Monday, February 09, 2009

We Can't Wait #11 Watchmen

Directed by Zach Snyder
Starring Billy Crudup's CG'd manhood, Malin Akerman's pleather dominatrix get-up, possibly Patrick Wilson's ass (do not cheat me of Patrick Wilson's ass, Zach Snyder! You promised you're staying true to the book!), and other people obscured to varying degrees by CG and their outfits
Synopsis In an alternate version of 1985 where Richard Nixon is still president and the world is on the edge of apocalypse, somebody's decided to start offing retired superheroes. Masked man Rorschach wants to find out why. Lots of bad stuff happens. Maybe a squid is involved. The end.
Brought to you by the man responsible for 300, of which people's mileage will most certainly vary wildly
Not Brought to You By Alan Moore, the graphic novel's author, who is a little bit crazy and a lot vociferous on the fact that this should have never been made (he calls it "regurgitated worms"!)
Expected Release Date March 6th, now that the FOX execs have been fed their seventy virgins.

Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan

JA: I for one am a 300 defender, but this is a whole different ballpark for Mr. Snyder to be wandering into. This isn't just pretty pictures of mostly-naked men, decapitations, and giant elephants in the Spartan version of those 40's propaganda cartoons starring Daffy Duck. This is holy land. Watchmen is sacred geek ground, and the apex of what superhero storytelling is all about. It's as good as it gets.

Where The Dark Knight made strides towards
a more adult realization of the genre's possibilities, if Snyder were to capture all that this story has on the page then this could, then this should, be the first superhero movie nominated for Best Picture.

Nathaniel: I know you just didn't open up that can of worms again! [editor's note: Nathaniel's rant about stuffy Oscars, crazy fanboys & "dark" superheroes has been excised on the grounds of 'let's not go there again'] ...I don't trust this Zach Snyder person!

Joe: Oddly enough, after hating the shit out of 300, I do trust Snyder. What he did right on that dick-measuring-contest-put-to-celluloid (the spectacle, the fidelity to the source material; the operatic drama) will work well on Watchmen, and this time he doesn't have to worry about Frank Miller's weird psycho-sexual hangups. Between these two and the Dawn of the Dead remake, Snyder has become THE go-to guy for faithful ambitious adaptations of genre material,

Nathaniel: There was more to this conversation readers but I have to interrupt. I caught about 17 minutes of Watchmen at Comic Con.

[Spoilers follow]

The movie begins with a newscast talking about possible nuclear attacks on America. We're back in the Cold War 80s but in an alternate reality from our own. The newscaster assures us that there won't be a nuclear war because of somebody named "Dr. Manhattan" (that'd be glowing blue Billy Crudup. I have not read Watchmen as Joe and Ja have but I have absorbed a few character details over the years). Cut to Jeffrey Dean Morgan who plays "The Comedian" smoking a cigar in his apartment. He wears that famous yellow happy face pin from the 80s on his bathrobe. He recognizes the intruder and they have a nasty wince filled fight (one shot of the Comedian's head taking a huge chunk out of the kitchen counter. Ouch). Morgan is sent through a plate glass window and plummets to his death. Cue: Watchmen's iconic marketing image, the happy face marred by a blood splatter. Cue: opening credits.


The credits were very cool and filled with brief illustrated tableau referencing either famous cultural moments twisted for this alternate universe --the recreation of that famous WW II kiss is awesome -- or the history of the Watchmen characters. I know that people are expecting this movie to be huge but I wonder. Everyone knows the Batman mythos. It's been with us for 70 years. I'm guessing non Watchmen readers will be very confused. Trust me, I was... and I basically know the concept and characters.

Once the credits are over, we meet Rorschach, pictured left. He's played by Little Children's Jackie Earle Haley and he speaks in Batman Bale's voice (???). He also hates liberals and intellectuals. (Er... is this another neo conservative movie? Aren't we supposed to be entering a new era? Bah!) He uses a grappling hook to scale the building and searches the apartment of the dead guy we met pre-credits. Fade out. That was the first 16 minutes or so.

We were also treated to a very brief scene from somewhen else in the movie (inside a prison). Rorschach is waiting in line for grub and hurls frying oil from the line onto the face of a fellow prisoner who was threatening him. Gruesome! As the guards restrain him he growls...
You don't understand. I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in hear with me!
This would have been very scary -- Haley is good at creepy -- were it not for Batman's voice.

The Comic Con crowd went absolutely wild for all of this. At the Q & A that followed audience members at the mic gushed that the movie would be perfect and thank-you-so-much-for-making-such-a-wonderful-movie (Here we go again! Another #1 on the IMDB the day the movie opens. Trust me. People have already decided it's their favorite movie). Original Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons was an engaging presence and gave details: no squid --sorry JA, total Dr Manhattan nudity assured. He also discussed why Watchmen creator Alan Moore's name is nowhere on the movie. But what's odder than Moore not wanting credit is that he also turned down all moneys. He crazy!

Carla Gugino and Malik Akerman as Silk Spectre & Silk Spectre II

The most interesting part of the conversation was Gibbons' well spoken dismay at how influential Watchmen has been. Both he and Moore wanted to do a fresh adult take on superheroes (this isn't a superhero film for kids) but they certainly didn't think that all comic books that followed should decide that dark and cynical was the way to go. He cited the Spider-Man movies (thank you) as another great way to do things and said there's room for multiple takes on the genre. Exactly!

Readers... do you need a break from superhero movies or will you be lining up to see Nite Owl, Silk Spectre and Dr Manhattan strut their CGI stuff?

In case you missed any entries they went like so...
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We Can't Wait:
#1 Inglourious Basterds, #2 Where the Wild Things Are, #3 Fantastic Mr. Fox,
#4 Avatar, #5 Bright Star, #6 Shutter Island, #7 Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
#8 Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, #9 Nailed,
#10 Taking Woodstock,
#11 Watchmen, #12 The Hurt Locker, #13 The Road, #14 The Tree of Life
#15 Away We Go, #16 500 Days of Summer, #17 Drag Me To Hell,
#18 Whatever Works, #19 Broken Embraces, #20 Nine (the musical)
intro (orphans -didn't make group list)

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22 comments:

Dom said...

Lining up, all the way! I read it last year and was absolutely blown away.

Weirdly, I feel the same as Joe. Hated 300, trust Snyder anyway.

JA said...

Nat, just a note on Rorschach's anti-liberal agenda - you really shouldn't agree with what anybody is saying in Watchmen (they're all basically unlikable assholes, to be honest) but you really really should not agree with what Rorschach goes on about. He's deranged.

brianmaru said...

I am skeptical about this. I worry that it will be like the first two Harry Potter movies, who try so hard to be faithful to every detail, it won't work as a movie. Also, I don't want three hours of Snyder's slow-mo action.

That said, love the book more than any story ever, so who knows. The source is so good maybe even an adequate take on it will be something special.

woodstock said...

i love the visuals from superhero movies. those that do beautiful cinematography catch me even i even like "elektra" because of how beautiful jennifer garner looked.

but reading this gave me another thrill about watching this movie. i've always heard about "watchmen" but never got curious to read it or about it. but now i feel like knowing it before watching the movie.

Hayden said...

Random, off-topic Best Actress thought (because I get these all the time):

Isn't it interesting how Winslet fanboys spent so long insisting that her role in The Reader was supporting that the only people who think she's in the correct category are the people who don't give her the win?

Kelsy said...

I just read the graphic novel and really enjoyed it. I'm not really into comics and superheroes, but The Watchmen take on the genre connected with me more than any other superhero stuff I've seen or read. I'm actually really excited to see this film, I just wonder how they'll incorporate all the in between chapter stuff that isn't a part of the main story, but informs it.

Casey Fiore said...

Forgive me if I'm wrong but wouldn't Moore need to sell the rights to the best before someone could make a movie of it? couldn't he have just not sold the rights?

brianmaru said...

Casey, Moore isn't the sole owner of the right's. DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Bros, another subsidiary, owns them.

Wayne B. said...

I'm preparing myself to dislike my movie since I love the novel so much. The ending is what I'm worried most about; hopefully the changes won't be that drastic. Took all my strength to NOT read Nathaniel's write-up on the preview he saw. Am patiently waiting til March!..... OK make that *impatiently*

JA said...

Also Nat, and to anyone who hasn't read the comic, I say this as a precautionary maneuver lest the movie suck: I do wish you'd read this before seeing the movie. I'd rather the book, the phenomenal book, be your original exposure to the full material. It's so intelligent and conflicting and complicated and layered and infuriating and wonderful; no matter what the film accomplishes I don't know that it could ever mine the depths that the book does.

Casey Fiore said...

thank brianmaru. that explains everything

Marshall said...

If this is high-quality, I would really not be surprised by a Best Picture nomination, especially after the DARK KNIGHT snub. It's the true dark horse.

Glendon said...

Hated 300, although I hear it was an almost perfect translation. Watchmen the book is great. Can't wait.

Tim said...

The book is just about my favorite work of literature in the last 25 years, it got me into comic books, most structurally interesting work of graphic storytelling ever, etc. etc. carrying way too much baggage to possibly hope or assume that the movie will be anything but the ugliest train wreck in cinema history.

I have never been this unexcited for a film that I'll be seeing at an opening day midnight screening.

Seconding JA's warning: IF YOU HAVEN'T READ WATCHMEN, DO IT NOW.

Pfangirl said...

Lining up... to specifically guzzle up all the eye candy at IMAX.

But I won't deny I'm feeling very nervous about seeing it - although not quite as nervous as I was about my most anticipated film of last year, the dud Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The Watchmen trailers have at least made me giddy with excitement in a way that glimpses of Indy and co. never did.

Brian said...

I used to know the screenwriter responsible for the adaptation, Alex Tse. He went to my elementary school and was friends with my younger brother at that time. Haven't seen him since, but I hope for everyone's sake that his writing chops are as good as the fanboys are hoping for.

Runs Like A Gay said...

As a graphic novel neophyte (although I did read Whizzer and Chips as a boy) I'm finding this whole Watchmen worship quite extraordinary.

Could someone tell me what it is about Watchmen that makes everyone so excited and why I should actually fork out some cash to see it? (Aside from the nifty trailer and the possibility of Wilson's bottom)

henry said...

If there was a line at my local movie theater, I'd be in it. I'm reading the novel (almost to the end, which I hear from various sources who attended the panel at New York Comic Con, has been altered) and am going to get my ticket as soon as humanly possible. I haven't even worn the souvenir t-shirt that I got at last year's San Diego Comic Con. I'm saving it for March 6th. What I can't decide on is whether or not to go to the sure-to-be-flooded midnight screening or to go after work on March 6th. Whoo!

Deborah said...

Lining up. I haven't much been reading the We Can't Wait series, actually, because I'm trying to wean myself from the anticipation-disappointment cycle. I'm trying to appreciate movies as they arrive rather than ruin them with over-anticipation. My new Zen Movie Watching.™

But Watchmen? Are you effing kidding me? OF COURSE I can't wait.

And I don't know what will be wrong or what will be right about it, but I do know that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is genius casting.

Carl said...

Remarkable, in my opinion, that even the naysayers, detractors, and those with the deepest of reservations are going to be exchanging sharp elbows with the fanboys for 12:01 am privileges. Is there a moviegoer out there who is not planning to see this in its first week of release? Sounds to me like the quintessential "WCW" movie...so why isn't it in single-digit placement?

I agree with Deborah that J.D. Morgan appears to be a great choice for the part, but I truly wish that Robert Downey, Jr. could have been talked into taking a shot at it.

And one more vote for 'read before seeing' - the eye candy in this film is going to be so intense that trying to follow this temporally-challenged storyline will be a major distraction without treating yourself to the print version beforehand.

NATHANIEL R said...

carl it wasn't on all five lists and it was hard to make the top ten without agreement across the board...

but i remain suspicious that this might not open as big as people are thinking.

i mean how many people really know this mythology the way people know Batman, SpiderMan, Superman, Iron Man, etcetera which have all had 40+ years to build their pop culture/cross generational appeal and drawing power.

JA said...

And even with known properties like Spider-Man or Batman, it's always the Part 2's that make the huge moolah; people don't flock in those sorts of insane numbers to the first films until they know what they're in for already.

That said, box-office-wise I think the film will do well. Certainly not at Dark Knight levels, but I don't think it'll be all geek hype like say Grindhouse ended up being because I do think the trailers are doing their job of promising visuals unlike anything anyone's seen before.