Better Late Than… Watchmen Review with guest star Patrick Kennedy (part two)

Didn’t read part one, click here stupid.
watchmen_babies
First, the Blue Penis was the bane of my existence.  I would also like to thank Billy Crudup for lying in an interview and saying that CGI penis was not his own, so I could go appreciating him as an actor who’s courage comes not from his trousers.
As far as how Watchmen effected my memory of the book… well i hadn’t read it in about 10 years and I intentionally stayed away from it when i heard it was an actual go picture.  I wanted to be as fuzzy as possible so I could enjoy the movie as is, but I found Zach bringing back scene after scene as if they were using the graphnov as the storyboards.  The opening sequence was one of the best pieces of adaptation problem solving I’d ever seen.  (BTW hands down winner for faithfulness goes to the Coens and No Country For Old Men.  I thought there was no way they were gonna end it like the book.)
Then it happened.  The end (SPOILERS ABOUND).  WHERE WAS THE EFFIN SQUID?  In a comic that had one of the greatest finishes in comic history there was no, none, nyet reason to fuck with it.  And also having Dr. Manhattan getting blamed?  Why?  WHEN YOU ALREADY HAD A SUPER SQUID THAT DESTROYS MANHATTAN!  It just baffled me that a movie so faithful would turn on the one scene that had the greatest visual possibilities.  I actually had to go to B+N to confirm with the book the movie ending was complete (well mild) fabrication.  Sure it could have been nine times worse, but I guess I just took it personally that one of the few times my jaw had been dropped in comics to find it fucked with is all.
The other reason I thought Zach and the boys had stayed a lil too faithful was in the script.  Any kid reading Syd Field, knows reading dialogue and speaking dialogue are different different beasts.  Some of the lines, which I know were lifted straight from the panels, were cringe worthy on camera.
I also think the reason the movie doesn’t resonate as well was because, as my wife’s out it upon exiting the theater was, “That would have made two great movies.”  I think if somehow ZS can get 160 mil to make an unmakeable comic that least he could do is bleed it dry for every penny and Kill Bill that thing. I mean 3 very intense hours could have easily been expanded to 4 and cut in twain.  I think it was all just too big for the medium.
I think it may be an epidemic of most graphic novels.  Unlike books, the fanbases are so rabid that changing anything cause an internet furor, so then you either bite the bullet or in comes the cram session.  I think the best example of this was Batman Begins and Hellboy 2.  Nolan and Guillermo just took the ball and ran with it.  They made tough decisions and made the comic fit the movie and not the other way around.  But since that wasn’t an option he should have gone the Peter Jackson route, and just made two movies, getting the fanboys to pay twice and slopped up on the extended addition DVD’s.  But that’s just one man’s opinion.  (Or they could just do neither, isn’t that right WANTED?)
Btw, has anyone else mentioned you bare a striking resembelance to Patrick Wilson?  Especially in the movie.  I think it was the hair.  Which reminds me.  I wish he was fatter in the movie.  That was a perfect role to put on 20 or so for.
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very superhero mmmmmm

very superhero mmmmmm

Patrick:

I’ve actually gotten that lately, the Nite Owl thing, which is weird that it’s so apparent to those few people.  I think a lot of it is the hair and the glasses, but Patrick Wilson’s not a bad looking dude so honestly I’ll take whatever comparisons I can get.  So far, I’ve heard the comparison on three separate occasions.  A few days after the film’s release, my girlfriend’s cousin came over to the apartment to, uh, play Rock Band.  When I answered the door, his eyes got big and he exclaimed, “Dude!  You look exactly like Nite Owl!”  To which I could only smile and shrug politely, having not seen the film yet.  The week after that, I saw the film with my girlfriend and a couple friends.  As soon as Patrick Wilson came onscreen, everyone I was with looked at me and starting laughing.  Every Nite Owl scene after that was all wink-wink nudge-nudge in my direction.  Then last night while bartending, two college-aged kids just had to tell me I look just like Nite Owl.  In their words, it wasn’t a bad thing because he kicks lots of ass and gets with Silk Spectre.  Which then made me revisit that awkward sex scene in my mind and shutter, like it was the first time all over.

But I have to agree (and this isn’t a backwards compliment, please believe me) that Patrick Wilson should’ve gained more weight for the role because he was a bit too fit and handsome for the role.  In the comic, Dan Dreiberg was an aging superhero and looked the part, much like the way retired athletes and astronauts look in the days past their prime.  His illustrated persona was schlubby, shuffling and somewhat pathetic, as he chooses to live out his remaining years reminiscing about the good old days and polishing his old hovercraft and costume.  With an actor like Wilson, in his sleek physical state anyway, I feel like the audience loses a lot of the pity that the readers would’ve felt for Dreiberg in the comic.  Instead of spending his time polishing his keepsakes, movie-version Nite Owl obviously spent his days doing crunches and high-level cardio just biding time until he gets naked for the camera.  It’s a leap to expect movies to completely follow a book’s aesthetic and feel, especially when actors are involved, but some extra schlub would’ve got a long way in audience sympathy.

I think that’s another part of the film that bothered me: the lack of overall depth which left some of the characters as simple means to an end rather than fleshed-out and human.  I like your point on the stinted cut-and-paste dialogue, which I feel was another key factor in keeping a solid barrier between the story and its underlying emotions.  Some from-page-to-screen direct translations ended up being rather effective, such as Dr. Manhattan’s time-jumping retread of his post-accident romantic relationships.  That was one of my absolute favorite sections in the book, and an exemplary example of great storytelling through panel layout, so it ended up as an easy storyboard for Synder and crew and a lay-up of a scene in the end.  Another easy example would be Rorschach’s memories of when he stopping caring about humanity, on the child murderer case.  Any sections that were more dialogue-driven and less visual seems to lack the punch those same sections delivered in the original book.

And speaking of visuals, yes, what in blue blazes happened to the most WTF-ish visual in the source material, the materialized Giant Squid?!  Due to my daily intake of Google Reader, I already knew the squid wasn’t part of the ending, so I was ready for that, but blaming the whole thing on Dr. Manhattan felt too neat.  I read that Snyder took the ending from one of David Hayter’s original scripts, as a way to simplify the story and allow more screen time for character development.  Which I get.  But it cheapens an astonishing complex and ambitious story to send everyone on their way with a clear and defined path.  This is a problem that befalls every book-to-movie project, and with a fanboy-embraced golden cow as shiny as Watchmen, there was no way to wholly satisfy the faithful.  But yet I still wanted it to be, I don’t know, more.  To go back to my Facebook status update, this film made me love the book even more in a way I stubbornly hold dear with every piece of geek culture that makes it to the mainstream in another form: I hoped that the movie would be good enough to drive more people to the book and help shine a light on one of the absolute pinnacles of the comic-book form.  And I certainly believe it’s good enough to do that, without a doubt it resonated with audiences to the tune of many millions of dollars and nearly-assured DVD riches.  But am I hopelessly naive to think that people will appreciate and come to love the things I treasure?  Or should I instead hope my nerd-loves will stay in the cave forever?  Does it even matter either way?

And to turn things over on less of a downer-note, what’s your take on the IMAX phenomenon?  I had fucked up getting tickets to see it in IMAX and was forced (FORCED, I say) to see it in regular olde cinema version.  But unlike Batman Begins, there was no part of the production that was shot in IMAX, so you’re really getting just an upcoverted version on big speakers and a bigger screen.

Also…do you foresee any spinoffs in the future?

-pat-

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