Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sorry about the delay in posting, but I’ve been ill.

Mark “Dogboy,” his lovely wife Kathy and their nephew Mark joined Mary and I for a screening of “Watchmen” on Saturday afternoon and the result was Mary and Kathy hating the film – Mary declaring it the worst film he has ever seen – with nephew Mark also expressing his loathing.

Dogboy gave it a qualified thumbs up and for me it joined the ranks of films I’ve glad to have seen but never want to see again.

Here’s the problem with the film: it is a very close adaptation which means, as my buddy Steve Bissette pointed out in a post-game wrap-up between us, means it has all of the comic book’s weaknesses as well as its strengths.

The principal strength of the book was Moore’s amping up the superhero with feet of clay that Stan Lee and company had done so well with at Marvel for the 20 years that preceded Moore’s comic. I’m sure when “Watchmen” debuted, people snickered about Nite Owl being a slightly disguised Batman. After “The Dark Knight,” though, revisionist views of the character ended this titillation.

The problem is that while comic book fans can appreciate what Moore did, movie fans have already seen plenty of films with flawed heroes. The question is whether or not “Watchmen” can appeal to an audience outside the core fanboys. My guess is no. The film first fails in setting up characters with which most audience members can identify. When the twisted abuse case Rorschach is the most likable guy in the bunch, you know you have a problem.

The movies also fails in satisfying questions about who these characters are, why they are superheroes, what are their powers – other than wearing a costumed and beating the crap out of people or shooting them. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias was super.

Are these nit-picking concerns –perhaps, but this is a superhero movie and people are expecting certain narrative elements, such as a description of the characters.

The gore in the film was completely unjustified. To me “Watchman” is both a violent story in action, but even more violent story in emotion. There was no need for director Zack Snyder to show gore scenes.

The famed giant alien squid is missing at the end for a conclusion that is more logical, but still ultimately depressing. Ozymandias must destroy the village to save it, which to me isn’t a sign of hope and new beginnings, but a power grab. Am I supposed to feel some relief the world is now at peace?

Although the film is beautifully realized, it is a museum piece at delivery and an example of a director and screenwriter who failed to see the shortcomings of “the world’s greatest graphic novel.”

© 2009 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

1 comment:

Mark Martin said...

Whew. I am so glad I swore off these things! (That was me, once again appearing as the perplexing "becky" nom last post... or the one before...)