Friday, March 06, 2009

Watching Watchmen

In anime (yes, a review of a comic book movie, citing anime, written on opening night. There is no doubt of my nerd cred) they often make a movies based on television series. For instance, say Lost comes out and is a popular tv show. So they decide to make Lost movie. The Lost movie will tell the same story as the 1st season of Lost. Except now Jack and Kate are married and Hurley is their kid. They take the story of the show, condense it down to a couple hours and tweak a couple plot points for convenience and for added variety.

This is kind of what happened in Watchmen.

To be sure, Zack Snyder was extremely faithful to his source material. But there was simply too much story for one movie. I think it's kind of pretentious to call things deep, but at the very least Watchmen is complex. There are many stories being told at once, and many are quite detailed, and necessarily so. It is simply too much to fit into a movie.

I liked it. But Brighteyes was confused throughout. Those anime movies aren't really made to be the introduction to the story. They're meant to be a conclusion. They're meant to be a consolidation of things you've seen and thought about during the series, and putting a slightly different light on it. Starting with the movie and then watching the series just isn't the way to do it. You watch the series, then the movie. Likewise, reading Watchmen, then seeing it seems to be the best way to enjoy them both.

Watchmen is a hard sell. The superfans are mad that one iota has been changed from the book. The book is good, but it's not sacrosanct people. The casual viewer will be confused. Now I have issues with lazy viewers. If you didn't get The Matrix, you're lazy and/or stupid. It wasn't complicated. If you don't get Watchmen, it's because there's a lot of explanation that's left out. So the movie isn't really great for veterans or for rookies. Only for those of us that fall in the middle.

So what can I say, I had a great time. It's a complicated movie, and has some pretty glaring flaws, but it also has a lot of things going for it. Rorschach is 8 kinds of awesome for one. Dr. Manhattan was done very well, which was kind of surprising to me. In fact, all the characters were presented well, save Ozymandias. The action was fantastic, but if you're looking for action you should look elsewhere. If you want a provocative stylish epic and can handle the flaws (and the violence, and the nudity, and the poor soundtrack) it's a good bet.

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