Random thoughts from an unusual company

Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

Gabriella Davis  11 March 2009 20:54:47
We skipped off work at 4.15 today to rush to the Cinema for the 4.30 showing of Watchmen.  Luckily there was 30 mins worth of ads and trailers as we didn't get there until 4.45.  Tim is a huge comic collector and has the original comics bought in the 80s, he has told me the plot before but always discouraged me from reading it saying it was too 'hard core' comic for me.

As a non reader of the comic (or any comics) I hated it.  Hated it.  I have a fairly strong stomach for violence and I don't know the last time I saw a film that made me feel queasy about an hour in when I reached my maximum capacity for it and thereafter every fight scene or dismembering made it worse.  Luckily I knew the plot but if you don't know the plot going in you're not going to understand what the hell is going on or why.

As a comic reader, Tim found it grim and dull (direct quote).  He also came straight home, grabbed the comics and pointed out all the places where the violence wasn't in the comic and yet was in the film.

Yet again the filmmakers fail to understand that books (and I include literate comics) are a very different medium from movies and you can't just map one across to the other without restructuring the characters and plot.  In a book you have time to learn a character and understand their backstory and motivation as well as what drives them during the course of the story.  In a film the character has to arrive fully formed, his every action easy to reason.  You also have to take one key thread of a story and follow it through, unlike in a book where you have the luxury of having several.

If you haven't read the comic and are thinking of seeing the film, do yourself a favour and read the comic (available as a graphic novel).  

1John Vaughan  11/03/2009 21:22:20  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

so i'm curious about the violence. there is a kind i can deal with and a kind i can't.

for instance i think it was the film Goodfellas, well honestly i don't even want to type what they showed in that film. i have a deep and abiding allergy to any film made by martin scorsese ever since.

i've been curious about Watchmen and ordered the book and am reading it. i want to get through it before i see the film. but not if the violence is Goodfellas style.

what do you think?

2Gab Davis  11/03/2009 21:40:03  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

@John .. I had no problem with Goodfellas at all. I did find the last scene of Casino nasty but then it was one scene. The problem with Watchmen (the film) was the layer upon layer of violence. Each individual set piece was tolerable to me (if over the top) but one after another after another was far too much.

I'd say stay away from the film. It delivers nothing above and beyond the comic. Tim says (looking through the comic as we speak) - it's boggling what is left out of the film.

3John Vaughan  11/03/2009 22:07:20  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

thanks Gab.

makes me a little sad but i think i will skip it. i might try the DVD when it comes out (i can be stubborn about these things sometimes), but at least then i can turn it off.

it may be Casino i was thinking of. the two brothers, at the end. whichever one that was.

i know many artists will defend the rights of directors to portray the world as it is and that is OK but it's not for me when it comes to violence.

i found this to be an interesting read and is why i am reading the graphic novel now:

{ Link }

thanks again. :-)

4Gab Davis  11/03/2009 22:18:07  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

@John - yep that's Casino. I was at the London Film Festival when it was shown as the opening film. Scorcese introduced it to this audience all dressed up to the nines and said "I'll leave now before it starts, when you see the end you'll understand why".! From our seats up in the nosebleeds we could see people rushing for the exits all the way through.

Thanks for the link. I went from there to their review of the film, it makes the point I was trying to make about transitioning from one medium to another, but much better than I did.

5Lars Olufsen  11/03/2009 22:51:53  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

Alan Moore is a genious. The Watchmen graphic novels are brilliant. It's a fantastic universe to delve into and let your mind surf freely.

It is also COMPLETELY unfilmable. It would take hours and hours of - for lack of a better word - "boring" scenes to really portray the characters.

Instead, it has been turned into an overly violent (not that the graphic novels are not violent) "superhero" movie.

Let's face it. The Watchmen novels aren't exactly mainstream. It's not your everyday Spiderman or even X-men comic book. It never was and it will never be.

It is hardcore nerdness for the few, and that is not the audience it caters for. Will there be kids coming out of the cinema in awe? Quite likely! Will there be kids coming out of the cinema in disgust? Absolutely!

Will there be kids running to the comic book store to pick up the original books as well as the movie adaptation? I sure hope so!

Don't put your Watchmen experience in the hands of Zach Snyder. Trust Alan Moore to tell the story that is after all his.

The Watchmen movie = #epic fail

But hey ... X-Men Origins is coming ... and The Avengers ... and ... life can still be good in comicbook movie land. :-)

6John Head  12/03/2009 01:25:06  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

I read the comics before the graphic novel came out. I have the graphic novel. I consider it my second favorite piece of writing ever, only behind Lord of the Rings. And I LOVED the movie.

Yes it is different. Yes it is more violent. But only because the violence needs to be turned up to get the point across. Watchmen has a violent thread throughout the whole thing. To me, the prison scene was gory but not bad, but the scene with the pool table (trying not to spoil it) was disturbing. And even more because of how they changed the end based on the outcome of the pool table / billards table. ?

That being said - Zach Synder was the only director willing to make The Watchmen as Alan Moore created. Every other director wanted to change the entire thing - cut major pieces, remove characters, update it for the war on terror vs the cold war. He stood up and made the movie as close as he could.

Of course there will be diff opinions. I told Alan Lepofsky as we walked out of the theaters that I could see why someone who has never read it would hate the movie. It is told in flashbacks - and so much of the character background is implied.

Sorry you guys didn't like it - to me it was a brilliant experience in showcasing why comics are some of the best literary forms on the planet

7Dean Starcevic  12/03/2009 02:32:23  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

WOW! I can't believe you disliked it that much, I really enjoyed the movie! I did however know going into it, that the movie that it was dark, gory and violent.

I hope you at least knew that Zack Snyder directed "Watchmen" before you went. He also directed the comic movie "300" which was dark, gory, and violent, as well as the the horror movie "Dawn of the Dead".

That said, I agree that a couple of scenes could have been toned down a little, and the middle of the movie was a little slow. Overall though, the cinematography, plot, visual effects and cast all made it worthwhile. I had downloaded the iphone app and watched the exclusive making of/ behind the scenes footage. If you have an iphone I highly recommend it! Granted it won't change your mind, but you might develop a different level of appreciation for the work and attention to detail that went into making the movie.

Considering the Watchmen was once called the unfilmable comic book, I think they did a great job! For what its worth, my wife also liked the movie, loved the music and visual effects, didn't care for dark theme, and closed her eyes during the gore.


8Nathan T. Freeman  12/03/2009 03:36:16  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

Must be an American thing. I thought it was brilliant. I longed for the comic's ending, simply because it was even more devilishly clever. But the movie was still phenomenal.

I regarded the movie as far more sexual than violent.

I'd like to say that I think it'll be the best movie of 2009.... but the Star Trek reboot is probably going to send me into convulsive ecstasy, so I'll have to wait and see.

9Gab Davis  12/03/2009 09:51:33  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

ah - clearly I hadn't allowed for the Nerdgasm effect :-)

I won't argue the visual impressiveness nor the soundtrack - just that if I had time to notice both during the film, it clearly wasn't engaging me enough. Anytime I'm watching a film and thinking "hey this music is really good" something has gone badly wrong.

@John - I'm sorry I don't buy after all the great critical reviews Watchmen has got, even having been selected as one of the must read books of the last 20 years, that this violent, soft core porn, misogynistic nonsense will win over any new readers who aren't into violent, soft core porn misogynistic nonsense :-). Oh and try telling Hitchcock you have to 'up' the violence to get the point across - honestly!

I have the greatest respect for comic books and those that read them - I did after all marry a huge fan and have given over an entire room in our house to 30,000+ comics. Comics like Watchmen, Sandman and Dark Knight Returns don't need films to validate them. Just think of yourselves as a select group of discerning readers who get what other's are missing.

10Steve McDonagh  12/03/2009 12:52:16  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

Have to say I am up there with Gab and Lars on this. Whilst the Comic/Graphic novel was Alan Moore and his epic hair at his finest the movie was a nicely dressed but overlong heap of crap that tries to hide the true nature of its fecal character and total lack of depth of characters behind nice shiny effects, uber violence and the masturbatory fantasies of the director.

It is yet another in a long line comic based total wank to come out of Hollywood and will be consigned to the same toilet as DareDevil, Judge Dredd, Tank Girl and Elektra.

Lets hope Snyder never gets to grips with Sandman!!

Epic 5 star total #FAIL FAIL FAIL

11Gab Davis  12/03/2009 12:57:45  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

@Steve .. give me Coraline anyday :-)

12Steve McDonagh  12/03/2009 16:18:04  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

Aye indeed nothing like curling up with a Gaiman - mind you i am planing a visit to "off" broadway for the musical if it lasts as long as June or July. Now that will be either really really poo or stunning i dont think there is room for any middle ground!

13Devin Olson  16/03/2009 19:26:20  Watchmen - A Deeply Unpleasant 3 Hours

My thoughts about this movie are posted on my blog (warning: Rated R): { Link }