it to other scenes? Or is it just a timing thing?
I loved this movie. In fact, there were many times where the scenes were so visually arresting and loyal to the source material that it drove me to tears (the good kind of tears) from being just so fucking perfect. Of course, I was let down by a few things. I'll start off with the good points:
A lot of the special effects/cgi were also very fun to watch: the glass castle Dr. Manhattan makes on Mars, flying around in Nite Owl's ship, the jailbreak scene, and all the fight scenes were great. There were also a lot of very gory, violent scenes. Sometimes the scenes were overly violent, like one of the first changes I noticed: Instead of Rorschach setting the first man he killedís house on fire, and watching him burn alive while contemplating existence, what it means to be a masked hero, and deciding to take matters into his own hands, he instead cuts the guy's head open with a butcher's knife, like a watermelon.
Other things I liked: Bubastis looks purrrrfect (but he is only shown at the end and is in like 4 scenes), all the costumes look amazing, a lot of the dialogue is taken directly from the book, and I really didn't mind the "new" ending as bad as I was expecting to. Let's see... what else? Oh yeah: Rorschach steals the show. Remember how awesome he was in the book? Remember how you couldnít wait to get to the next page that had Rorschach in it? Yeah, he's pretty much still that awesome (but he was never shown eating sugar cubes. A minor detail? Perhaps.). I think I remember reading a review that said something along the lines of ďJackie Earle Haley was born on this Earth to play the role of Rorschach.Ē And I couldnít agree more. His performance is that good. And you hardly ever see his face!
Now onto the bad stuff:
Firstly, animation movements and more specifically, the mouth movements of CG on Dr. Manhattan: disappointing. Well not like Beowulf bad, but overall there were some definite uncanny valley moments. On the other hand, there are some other scenes where they did an amazing job with him. Totally convincing. That's to be expected, but I'm very sorry there were some scenes that turned out the way they did. I was happy they kept him nude for a good portion of the scenes he was in, but Iíve noticed a lot of immature comments (probably those who didnít read the book) who donít understand that he didnít need clothing or much else, for that matter, to live. (Comparatively, though, they were very gracious to Docís member.) Dr. Manhattan talks very softly and slowly. He doesnít have an echo in his voice or anything special like they do in the Motion Comic, he just sounds like a normal guy. Almost a little too normal...almost to the extent of sounding weak. Iím sure they made that decision for clarityís sake, but itís noticeable. And at times, his body movement seems like it's entirely in slow motion, which is something I'm not sure Zack did on purpose (since he's obsessed with slo-mo shots) or it was just poor, unconvincing CG. Heís also way too buff for his own good. I know Dr. Manhattan was definitely close to being a ďperfect being,Ē but his physique is way too close to a bodybuilder, which at times is a bit unsettling, and in some scenes he comes across more akin to a big blue wrestler than a man who has no imperfections in his body structure. To this day, no one has ever been able to best Gollum for best CG actor. Who knows when that day will come. But it wasn't just the CG either: the actor who played Richard Nixon, while doing a perfect job matching mannerisms and voice, had an extremely unconvincing makeup job that stands out every time. If you can just keep telling yourself "ok, yeah that's Nixon, sure," it might not be so bad, but there were plenty of closeup shots of this actor in full makeup and it just. looked. bad.
As most people have already pointed out, Malin Ackermanís performance was underwhelming. There are some scenes that are just flat out, *poorly acted.* And Iím not usually noticing things like that when I watch movies. She also has almost no backstory at all, and neither did Nite Owl. So maybe them both having non-existent backstories is why they got together? >_> You never see the scene where she throws her drink in the Comedianís face, you never see the scene where she goes into the den and breaks the snow globe while her parents are bickering. She doesnít even smoke. In fact, the only people who smoke are the Comedian and Big Figure! Like, do you still think ďoh we shanít be showing bad smoking habits to the kiddies,Ē when you have people taking butchers knives to peopleís heads? Gimme a break. The movie is rated R, fucking give me a goddamn rated R movie. Donít peddle to me like Iím immature.
Silk Spectre was nothing more than a pretty face. She didnít even need to be in the movie because she hardly served any purpose other than being a pretty face. She didnít even seem convincing enough to Dr. Manhattan on Mars. All he did was look at her and realize, ďYou exist the way you are purely based on random chance, and thatís pretty close to being a miracle. Ok, Iíll give Earth another go.Ē When she realized the Comedian was daddy dearest, I felt nothing. Not because it wasnít tragic, but because the movie never set us up to the improbability that he was her father. And they never even touched on his scar deforming his face so that he looked like he was perpetually sneering (like the Joker). They almost downplayed the scar/face deformation. And that, my friends, is tragic...almost to the point of being, dare I say it, a joke.
The moment I saw the actor chosen for this character I questioned it. And I think in the end I was right. The actor was too skinny, too weak, and completely awful and impassionate to take on the role of Veidt. He did not portray the character well at all. And he looks like an 18-year old boy. There are some parts with him that are just flat out boring to watch. His dialogue is just completely uncompelling and flat out boring. He isnít nearly as sinister as he is in the book, and he doesnít come off as ďthe worldís smartest manĒ either. He isnít the kind of guy that you just love to hate him because heís so damn smart and clever, and way in the back of your mind you admire him and almost pity him for being so selfless and selfish at the same time. Yeah, this guy is none of those things. Sorry Zack, you lost me on Adrian.
Oh right, they introduced Hollis Mason just to have that 1 conversation with Dan, and then we NEVER SEE HIM EVER AGAIN. Guess we'll have to wait for the Director's Cut DVD, eh Zack?
Like I said before, scene for scene, the movie pretty much follows the timing and plot of the comic to a T. Right down to the little drip of ketchup that falls on the New Frontiersman guy's smiley face shirt at the end. This movie was made for fans, by a fan. It was a fan-made movie, and it really, truly tries its damn hardest to be respectful to its original source. Watchmen should have been, at the very least, a 2-part movie. At the most, an awesome mini-series. But itís not. And here we are, and thereís nothing to be done about it. In the end, should Watchmen never have been made into a film? Probably, but at least it was still pretty damn fun and entertaining way to kill 2.5 hours.