Saturday, March 07, 2009

Watchmen film, a faithful adaptation... to a certain degree.

Before seeing the movie, I tried to convince myself to have low expectations for Zack Snyder's Watchmen so that I wouldn't be disappointed after seeing the film, especially having just read the Watchmen book several days prior.

I soon realized my expectations for this adaptation were quite high -- fresh from experiencing the written Watchmen, I was surprised by what had been cut, altered, and tailored from the book. My immediate reaction was, WTF? Turns out I was more attached to the source material than I had previously thought, and seeing it play out on screen the way Snyder had envisioned, had me sort of squirming in my seat at times. I expected more from the film.

As the end credits rolled, I immediately turned to a friend who had also read Watchmen, and expressed my, dare I say, disappointment, in how much was missing, and how much the audience wasn't getting from watching the movie -- who the majority of people most likely never read the book, and are only seeing the movie because of the hype surrounding it.

The film succeeds in that sense, introducing those who are unfamiliar with Watchmen to the bare-bones of Alan Moore's superhero epic. It's a good adaptation, it is just lacking much of the details that makes Watchmen so amazing.

For a film adaptation, Zack Snyder's Watchmen is as true as it could have been to the material, given the complexity of the narrative structure in book form. Which is something that I need to get over, because this isn't the book. It will never be the book. The book is a book for a reason, and the movie is a movie for a reason. The film lacks a certain depth that makes the Watchmen universe what it is. The film conveys the gist of the situation, and the characters, but leaves out a lot of detail that resonated with readers, the much needed 'human' element.

My two other friends who came along to the Friday night screening, had never read the book, so they came in with a fresh perspective on the movie. They were able to follow along without thinking about the book, but you could say they weren't as passionate about the ideas within the film, because well, without reading the book, there's no way that a film-goer would truly get the same feeling about the material.

Especially given the time constraints of the film. I felt the movie wasn't long enough, and I felt like everything was being sped up. Again, reading a book at your own pace adds a personal experience, while a movie forces you to move along without the ability to flip back, re-read, absorb or reflect on a previous page. Snyder, takes the relevant points from the book, and sticks to it, which is why it feels sort of clinical.

If anything, this movie should inspire those film viewers to read the book!


I especially hate it when, characters from the book only make very brief screen appearances, and are only recognizable to those who read the source material. What's the point of having these characters appear if they aren't going to be doing anything but standing there? Fan service? Hardly. It is more insulting if anything, to have secondary characters of the book reduced to 'extras'. Case in point, the Newspaper stand guys Bernard, and Bernie who are seen in two shots, and the Pirate comics have been removed completely.

Other things that disappointed me were the visual recreations of things like Adrian's Antarctic complex which was nothing like the Bio-dome in the book. The way he killed off his crew sucked as well. Also, Rorschach, and Nite Owl never used their cruiser devices to traverse the snow on the way to Adrian's hideout, which would have been a nice touch if the filmmakers bothered to create a new design. Instead the two characters walked in the snow.

Also Dr. Malcolm Long, was never shown having a home life, with his wife who hated losing her husband to the Rorschach case. And prior to the attack on the city, Dr. Long never intervened on the lesbian couples argument happening in the streets. There was no lesbian couple arguing. This scene in the book in particular showed people uniting to help total strangers, despite their companions demands to stay out of other people's business. These two scenes showed humanity, and the changing view of characters before the destruction of the city. It would have been a nice addition.

No giant squid either. No Dr. Manhattan walking on water, or transcending to godly state. No final sex scene either. lol

The depiction of Seymour at the end was also a disappointment, looking more like a stereotypical comic nerd, than an overweight Jimmy Olson, whose boss editor Hector Godfrey, didn't come off as mean as in the book. I think that was Snyder's way of saying, 'this movie is going to please all comic nerds'. Yeah right.

If it is one thing that really impressed me about the movie, and what made the material come to life, it was the opening credits. HAHA.

It's a good entertaining adaptation, just not entirely what I expected.

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