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10 Things I Hated About The Watchmen Movie

Okay, now I’ve had time to think about all the things that really annoyed me about the Watchmen movie. Let’s see how much I can contradict this!

1. Comedian being the Kennedy Assassin (or at least one of them)- Just seems pointless, especially since the rest of the movie establishes how much of a bastard he was. The fact that they don’t mention Jon not being able to stop it was also annoying. I remember that as being a very poignant part of his story.

2. All of the pictures of Silk Specter in Comedian’s apartment- Maybe it’s having knowledge of the original, but it seems like that (and Laurie having the flashback to her parents arguing in her first scene) really telegraphed the big reveal about Comedian being Laurie’s dad. I did like that they played up Silk Specter 1′s status as a pin-up as much as they did (her being on the side of the bomber that dropped the atomic bomb, for instance, really plays up how intertwined the original masks were with history).

3. Hollis Mason disappearing after the first hour or so- I kept expecting them to at least mention his death in that bar scene after Rorschach was busted out of jail. And yes, I know it will be a DVD extra now. Still doesn’t make that any less annoying.

4. How compressed it was- Yes, I know why they had to do it and can accept it on a logical level. It’s still pretty annoying. Hopefully someone will do a 12 part mini-series on HBO someday.

5. Dan’s melodramatic response Rorschach’s death- On the one hand, it was always weird in the book that he never seemed to give a damn about what happened to Rorschach, so that was a nice touch; although he was a little busy having “Holy shit, we just saw a man commit mass murder to save the world and are totally freaking out” sex with Laurie at the time. Can’t blame him there. Still, it was a little much, especially after he started beating on Ozymandias. I did like that Ozy just stood there and took it. That was one of the few nice touches with him.

6. The guy who was playing Nixon was really bad at playing Nixon- Or, at least the Nixon I’m familiar with. Which would be the one from Futurama. Still, it was kind of like that bit at the end of Wayne’s World 2; couldn’t Dr. Manhattan showed up and transmuted him in to a better actor? I’d probably hate him even more if I’d seen Frost/Nixon by now.

7. Jon not delivering the “Nothing ever ends” line- That was such a great moment in the comics, especially with Adrian’s reaction. Before Laurie said it, I was wondering if they cut it just so people wouldn’t expect a sequel. That could be why they had Laurie deliver it as a throwaway line.

And now, because I’ve run out of things that seriously bothered me, some nitpicks!

8. I’ve had “The Times They Are A-Changing”” in my head all weekend- Because I didn’t annoy Cronin enough by crediting Gerard Way for writing “Desolation Row”.It’s not necessarily that I dislike Dylan; I just like his songs better when other people are singing them. Mainly Jimi Hendrix. So, it was nice to hear his version of “All Along the Watchtower”. That said:

9. As good as the soundtrack was, it came across like superhero Forest Gump sometimes, especially when they used “All Along the Watchtower”- Hendrix seemed a little too bombastic for Watchmen to me, even if that was supposed to be a big, exciting scene.

10. All of the detail lost from the book to the movie- I mentioned this in my review of/rambling reaction paper to the movie on Friday. That’s the biggest problem with the movie; it wasn’t, and couldn’t ever be, the book. It will never stand up in a battle of apples and oranges. Some of that is the meticulous craftsmanship of Moore and Gibbons, and the fact that they worked in a medium that could accommodate the scope of what they wanted to do. Snyder had around 3 hours to try and do that justice and still make a film that could be a blockbuster.

Bonus hated on thing:

11. The fight scenes were too slick- It’s a dumb thing to complain about considering that the guy whose biggest hit was a movie that was mostly a long, slick fight scene, but still; it bugged me. Especially when Rorschach kept doing well against the cops after jumping out of the window.

Caveat: Given how dense a work Watchmen is, I’m sure there are elements of the book that have been omitted or bastardized that I haven’t even picked up on my handful of readings. Feel free to point them out (and mock my lack of critical fu) in the comments!

Beyond that, the book just means so much to me (and legions of others). The movie could never work for me as anything other than reflections of all the things that I loved about the book, and how much it changed how I looked at superheroes (and comics in general). I’m wondering if the movie will have the same impact on people who haven’t read the comic. Will it change the way they look at anything, or the than the GN itself, if they happen to pick it up after seeing the movie? Will anyone prefer the movie? And, will we have to round them up at midnight and put them to work in a heart attack factory? Are we going to have create one of those just to house these theoretical heretics?

61 Comments

I just wanna say that I thought using “all along the watch tower” when they did was a nice as that was the quote that closed out that chapter of the comic.

I didn’t like how it looked like most of the heroes had super-strength. Ozy throwing around Nite Owl & Rorschach in their fight scene, Comedian punching holes through walls, stuff like that. It really looked fake and Matrixy, not like stuff supposed “normal” people could do.

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 8, 2009 at 2:33 pm

“…. not like stuff supposed “normal” people could do.”

Umm, I do believe that the WATCHMEN was all about not like stuff that “normal” people could do.
I mean do “normal” people dress up in costumes to fight crime in the first place? ;-)

We all knew that there were going to be some creative liberties taken to make the movie, but at least about 90 percent of the graphic novel was in the movie, and the remaining 10 percent was either deleted or changed or compressed to keep the movie length under 3 hrs.

I thought one of the biggest flaws was that they left out most of Veidt’s backstory. The movie didn’t really explain what lead him to do what he did, so his character and the whole finale felt kinda flat. (Also, even though Veidt actually killed more people in the movie, the massacre felt kinda too neat and bloodless, especially compared to all those splash pages full of corpses in the comic.) Despite its length the movie never felt boring, so they could’ve easily added 20 minutes more to make Veidt a more interesting character. Giving Veidt less screen time also meant that the movie kinda missed one of the biggest ironies in the comic, i.e. that the “villain” (depending on your interpretation) is a well-meaning left-wing pacifist, and the “hero” a reactionary right-wing bigot. They also left out most of Rorschach’s more extreme right-wing comments, which further diluted the contrast between him and Veidt.

Didn’t the comic book strongly hint that the Comedian was involved with the Kennedy assassination, if not actually the shooter? Or am I confusing it with some other comic?

I was annoyed by how the nonpowered heroes all seemed superhuman, taking blows that would kill almost anyone multiple times and coming back for more. The amped-up violence was my biggest criticism of the film; it seemed so unnecessary, and the gore was really no fun. A key element of the book was that the normal-human characters may have been in better shape and well-trained, but they were still portrayed as largely within the bounds of human capabilities.

My full review is here.

I liked The Comedian’s little throw-away line about how he hasn’t “had this much fun since Woodward & Bernstein.” Was that in the comic? I didn’t recall it.

“Comedian being the Kennedy Assassin (or at least one of them)- Just seems pointless, especially since the rest of the movie establishes how much of a bastard he was.”

Not only that, but when Comedian is fighting the demonstrators with Night Owl, he says to him that he hasn’t had that much fun “since Woodward and Bernstein”. Now, this means either that Comedian is very careless, or that Night Owl knows Blake killed Woodward and Bernstein, but chooses to ignore it. And neither interpretation quite fits those two characters.

Haha, posted that simultaneously with Dan.

Reviews are always better when the names of major characters or their costumed identities are spelled correctly. It gives the work more legitimacy. Please use more than spell check before publishing next time.

I seem to recall both the Kennedy assassination and the Watergate scandal being at least hinted in the book. I don’t think it was totally out of the left field.

Yeah, they were both hinted in the comic. But Comedian flat out admitting to Dan that he killed Woodward and Bernstein makes no sense, because at least in theory Dan could rat on him. I know that in the world of Watchmen W & B never became as famous as in the real world because they were killed before they had the chance to publish the Watergate case, but you’d still assume the murder of two prominent journalists would’ve made the news, so Dan could’ve easily connected Blake’s comment to those murders.

My biggest problem was Zack Snyder’s subtle interpretations/alterations of the characters that any fan could tell you were just plain wrong.

For instance, when Jon and Laurie are having sex, Jon’s line when Laurie freaks out is in the book akin to “I thought you’d like this” however in the film he says “I thought you liked this,” indicating that he had done this to her before and she enjoyed it, which destroys her motivation for being freaked out if this was not a new thing. The book got it right, and the movie screwed it up for no reason.

This is the same for the initial Dan and Laurie fight against the knot tops. Why did they smile at the beginning, they were worried about being killed. And then why did they kill those guys? These things didn’t condense the movie, they just altered it in a negative way.

The same as when Rorschach grabs that guys hands and in the film says “Your hands, my pleasure” whereas in the book he says “Your hands, my perspective.” I could’ve sworn that Rorschach was pretty unemotional, and wouldn’t take pleasure in such a thing,

Snyder was the perfect man to be in charge of the visuals of this movie, but the wrong one to interpret the actions and lines and motivations of the characters. I feel like if all the lines and performances were the same but weren’t paired with amazing visuals we’d be complaining about them much more.

But Dan also knows The Comedian was working for the government…maybe he knew he really COULDN’T say anything about it. Hell, he does realize at the end he can’t say anything about Veidt’s plan…not hard to imagine he’d keep quiet about some government killings, especially if he thought he’d be targeted if he did speak up.

The thing I hated most was the rape scene. In the book it was shocking and brutal but the over the topness in the film mixed with the rubbish stylistic fighting ruined the shock completly. A lot of people were laughing in the cinema at that scene before they all went quiet after realising what was happening. Also without hinting the hooded justice was gay made the does this get you off line fall completly flat. Oh and the Silk Spectres where completly flat but thats a whole other thing.

“1. Comedian being the Kennedy Assassin (or at least one of them)- Just seems pointless, especially since the rest of the movie establishes how much of a bastard he was. The fact that they don’t mention Jon not being able to stop it was also annoying. I remember that as being a very poignant part of his story.”

In the novel, the Comedian makes a joke about not asking him what he was doing in Dallas the day JFK was shot; another character brings up the fact that the Comedian was in Dallas that day along with Nixon. The book all but points the finger at him as one of the shooters.

“9. As good as the soundtrack was, it came across like superhero Forest Gump sometimes, especially when they used “All Along the Watchtower”- Hendrix seemed a little too bombastic for Watchmen to me, even if that was supposed to be a big, exciting scene.”

To each his own. That moment gave me a chill, since the use of “Watchtower” was exactly as I heard it in my head when reading the book.

@Heller

YES! Thank you. Out of all the scenes, that stood out in my mind as a sore thumb. I can understand that level of graphic violence for Rorshach, but for Nite Owl and Silk Spectre? Why DID they kill those guys? If one got shot by accident from a stray bullet, I can buy that, but Silk Spectre stabbing a guy in his neck then using his body as a shield? That entire fight was nothing but shock value.

Other nit-pick? Doc Manhattan exploding everyday thugs. In one of the flashback scenes when he first appeared they showed a quick flash of him blowing up two mafia looking guys and then his picture being in a newspaper. Yeah, I get that he’s becoming more distant, but it seemed weird that no one seemed to have a problem with it.

All in all, I found a lot of the gore gratuitious and unnecessary.

PS. I didn’t hate the movie, but there are very few outlets to nitpick without being attacked and it feels good to get that off my chest.

“10. All of the detail lost from the book to the movie- I mentioned this in my review of/rambling reaction paper to the movie on Friday. That’s the biggest problem with the movie; it wasn’t, and couldn’t ever be, the book.”

And you should have gone into the film expecting this as I did.
Watchmen is my favorite piece of fiction.
I’ve been re-reading it since the day issue #1 came out, and I even managed to make it into the opening montage!
I’m the bald guy dragging away Moth Man.
But I walked into it expecting an action movie take on Watchmen and thats what I got.
Why anybody would walk into Watchmen thinking that they’re going to get the book, is beyond me.

For what the movie is its great.
And its Watchmen turned into an action Superhero movie.

As for the JFK thing just like everybody said here, the comedian was indeed suggested to have killed him, and I think it was even confirmed in the DC Heroes mayfair sourcebook that Moore provided additional details for.

I would have loved if the prison scene was a little more Oldboyish and not so 300, but you know, Zack Snyder.

Overall, I’ll gladly accept it as a good film based on a great book.

I didn’t like that they left out a sizable portion of Rorschach’s origin. No reference at all was made to Kitty Genovese or where his mask came from.

One thing that made me cringe is the part where Dan and Laurie cross Walter Kovacks in the street and there’s a shot of him, and then a shot of Dan looking back. Why couldn’t it be a long shot with the guy just standing there, waiting for the watcher to notice on second viewing? Why does every clever detail have to be a close up? That’s indicative of everything I hate about Snyder’s directing, both in style and in substance.

Beta Ray Steve

March 8, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Considering the amount of exposition this film had to deliver, it was great. The old tunes they used may have seemed Gumpish, but they grounded the movie in the reality people recognize.

Omar Karindu, back from an Internet Thogal ritual

March 8, 2009 at 5:26 pm

While Zack Snyder would be far from my (and many peoples’) choice for the material, at a certain level adapting Watchmen is like filming any other work so wedded to a non-cinematic medium in terms of fidelity and detail loss. No one’s ever been able to film Ulysses properly, though it’s been tried a few times; and I wouldn’t want to so much as think about a film version of a more formally difficult work like Gravity’s Rainbow or pretty much any narrative poem (Beowulf, anyone?).

I tend to think the best way to adapt works to the screen — good works in their original media, anyway — is the “inspired by” approach. This can even radically elevate some material: as a book, The Godfather is an ambitious potboiler; as a film, it became a tour de force of the New Hollywood style and changed a great deal in both the subgenre of the gangster film and the more general notion of how dramatic movies might work.

Watchmen really can’t ever be adapted in full, for all the obvious reasons. Even with generous running time or a miniseries format , a filmmaker would have to fudge the multiple layers of overlapping dialogue and captions in spots. A written caption or static image can’t hang on the screen long enough to “match” the speed of spoken dialogue without screwing up the visual pacing; and multiple overlapping spoken parts are discrete on the page but unfathomable in the ear. And despiute Ang Lee’s efforts in Hulk, it’s nearly impossible to use the screen to mimic the impact on pacing and such of panel and page layouts — how could one comprehensively film the “supersymmetrical” chapter five?

What’s best for adapting formally innovative work to another medium is to deploy formal innovations of the secondary medium in analogy or translation. Imagine the way, say, a POV shot from Laurie’s perspective could make the subtle grotesquerie of Dr. Manhattan’s impromptu orgy seem disturbing rather than titillating, or play up its titillation in a way that makes the viewer complicit with Manhattan and thus much more uncomfortable when the weirdness of it for Laurie is made apparent. Consider how the “false document” character of the comic might be utilized in the film in entirely different ways and modes, perhaps outright shifting style at certain points and using a faux documentary style to present Hollis Mason’s autobiography or deploying war-movie shot styles for the Viet Nam flashbacks?

To my mind, that’s how to film Watchmen: by acknowledging that you can’t preserve the formal dynamics and innovation of the comic, and instead trying to develop filmic dynamics and innovations that might allow the adaptation to have its own importance or genius.

Imagine Watchmen filmed less for direct fidelity to the comic book, which would,

5. Dan’s melodramatic response Rorschach’s death- On the one hand, it was always weird in the book that he never seemed to give a damn about what happened to Rorschach, so that was a nice touch; although he was a little busy having “Holy shit, we just saw a man commit mass murder to save the world and are totally freaking out” sex with Laurie at the time. Can’t blame him there. Still, it was a little much, especially after he started beating on Ozymandias. I did like that Ozy just stood there and took it. That was one of the few nice touches with him.

Honestly, that sequence felt right to me. It was firmly established, in both the comics and the film, that Night Owl and Rorschach were crime-fighting partners before joining the Crimebusters/Watchmen. Why wouldn’t Dan break down at the sight of his partner, his friend, his former best friend dying? Wouldn’t you?

And, Ozymandias just standing there and taking a beating was, I agree, a good touch.

Speaking of Ozymandias, though, one of the weak points of the film was the utter lack of explanation for Bubastis, Ozymandias’ genetically-altered pet lynx. Since the ending was changed, Bubastis’ origin was no longer integral to the film and, therefore, excised, so it was just a weird, random cat that appeared for a couple scenes and died. For as real as the film tried to make its world, the lynx definitely stuck out as an element of the surreal. But, I guess every “evil mastermind” needs to have some kind of pet in his fortress.

Also: I thought the prison riot, in the wake of the burned prisoner’s death, was poorly established. The inmate flatlines; then, all of a sudden, three inmates are outside Rorschach’s cell, and all hell has broken loose. It felt like a scene — or at least part of one, the part where the prisoners actually break out of their cells — was skipped.

11. The fight scenes were too slick- It’s a dumb thing to complain about considering that the guy whose biggest hit was a movie that was mostly a long, slick fight scene, but still; it bugged me. Especially when Rorschach kept doing well against the cops after jumping out of the window.

Watching the opening fight between the Comedian and his attacker, it occurred to me that Snyder’s ramped-up/slow-motion, fast-fast-slow action style is, effectively, slapstick without any of the comedy.

Quite enjoyed it overall, but, especially with the preceeding trailers, Rorshach’s voice seemed way too gravelly, had the movie started or was it Batman or a James Earl Jones voiceover.. that bugged me too much. I’d’ve prefered creepier. By the end it didn’t bother me at all, but was maybe toned down a bit later.
And there did seem to be way too much gore and murder.

Terrible, except for Rorschach and Dr. M. And Ozymondias was notably terrible, both in performance and in the way they reduced all of his complexities.

Possiby the most poignant aspect of this films success or failure as a film is the fact that so many of us have had different problems with the film resonate with us, and as a result very few problems on this list are redundant except in cases where we reference one another.

This isn’t an instance where, as with other films, one can cite “bad” acting or set design, but rather everyone here is citing specific, properly referenced examples of failure on the part of the film.

This usually occurs months or years after the release of the film, but because we are all experts on The Watchmen and it is nearly a film already, the process is accelerated substantially.

When the Dark Knight or Iron Man or Daredevil or Electra or Superman Returns came out, it seemed that many people were able to put forward vague comments about the entire films in general, however this is the only time I’ve seen people be able to walk out of a film and specifically refer to 7-10 things that they didn’t like in the film and yet still call it a success, or on the flip side of this equation reference that many parts they loved but also say they dislike the film.

As a result, I will say that this film will neither stand out as a success or a failure, but rather be mired in mediocrity, perhaps a fate worse than failure. The only other factor I can imagine in deciding its fate will be the one hour longer directors cut, which will either be spectacular, terrible, or boring, but at least it will be the end of the debate.

Actually, I take that back, in order to (cheesily) quote Film-Laurie and say “Nothing ever ends.”

Biggest bothers for me:

1) In the book, Rorschach is considered a dangerous vigilante because he’s a killer. The cops are scared of him and simultaneously desperate to get him. He’s known to have committed a grand total of TWO murders of criminals, and that makes him a dangerous psycho. In the movie, Dan and Laurie kill at least two guys in the alley fight and don’t think anything of it (you can hear the bones cracking in the one guy’s neck, there’s the guy Laurie uses as a human shield, and I think a few others probably also die in that scene). Turning Dan and Laurie into casual killers who don’t seem affected at all by their actions kind of undermines Rorschach’s character, and makes it seem like the only real difference between him and Dan is that Rorschach refused to retire. Irritating.

2) Snyder doesn’t do subtle, but Adrian Veidt is a very subtle character. The first time Veidt appears on camera, Snyder might as well have hung a giant neon sign up behind him with “Here’s The Villain” blinking in red on it. The second time there’s a scene in Veidt’s office, Snyder does exactly that by having “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” playing in the background. He turned Veidt into kind of a more sympathetic Doctor Doom, which is a disservice to a character who is much more complex than that. He didn’t really get into the narcissistic personality, the god complex, or the mania that Moore eventually shows Veidt with in the book. I didn’t think Veidt’s instability came across at all either – he was way too cool through the ending. In the book, Veidt didn’t know his plan was going to work and when it did he leaped into the air in celebration. In the movie, he just had an “exactly as I planned” smug expression on his face.

3) The makeup. No one is going to win any awards for makeup for this movie. I kept thinking Richard Nixon’s face was melting off.

4) This is more of a criticism of the “artistic vision” than anything else, but Snyder doesn’t do subtle. Everywhere that Moore and Gibbons were subtle, Snyder is in-your-face. Everywhere that Moore and Gibbons do “brutally realistic” Snyder goes for “extreme to teetering on the point of camp or self-parody”. I still haven’t decided if this is a creative tic of Snyder’s and he just thinks it’s really cool to dial the action up to extreme levels, or if he was trying to make a point with it. I want to believe that he was making a point with the over-the-top scenes, but after mulling it over in my head overnight I’m still not sure I believe it.

But on the whole I was entertained. And it did turn out to be more thought-provoking to the folks I went with who hadn’t read the book than most superhero movies were in their estimation (The Dark Knight was the only one that they thought compared), so it was definitely a success for me at a few levels.

Am I the only one who saw the blatant nod to “300″ during the Comedian’s death? There was a slow-mo focus on the number “300″ on his front door…which was obnoxious, because I’m pretty sure the Comedian fell from at least 20 stories up.

Never read the comic but probably will now after watching the film.

I thought Dr Manhattan showed his junk a bit too often. Come on, he had a fully working thong!

Even when the comic came out, the suspense over the threat of nuclear war felt kind of dead. It was something the reader was told, but that seemed like a card being played in a show-me medium like comics, rather than something suspenseful.

The movie handled this perfectly, by making itself about the 1960s, by making itself about the disappointment the US went through that followed the post WWII naivete. Going by Moore’s account that superheroes are predominantly perverse, I don’t think even he could have made that connection. Having England bombed-the-hell-out during WWII probably meant they didn’t have the particular combination of naivete and single-access mass-culture to facilitate that kind of connection in the story.

On the other hand, the book spent just the right amount of time to Veidt too gleeful over breaking the Comedian to establish his grudge against Blake as his true, unconscious motive for his plan. Snyder not picking up on that was a missed opportunity to create a truly dark moment late in the movie.

Also, having Nite Owl complain Veidt corrupted humanity after preventing nuclear war looked catastrophically stupid. The movie explicitly says that Osterman missing even 1% of a nuclear strike would destroy humanity. The book was spot on in never showing Veidt crack, but instead having the raving castaway of the pirate comic serve as a metaphor for his damnation.

The biggest problem with Nixon was that his nose looked like the one Peter Sellers wore in one of the Pink Panther movies.

Also, the peace established in the movie was more stable because when the New Frontiersman publishes Rorschach’s journal, Veidt can still keep the adversarial powers united by being an Osama bin Laden with the killing capability of Dr Manhattan. With the squid from the book revealed as a hoax, nothing keeps Veidt accomplishments together, and he’ll have become a mass-murderer for nothing.

things i didn’t like:
-no, “i did it!”
-less moral ambiguity than the book, especially at the ending
-laurie piecing together her father’s identity.
they totally botched the last part. “only once” had such poignancy when blake said it. that look he gave was forever ingrained in my mind… to think snyder didn’t even shoot that scene… wow.

Uncle Joe Mccarthy

March 8, 2009 at 8:46 pm

in the movie, during the rorshach monologue after dan and laurie have lunch, rorshach says, “they didnt recognize me without my mask..” thing is, its no longer his mask, its his face

i also didnt like the glaring scene between dan and rorshach….too obvious

and i understand why they cut the whole rorshach goes back to his apt to get his spare suit, but i really miss the scene with dan and laurie in full costume with rorshach uncostumed, walking out of the prison to archie

it puts an exclamation point on the fact that it is kovacs that is the disguise…just like clark kent is superman’s disguise

It’s simple: This was the best adaptation of an Alan Moore work, ever.

Unfortunately, it still missed the point of the book. Whether Snyder actually gets it, or this is his compromise with Hollywood, I don’t know.

Here’s my list of Hate:

1) Wooden acting of Malin Ackerman
2) Unsubtle characterization by Matthew Goode (though the vague German accent was a great touch)
3) The Music — way too obvious and overused
4) The extending of scenes
5) The Ending
6) The lack of Silk Spectre smoking (otherwise, she’s just a complete retard for hitting the Flame Button on the Owlship)
7) Rorschach’s extended ass-kicking of cops
8) Comedian punching through walls
9) Rorschach calling his mask his MASK and not his face (just like Unca Joe mentioned)
10) The lack of subtlety of the pirson murder
11) The extra gore
12) Calling them “The Watchmen” throughout the film

…sigh…I could keep going, and some doozies I’ve totally left out, but the entire idea of complaining exhausts me.

What bothered me the most was the director’s cries of, “We put everything we could in there; we were totally faithful, but, y’know, pressed for time,” and then they added an the McLaughlin Group and an extended murder scene at the beginning, the beautiful, but worthless credits, and the inclusion of Lee Iacocca. It felt like someone decided, “KEEP REMINDING PEOPLE IT’S 1985. THEY’RE STUPID AND WON’T REMEMBER.” Also, the overlong sex scene just chewed up screen time for no good reason.

Cut that tripe out, fiddle with the ending, remove Nite-Owl’s Vader-esque “NOOOO” and we’re ever-so close to it being just about right. In fact, I think when the extended version comes out on DVD, I’m going to cut it myself.

I agree with many of the complaints I’ve heard, and agree with Jack that they could have shortened a lot of scenes to make room for more important details. Did the movie ever actually say how the Comedian discovered Adrian’s plot? Was there any explanation at all for Bubastis’s existence? When and how did the Comedian, Laurie and Adrian get such super strength? And seriously, could they have chosen worse actors for Laurie or Adrian???

There are a lot of flaws in this movie, but there was stuff I liked.
Like the Enola Gay being called the Sally Jupiter, a great touch.
Rorschach was portrayed well, as was Jon (though his, uh, blue boy seemed as artifical a sepcial effect as Bubastis), and I thought that the Comedian was presented almost perfectly (except for punching chunks out of the wall). I always knew that bastard was one of the Grassy Knoll shooters.

So is anybody considering a “Things I Liked About the Watchmen Movie” post?

Bitch, bitch, bitch.

Come on guys, this is WATCHMEN. The unadaptable graphic novel.

All things considered, I think they did a pretty terrific job of bringing this massive, multi-layered work to film. Could have been a LOT worse. As someone said earlier, were you really going into the theater expecting to see an exact replica of the book? Simply not possible.

“Other nit-pick? Doc Manhattan exploding everyday thugs. In one of the flashback scenes when he first appeared they showed a quick flash of him blowing up two mafia looking guys and then his picture being in a newspaper. Yeah, I get that he’s becoming more distant, but it seemed weird that no one seemed to have a problem with it.”

This scene was taken directly from the graphic novel.

At the beginnning Veidt’s advanced genetic research is mentioned. it’s a big stretch but it covers Bubastis.

Veidt says the Comedian was tasked by Nixon to keep tabs on the masks and the Comedian discovered the plot while investigating Veidt.

The “super strength” was just exaggerated physicality. The movie is already a hard enough sell for normal people without wheezing superheroes who can’t jump more than a foot into the air. If we’re going to accept the conceit that these people could fight crime and not be killed the first three months on the job it should be fairly easy to accept the idea that they’re *really* good fighters and athletes. Which is not how the comic portrayed them necessarily(aside from Veidt) but we have to believe they have *some* skills and chance of success or why even bother watching?

Surprised nobody mentioned one of the things that bothered me: Rorschach is said to be 35 in the news report of his arrest. So that makes him 20 when the Watchmen group meets for the first time. WTF? When did he start fighting crime, when he was 15?

And the guy they had playing Nixon WAS horrible. Seriously, they couldn’t find anyone better?

I liked that they went with a caricature of Nixon rather than a straight version.

“For what the movie is its great.
And its Watchmen turned into an action Superhero movie.”

That is the furthest thing from great.

Apodaca:
Why?
Its the furthest thing from great that Snyder made Watchmen as much his own take on the wource material as he could?
Snyder made Watchmen his own, which is to say that the movie is his interpretation of whats cool about Watchmen.
I’ve been reading Watchmen since it was in single issue form and am extremely attached to it.
I read Watchmen at least once a year and still find new things, but I wasn’t so delusional as to think I was going to see the comic brought to life.
Anybody who goes to see a movie based off a book or comic has to expect the movie to be different.

But its really easy to make a simple statement suggesting that I have no taste without qualifying your statement now isn’t it?
I’ll say this about your comment now that I’ve explained myself a bit more:
Your comment is the furthest thing from great.

In the comic, the main references to the Comedian assassinating Kennedy come from:

1) A mention that he was in Dallas that day, along with Nixon.

2) At a party, someone mentions the deaths of two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, and jokingly asks the Comedian if he has anything to do with it. He says, “Nah, I’m clean, boys. Just don’t ask me about JFK.” (But of course, the implication is that he’s lying about being “clean” here as well.)

3) The trade ads for ‘Watchmen’ are done as a series of character portraits, with a line of dialogue over each portrait that exemplifies that character. The Comedian is shown with a sniper rifle, aiming outside of a window, with a Dallas newspaper sitting on a table nearby referencing Kennedy’s visit. (His tagline, for the curious, is “What happened to the American dream? It came true. You’re looking at it.”)

I won’t fault the actor playing the Comedian for not being able to match the intensity of the character as seen in the comic. I just don’t think any actor could do it. But I will fault him for not having a New York accent. :)

It’s not necessarily that I dislike Dylan; I just like his songs better when other people are singing them. Mainly Jimi Hendrix.

Don’t forget Nina Simone! She did some of my favourite Dylan renditions. ;)

By the way, even though i share many of your criticism I do think you’re being a bit hard on this movie. Making a list of the things they did poorly seems unfair when there were several things they did pretty well. Why not make a list of those to balance it out?

4. How compressed it was- Yes, I know why they had to do it and can accept it on a logical level. It’s still pretty annoying. Hopefully someone will do a 12 part mini-series on HBO someday.

That would’ve been a more suitabe format indeed. It’s more a criticism of the format than of this specific adaptation. Personally I very much missed the bulk of dialog scenes between Rorschach and his psychiatrist, I understand why they cut it though and can’t really blame them for it. Overall I thought they did a pretty good job of forging a coherent script out of the many subplots they had to deal with.

My biggest peeve is the Big Blockbust Gloss over it all. The stylized aspect takes away from the realism that made Watchmen such an exceptional read. And the love scene on the Owlship was pretty cringeworthy. Still, I was entertained for 2 hours and close to 45 minutes nonetheless and most of my expectation were met, in some scenes even pleasantly surpassed. And it probably get’s more people interested in the source material as well, I can’t get very mad at that. Decent film, but the book was better. Who expected anything different?

Uhm. I’ve just read your first post about the movie after this one. So you’re not that hard on it as you seem in this post. I even seem to agree with a lot of it. Just wanted to add that. Still, pretty harsh post.

Roquefort Raider

March 9, 2009 at 6:29 am

I loved the movie! I fully expected it to be in the average-poor range, but was pleasantly surprised!

The only things I disliked are moments where Snyder chose to graphically emphasize the obvious in scenes where Moore preferred a creepier suggestion. Snyder added a shoe on the little girl’s leg that the dogs were fighting for. Unnecessary. The thug gets his arms sawed off on screen, in all the graphic goriness that special effects can come up with. Unnecessary. The overflowing water from the toilet down which Rorshach just flushed somebody is now stained with blood. Unnecessary.

What may hurt the film is that it clearly is a superhero movie, which demands a passing familiarity with the genre to be understood and appreciated. Why would people put on a disguise and fight crime? What is the relation between a superhero and his “archenemy”? Why is it that a guy who gets his intrinsic field removed gets godlike powers? Comic-book readers are familiar with these concepts and accept them as par for course, but neophytes may not.

In recent comic-inspired movies, there was no real need to be familiar with the world of superheroics: Batman from the two recent flicks is not a superhero; he’s a rich guy who uses sophisticated technology to work as a vigilante. He doesn’t really wear a disguise: he wears black body armor. The same goes for Iron Man : he’s another rich guy who uses technology to try and correct the damage his work as an arms-dealer has caused. He’s not disguised either: his suit is strictly utilitarian (with a nice paint job). Even people who never read a comic-book could understand what motivates these guys. But in Watchmen, no matter how new the approach, the core of the story is the old-fashioned world of disguised super-heroes that few people in the real-world are familiar with.

@HellRazor

No it didn’t. I’m specifically speaking about the guts and needless gore of the scene. And how the scene ends up on the front page of a newspaper. The scene In the comic that “inspired” this part of the movie, is a single panel with an explosion on his face with people in terror/shock over the act. In the movie theater the scene is so over-top the audience was chuckling.

Again, I’m not saying the movie should have been different or more like the comic. I’m saying “this is what I found distracting.” The gore was that of a slasher-flick. And while I’ll agree “it wasn’t exactly like the comic” is no reason to call it a failure; “it could have been worse” is no reason to call it a success.

I have to say I enjoyed the movie. I haven’t seen anything that dark and nihilistic on the screen in a long time. Thematically, it reminded me a lot of the movies of the 70s. That said, I don’t think it will do sell at the box office. The film is too depressing for “escapism” that the audience of today wants. Furhter, its lenght will work against it.

I think this review is too much of a comparison with the book; and remember, short of that HBO adaptation, you’ll never approach the desity of the novel.

To be fair, I am glad I know the novel. IT really helped my enjoyment of the film which I finally poerceived as a Cliff Notes version of the book. I couldn’t help be wonder if someone who hadn’t read the book would enjoy it as much as I did.

Some cheese with your whine?

The tone of the film reminded me more of Millar’s Ultimates than Moore’s Watchmen.
Kind of like Ultimate Watchmen (more action, less substance)

Dr. Manhattan

March 9, 2009 at 9:03 am

I’m not a fanboy, but I did read the comic before I saw the movie. So, I guess think of me as an informed viewer without the decades of attachment. My brief critique (negative and positive) of the movie:

1. If you didn’t read the book, you will be unarmed when you see this movie. I saw it with a couple people who didn’t read it, and some scenes were yawners for them, other scenes just didn’t make sense.

2. I thought the new ending was a dramatic improvement over the novel ending. More nuanced, clever and appropriate for today’s geopolitical climate. I also think the upgraded scene with Rorschach and the pedophile was an enhancement. It was much more character transformational than Rorschach’s solution in the book.

3. I didn’t like the Mars scene when Laurie changed Dr. Manhattan’s mind about life in the book, and I didn’t like it in the movie either. Thankfully, just when I was about to puke in my mouth, the scene ended. I understand and appreciate the chaotic nature of a life’s origins, but I didn’t think the scene carried the emotional heft it needed to (your changing the mind of a god for christ’s sake!!!). IMHO, I think the director could’ve been more nuanced in how he tied Dr. Manhattan’s detachment to how he actually sees time for the audience. And I think it was a simple fix. Instead of simply touching Laurie so she can “see time as he does”, the line “and so I can better understand your life” should’ve been added. Or something to that effect. Sounds like a nitpick, but Dr. Manhattan’s detachment stems from the fact that he does not live linearly anymore. The more he lives that way, the further removed from human existence and memory he becomes. To learn of Laurie’s origins from her perspective and timeline, would be a “learning” experience for him, and something that I know was in the comic and movie, but not pulled off in either. Most people in the audience didn’t see the transformation in Dr. Manhattan’s character. It had zero emotional impact. That equals bad.

4. The doomsday clock did not create any suspense. That was the one major failure of the movie. It didn’t create any suspense larger than the characters. I didn’t feel like World War III was imminent, so I couldn’t see/feel Veidt’s perspective in the end.

5. The only character I felt anything for was Rorschach (who was unbelievably good and whose end seen was really dramatic). Although I think Patrick Wilson did a great job embodying Dan Dreiberg.

6. Lastly, I really do appreciate that Zac Snyder stayed true to the novel. And while I understand the great pressure to satisfy the true fan base (not people like me), I think the director missed an opportunity to give this movie its own identity. Another version of this movie exists, maybe not in Zac Snyder’s mind, where the whole story is told from one perspective, and that would be Rorschach’s. It would be a true crime noir from that vantage point.

7. All in all though, the movie needs to be seen twice. It was a massive undertaking, and for all of the moving parts of the book, I think the movie was pretty darn good.

Tuomas said:

“But Comedian flat out admitting to Dan that he killed Woodward and Bernstein makes no sense, because at least in theory Dan could rat on him. I know that in the world of Watchmen W & B never became as famous as in the real world because they were killed before they had the chance to publish the Watergate case, but you’d still assume the murder of two prominent journalists would’ve made the news, so Dan could’ve easily connected Blake’s comment to those murders.”

However in real life, Woodward and Bernstein were NOT prominent journalists in the slightest, especially Bob Woodward, who just sort of fell into the job. It’s an American myth that these two were “hard nosed reporters always looking for the truth” before they met each other. Not so. While both of them did have some great stuff published prior to the Watergate stuff, they were hardly prominent in the field. Hell, most people considered Bernstein a nut and a conspiracy theorist, not to mention that he was a terrible writer (Woodward balanced this by being not so good at reporting and an incredibly strong writer).

So even if they were killed in real life, it would’ve made the news for what, a couple of days? Look what happens when a journalist dies today: It’s on the news for one media cycle, then all we can remember is that “it’s so tragic–those journalists died in Afghanistan.” Collectively as a culture we can barely remember their names or what they were working on.

Seems like people are grasping for straws with what was actually *bad* about the movie versus what they simply disliked about it. Honestly, in terms of a FILM, there were only a few bad aspects of it which I think were:

1- Malin Ackerman’s acting.
2- The guy whom played Nixon’s impression of Nixon (but only at the end–he had it down at the start, I thought).
3- The missing bits that will surely be on the DVD that fill in some of the awkward transitional scenes (the prison riot’s beginning, Holis Mason’s ultimate fate, and what Rorschach discovers about the remaining Minutemen in detail [including the truths of Hooded Justice and Dollar Bill]).

Citizen Scribbler

March 9, 2009 at 11:35 am

I agree with a lot of the criticisms I’m reading here. I did enjoy the movie, but certain elements were a little irksome to me.

If I could’ve changed one specific moment, it would be Rorschach’s capture by the police. In the book, when he’s cornered on the top floor, he leaps out of the window and, after crashing to the ground, is unable to will himself to get back on his feet- finally meeting the limitations of his physicality. Now, in the movie, he falls several stories, leaps to his feet, and beats the hell out of a bunch of cops- it was silly and unbelievable.

One the great things about the Watchmen characters from the book is that they were very realistic. I don’t want to see Nite-Owl fighting like he’s Batman in the Bale movies; that’s what those movies are for. Real violence has real consequences and it’s most often awkward and ugly. The miracle is that one of these non-powered heroes gets through a fight at all. I mean, they all know how to fight, but you lose the achievement when you make it look so easy. The confrontation with Ozy was way better in the book for his pinning Rorschach with his fork and compelling his opponents to their knees.

And just why did Laurie need to jump through a flaming roof when all she was going to do was help passengers onto Archie? She could’ve just gone through the window, like anyone else would’ve. And why did they have that awful version of Halleluiah playing for the love scene? They got the rights to use Dylan and Hendrix recordings, so don’t tell me they couldn’t have gotten the Billie Holiday from the book.

One change I approved of, however, was Rorschach directly killing the child butcher with the cleaver. The book version, with it’s Mad Max cutting through the chain thing, never felt right to me. This new version got across the change in Rorschach’s mind-state a lot more clearly to me. Killing an unarmed person, no matter how vile they are, is a traumatizing line to cross.

And the Crimebusters meeting scene felt flat without Captain Metropolis. I’m sure many of us could go on for pages, but I just wanted to throw out my biggest thoughts for now (such as they are). And I’m glad to read everybody else’s thoughts as well.

-Citizen Scribbler

I have to agree, Citizen. In the book, I really got the feeling that Rorschach was just a human, a frail human with a LOT of human frailties; not one with great “batman-esque” fighting skills. I found his use of bugspray and matches to escape the SWAT in character but his jumping out a top floor window then going all Kung-FU Panda on the police out of character….as were some of his Spiderman leaps.

His killing of the child molester (and this will be sacriledge) was better than Moore’s original handling. It really conveyed his disgust and harted for the villian. If there ever was a “snap” in a character…he went from Silver Age hero to Travis Bickle in that one scene.

I don’t think there was a way to make any fan of Watchmen happy. It works best in the medium it was intended for and that’s evident by all the criticisms (legitimate, well-thought out ones) and whining (the opposite) I see going on here.

So Synder had a job I wouldn’t have wanted for the world. Of course if he’s smart and wants to keep his sanity he’ll avoid all sites like these and probably avoid comic conventions for a while. Let the comic heads’ brains stop boiling over first.

The Comedian never said he KILLED Woodward and Bernstein, only that the riot reminded him of that time. Since thew Comedian wasn’t using lethal force in that scene, but was breaking up a crowd of protesters, I would think that Watergate happened in the Watchmen continuity, and W&B blew the whistle, but were probably arrested on the orders of Nixon’s Attorney General and riots ensued.

In our world, Nixon put immense legal pressure on The Washington Post to try to make them back down, and if public opinion hadn’t turned against him, would probably have had Ben Bradlee as well as W&B arrested.

The Watchmen’s Nixon was a much more confident and popular guy who had just won the Vietnam War. His actions and abuses would therefore have been proportionately greater.

DogChasingCars

March 9, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Actually, I did prefer the movie. Granted, I didn’t love the book, but I thought the movie was overall slicker and more cohesive than the book. Yes, it was much more violent. Yes, it cut out a lot. And yes, the dialogue was somewhat corny. But within the genre, I thought it worked. Considering that it’s intended as a parody of the superhero genre, I thought its purpose was fulfilled.

i loved the movie, loved it so much i wanted to watch it again as soon as it was over.

i have read the graphic novel and liked it alot, but im also one of those “detached fans”, like the poster “Dr. Manhatten” i am informed viewer, but do not have the years of devotion and love for the original material.

to put it bluntly, the only thing i think i can complain about is Nixons make up job, i found it very distracting and quite frankly, not very good. that and if they are gonna have comedian mention to hooded justice about getting his jollies and then never really mention the character again was confusing. i liked the slick action fight sequences. and the movie still felt very cerebral for an action film and still felt very faithful overall. the horror film gore didnt bother me as that seemed appropriate to me.

yes, it confused my friend that the characters were not supposed to have super-strength, even tho it he had read the graphic novel, but it never bothered me because its a comic book movie and its supposed to be over the top violence, its like martial art films or the action in V for Vendetta. if you want actualy use comic book terms, specifcally Marvel terminoligy, they all had between five and sevens in Fighting Skills on their stats.

fourthworlder

March 9, 2009 at 8:30 pm

And they pretty much all had spider-strength, finally i get it.

Imperfect movie, imperfect comic book. I thought some of Snyder’s economizing worked well (yay! no stupid pirates) and others not (Laurie’s learning about her father). The movie format escapes some of the limitations of the book (namely the often pointless formal techniques…typified by those stupid pirates), and the solution to the squid ‘problem’ was pretty ingenious. But Snyder’s porn-violence (and I’m not referring to the sex scene) undercuts the movie. (And Veidt was miscast as noted above.)

Minor annoyance: the “two riders were approaching line” as Nite Owl and Rorschach are WALKING to Veidt’s hideout. C’mon, put ‘em on scooters!

Somebody just killed themselves watching this movie…he must have been really annoyed with the adaptation. I have to admit like lot of you had alot of I have the same “nit-picks” that annoyed me. The super hero powers where over the top and seemed cheesy. Why do they always take an alan moore classic and try to turn into a gay action movie..the Wachoswi Brothers did the same thing with V for Vendetta…I just felt they dumb the story down alot and casted a an attractive actress who cant read dialogue to play the part of Laurie. I cringed at the prison scene..where she is in her high heels kicking bad guys with her stiloutte heals and slick kung fu..the prison fight scene was horrible..it was reminincent of Mighty Morphan Power Rangers…the more I think about the more I think about I feel like Zach Synder was not the person who should have directed this..i hope one day the make another verison of this somewhere down the line there..and yes where the Scooters!!!!…they looked so thrilled to be walking in the snow to confort the bad guy…come on!

Hai, I’m Lilian, I have started the novel, havent finished it yet, I was at the very beginning of the novel when my boyfriend showed me the movie.
I liked the idea of superheroes, the bit melanchonic city, very interesting. But I did not expect this much blood, violence, even rape. I understand they cant change the book, but I have been trough these kind of things myself when I was 12, and that’s why I hated hated hated that scene, and every violent gore bloody explosion moment in the movie.
It was R-rated, come on! I was first SO impressed by the looks of rorshack, and my boyfriend loved the comedian. Since I saw the whole movie, I just focus on rorshacks looks and try to forget the fact that one of the great heroes is a rapist and his victim even feels bad for him. Disgusting.

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