I first read Watchmen just after the original mini-series finished up its run in 1986. As a country kid, I didn’t live close to a comic shop, so summer vacations to California, and the occasional foray to Indianapolis, were the only places I could get comics that I couldn’t get at our local Haag’s drug store (yes, kids, they used to sell comics in spinner racks at drug stores. That was just after I waved goodbye to my uncle and my cousins when they left for Oregon in a Conestoga wagon).
And Watchmen, being part of DC Comics’ direct-only initiative (which removed Teen Titans and Legion of Super-heroes from my world, but that’s a rant for later) was not available at the Haag’s drug.
This was probably good for many, many reasons.
So when I was in Cali, visiting what is still my favorite store of all time: Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy in Livermore, California, I found all issues of Watchmen in the back issue bin, and used my saved up money to purchase them all. I think they were $1.25 apiece. Again, this is depressing.
I should mention I was 13 years old at the time. If you’ve read Watchmen, or seen the movie, you will understand a lot more about me now.
Needless to say, I loved every panel. I was young enough that a lot of the deeper meaning went over my head, but have loved it even more as I got older and those other layers revealed themselves.
So when the movie ads started running, I started annoying my wife about it ( i was not stupid enough to think the kids were going). She probably would have smothered me in my sleep except that my fanboy squeeee was audible only to the dogs.
She was in … it looked interesting. She’s always tolerated my geeky side, and likes a good movie if it’s a good movie, no matter what it’s about.
So we went …
I have been given a probationary period of 365 calendar days before I am allowed to pick the movies again.
It was … well, the core was there. The first ten minutes were some of the most incredible moments of cinema I’ve ever experienced. The last supper pastiche with Sally Jupiter at the center, Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis discreetly off to the side … it was … wow.
And I liked the movie at a very basic, visceral, level. It seemed right. Everything but Malin Ackerman anyway. It worked.
An aside: how awesome would Amy Acker have been as Laurie Jupiter (yes, Juspecyk, but the movie didn’t get into that)?
My wife has a very low tolerance for gore, but if it’s necessary to the story, it’s not a big deal. I used to think I had a high tolerance to that sort of thing. I’ve never said a movie was too gory …
This movie was just too, too gory. Yes, this is a world punctuated with moments of sudden, horrific violence. That’s appropriate to the story, necessary. Everything in Watchmen’s 1985 is kind of hyper-real, ramped up. But in this movie, it was constant, it dulled you to it, which made it less effective. It was like a super-hero movie made by a thirteen-year-old, all shock, no context. It even made some horrific scenes from the original more gory for no real reason. I’m thinking of Rorschach in the child-killer’s house. That’s not how he killed him in the original, and the original, the fire, the coldness, was much more effective than this hot rage. That cold dropping of the match, the walking away, THAT was Kovacs breaking and Rorschach emerging. Not the raging, gore-porny, hatchet/skull montage.
This movie really got the story in a lot of ways, but in a lot of ways did not. The one moment of gore from the book, that slow pan of the bodies in Times Square … absent. The one really grim moment we needed to linger on … not there. I mean, I understand going with nuclear attacks instead of the big giant squid, but the apocalypse was mundane, which it absolutely should not have been.
I wanted to love it. I couldn’t even really like it very much. I probably would have known what to expect if I’d seen 300, which I hadn’t. I don’t want to now. I don’t want to see a Snyder movie ever again.
It’s too bad. It could have been amazing (I need the first ten minutes by themselves).
Zach Snyder doesn’t get it, really. He got most of it. The look and feel, characterizations (one notable expection already mentioned), were all spot-on. But it went waaaay over the top and undercut its own point.
Now, J.J. Abrams …please don’t screw up Star Trek…