Random thoughts from an unusual company

What bugged me about Watchmen - WARNING, SPOILERS!

Tim Davis  12 March 2009 11:37:01
I wanted to talk about one example of how the Watchmen movie messed up, which illustrates how it lost all the finesse and style of the original, ending up as a brutish thug of a movie.


It is the catching of the bullet, which is one of my favourite parts of the comic and is a great bit about what makes Ozymandias cool/powerful.

The whole arc of this plot point starts back with the failed assassination attempt in the lobby. In the comic this is how the whole thing goes:

It is just Adrian and his secretary (no stupid captains of industry). The gunman shoots the secretary. Adrian takes him out with a pedestal. There are no other targets for the gunman to possibly hit. Just Adrian and the secretary.

Much later, during the final confrontation, Adrian is asked about having planned the assassination attempt. What if the gunman has shot at him first? He couldn't have guaranteed he'd shoot the secretary first. Adrian replies that he would just have to have caught the bullet. What? Can he catch bullets? How powerful is he?

A little later Laurie shoots him. He does this martial arts leap as she shoots. He is obviously catching the bullet. Did he catch it?

He lies there with his arm outstretched, bloodstains on chest, fist closed. Did he catch it? He opens his hand. There is the bullet.

He kicks Laurie and gets up, saying that it was something he wasn't sure would work. Very cool.

So, in the movie what to they do with this whole bit?

They throw away the meaning of the assassination attempt by having a bunch of new characters (characters not in the comic I might add) also get shot. There is much less risk to Adrian.

Then they introduce the idea of catching the bullet with a comment by one of the characters that he is 'rumoured' to be able to do it. You lose the "can he?"/"can't he?" threat of his boasting about it.

Finally, when he does catch the bullet, he catches it in the hand lying on his chest. This means that the reveal of the bullet can't be done until he has already moved his arm. This gives away the fact the caught it before you see the bullet, losing the immediate impact of just opening his fist.

Yep, they dropped the ball on this entirely. You end up with a by-the-numbers "superhero catching a bullet" bit that we've seen a million times elsewhere, and this sums up the whole movie. It was made by a journeyman director with no flair of his own, and no appreciation for the flair of the original.

I could go on with many more examples. I suppose an argument is having lack of time to include all these nuances, but then why waste minutes of screen time with extra characters, extra sex scenes, extra violence, and then pretend to claim you are trying to be true to the original? There's more to being true than faithful sets and costumes.


1Steve McDonagh  12/03/2009 15:58:39  What bugged me about Watchmen - WARNING, SPOILERS!

Yo Tim!

Couldn't agree more!

I think the problem not just with this but with most of the other comic/graphic novels that have made it to the big screen is that the directors use the orginal as "storyboards". Which is understandable, they are used to storyboards and the panel structure is just like what they get from their "creative" team.

The difference is that the storyboard defines a starting point for a shot in the movie, the actuality of the action is built up around the director's imagination the fiscal constraints of bean counters and the production values of the producers.

A panel in a graphic novel is a bridge that we the reader cross over to get from one part of the story to the next. It is the genius of Alan Moore that he can phrase a storyline in such a way that it matches perfectly the images that accompany it. The reader can fill in the action as they see fit, but in most cases the story flows seamlessly and effortlessly from one panel to the next, allowing the reader to be pulled along by the combined tidal force of both words and image.

And there is the rub. Some films try to gild the lily by adding and taking away from the original. In this case way way way to much has been taken away and the wrong bits have been gilded and what we are left with is a mishmash of gaudy visuals, gore and not really that much else.

Where is the re-evalution of "what is a superhero" that Moore and Gibbons pointed us towards in the orginal? What the hell is all that nonsense about power supplies?

This film failed for me on so many levels I for one will now return to the orginal and bask in the glory that this contrived Hollywood bollox tried to sully and failed in that too!



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