Friday, 13 March 2009

Some thoughts on Watchmen

I'm latecomer to the world of Watchmen. I just bought the graphic novel a few months ago mainly to read before I saw the movie. It wasn't until I finished the book that I realised how subversively affecting it was.

I made the effort to see the new movie a couple of days ago with the book fresh in my mind. I dont know what I would have made of it without reading the book but I'm a little bit stunned at how closely the the scenes in the movie follow the book.

Whole chunks of dialog are lifted directly from the page and placed into the movie. Nearly all the flashback are there. Lots of visual moments have been storyboarded from the comic. For example the smiley face badge in the gutter next to the Comedian's blood, Rorschach lifting a rose in the cemetery, Laurie playing with "Archie", Dr Manhattan's TV interview and his glass palace (and the smiley face!), on Mars, and then the whole thing is book-ended with the smiley face t-shirt and ketchup at the end.

The violence is violent. I almost felt every impact of the opening fight. And there are a few "they wouldn't, surely..." moments.

And the characters... Here they are in all their dysfunctional glory. The Comedian is just as nasty a piece of work as before. Nothing has been toned down. Dr Manhattan's back story is just as tragic. They even have the line:
"All we ever see of stars are their old photographs."

And then Rorschach. Oh boy. Why does this guy stick in the mind? Any scene with him remains memorable. His "hard-boiled" narration survives, even down to the joke about the "great clown Pagliacci". His "No! No! No!" realisation that he been set up. His escape from the cell involving his assailants turning on their own hapless accomplice. And finally, the true climax of the story, his "no compromise" line to Dr Manhattan just before... well, you know. In an odd way Rorschach is the most idealistic of the "masks".

"Those Were Great Times Rorschach, What Happened...?"
"You Quit"

He also has possibly the best line in the movie:

"None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me!"

Other plot points are inevitably given reduced screen time, such as the kid reading the comic next to the news vendor. Perhaps we will see more of them in the extended DVD.

PS Be warned that there are some naughty lady bits and some naughty (albeit CGI) man bits...