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The Third Estate
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I Watched The Watchmen

Monday, March 09, 2009
So what did I think of the movie? I'm really not sure. I've never seen a work of fiction adapted so faithfully from one genre to another. Watching The Lord of the Rings, it was easy to mentally separate the books from the movie and appreciate the latter as a distinct creative product. Viewing Watchmen, however, I began to wonder whether the makers of the film feared being jumped in the street by purists wearing Rorschach costumes. An eerie proportion of the dialogue and pictures were lifted directly from the comic books. So it's very difficult for me to evaluate how someone who hasn't read the comics is going to perceive the movie.

To the specifics. The casting was excellent, with the exception of Ozymandias. I thought the introduction brilliantly captured an enormous amount of background material in a very short period of time. I think that the changed ending worked perfectly well, from a storytelling perspective. The film effectively translated the basic structure of the story and the characters - better than I had hoped.

But....

Many of us were skeptical that Watchmen could be made into a film. So much of the series was explicitly about comics, both in form and substance, that it was difficult to see how to interpret into a different medium. For example, movies generally need a linear storyline, and Watchmen most certainly did not. And here is where I think the movie got into trouble. The Comedian seemed to disappear from the second half of the film, and relatedly the big revelation at the end (which I won't spoil if you don't know it) lost much of its emotional power because the film took a fairly strict linear approach. As a consequence, the climax seemed a little clunky.

Having said that, I like the movie very much. I could quibble about a few lines that were cut or awkwardly moved, but one has to make allowances. I got the pleasure of seeing Rorschach tell his fellow inmates that he wasn't trapped in jail with them - they were trapped in jail with him. That moment alone made everything worth it.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 12:32 PM
2 Comments:
  • It's been 10 years since I read The Watchmen, so my memories of the original are fuzzy. I have mixed feelings about the movie, except for the opening sequence, which was WONDERFUL. I think the guy playing Rorshach--his name escapes me at the moment--was absolutely, perfectly cast.

    By Blogger Leslie M-B (trillwing), at 12:36 PM  
  • Yeah, the opening was great and the ending was weak, but on balance I give it a B+. I thought the guys actors for Rorschach, the Comedian, and Dr. Manhattan were all top notch. Too bad they didn't cast someone stronger as Laurie Jupiter - she's a fascinatingly broken yet still strong character.

    By Blogger Arbitrista, at 3:46 PM  
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