Watching the Watchmen

09Mar09

I just came from watching the “Watchmen“, a comic adaptation of Alan Moore’s twelve-issue oeuvre of the same title that was released 1986/7.

Watchmen was the first graphic novel I laid my hands on, together with Sin City (by Frank Miller), and I remember how the characters were so impressive, three-dimensional, it was hard to tell who was really good and who was not and if the distinction between those two concepts even makes sense, in a way, since there is no pure “good” or “evil” – not even when it comes to superheros.

I remember how Rorschach was such an incredibly multilayered character. Even though I felt like I had to dislike him he is still one of my favorite superheros. He perfectly combined the two notions of doing good and doing evil. Sometimes even at the same time – by doing something evil he did something good. Always depending on the point of view and definition of the situation.

I remember how the other characters were just as interesting, but perhaps less complex, than Rorschach. Driven by emotions, principles, politics, passion and visions. It was hard to tell at first (at least, for me) who is behind all this, who is the driving force, who is the real villain in this novel.

When I think of the movie I just saw I miss all these things – the incredibly complex characters, breaking stereotypes, showing how corrupt and troubled superheros are – they are not infallible, not superhumans (well, except for Dr. Manhattan maybe). I miss having a hard time liking Rorschach. I miss not having a clue who might be the real villain, because certain cinematic tricks made it very clear from the very beginning.

I thought I would never say this but how violence is depicted in Watchmen might be over the top. The graphic novel may be graphic as well but some scenes turned out a little harsher, a little more brutal than initally intended. Certain scenes almost made my stomach turn – the combination of the story told and the visualization were too much. This coming from the person who sat through hours and hours of usability testing for Manhunt 2.

I liked the visuals, though. I liked Dr. Manhattan and (I am well aware that whatever it is I am going to say – it will sound wrong) how he was presented. How his skin had so much detail and even underneath his skin one could see particles and whatnot flying around. And I have learned, from my ingenious and beloved partner in crime, that Dr. Manhattan is circumcised. I feel so much wiser.

All in all, a nice experience. It could have been different, though. I am not even saying it could have been better – because it could have been so much worse. In the end, though, I missed the feeling I have when I read the graphic novel. Not the feelings I had when I read it for the first time – but the feelings I have after every single read.

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4 Responses to “Watching the Watchmen”

  1. The comic book has a very different ending, including some seriously trippy tentacles:

    http://fullbodytransplant.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/watchmen-squid-the-real-ending/

    Enjoy.

  2. Yes, the ending, I agree. Not sure why they chose this ending.

    To be honest, though, the depiction of the characters is what made the whole movie-experience a little bitter for me. Or, to be more general, how most of the time they stuck to the comic book (which I fully support) but somehow did not get the feeling across in the end.

  3. 3 Jurie

    IMO they picked this ending because it would have taken too much time to effectively set up the ending from the book. There weren’t that many scenes showing the making of the tentacles in the book, but there was enough information that it would have taken a lot of time to convey that in a movie that was already bursting at the seams.

  4. Still haven’t seen the movie, I really must find time this week… So far unfortunately I’ve only heard “bad” reports from my friends, which sucks since I’m a big fan of the comic… 😐


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