Thursday, February 12, 2009

Watchmen: Why It Will Suck

So as you might have heard, Watchmen the movie is coming out next month. And I have a friend who is going to drag me to see it, about which I'm vaguely resentful, but what can you do? So let me outline the reasons this movie is going to suck. You can call me a visionary later.

1. Directed by Zack Snyder. Okay, so maybe you can't blame Snyder for 300; at least not completely--it's hard to imagine anyone making a great movie out of such fundamentally stupid source material. But the problem is that he and everyone involved seem to think that 300 was a great accomplishment. The previews characterize him as "visionary." This is seriously delusional, but even if we pretend we're living in a bizarre alternate world in which 300 didn't suck, the fact remains that you can't approach something as multilayered as Watchmen in the same way you do something as--straightforward, let's say--as 300. The latter does not train you for the former.

2. It is a superhero movie. This is obvious from all the previews. But to conceptualize Watchmen as a "superhero comic" is to make a serious category error. When you think about it, there really isn't all that much "action," per se. Rorschach tortures some thugs. Dreiberg and Juspeczyk save some people from a burning building. And there's one big, awful explosion. What else? To concentrate on and accentuate these things is to miss the point by a rather wide margin, and that's sure as fuck what's going on in the previews.

3. The movie will almost certainly insist on making non-heroes into heroes. Watchmen has only one hero--I refer of course to Rorschach. Notice how he has a very strong means-justify-the-ends philosophy throughout the comic? Remember his school essay where he says he thinks the atomic bombings of Japan were a good thing for the usual reasons people say this? Recall his journal entry right at the beginning where he announces his intention to let society drown in its own filth--to say "no?" AND THEN--notice how at the end he rejects--is THE ONLY ONE to reject--this worldview? That he actually says, emphatically, YES, even though it costs him his life? Dreiberg and Juspeczyk aren't exactly bad people, but they sure ain't very heroic--how can you not be nauseated by seeing them, at the very end, discuss their plans to go back to playing dress-up? Dr. Manhattan is kind of a dick, even if there are mitigating circumstances. The Comedian is a psychopath. Veidt MIGHT have been a kind of tragic hero were he more self-aware, but he wasn't and he isn't. And he's not. You think the movie is going to be honest about all this? Pfft. You watch--they'll make the Dreiberg/Juspeczyk love story into the movie's emotional center. Just SEE if they don't.

4. It wasn't fucking MEANT to be a movie, you idiots. How are you going to handle the interstitial material? The Black Freighter sequence, especially the parts where the dialogue from the story mirrors that of the characters? Answer: by cutting it all out. Not that the main thrust of the comic isn't powerful on its own, but it's hard to see how it isn't gonna seem pretty damned pallid by comparison.

If this is all tragically wrong, I will acknowledge as much, and reluctantly grant Zack Fucking Snyder that "visionary" status. BUT IT'S NOT.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous pontificated to the effect that...

Not to mention a garbagey techo soundtrack. "We kung fu now!"

4:57 AM  
Blogger GeoX pontificated to the effect that...

Too true. There's DEFINITELY going to be a "look how cool this is" vibe, which is in stark contrast to the comic, in which the characters are most emphatically NOT COOL--Night Owl, in particular, is COMPLETELY dorky-looking.

I read something someone wrote--I believe in relation to one of the Matrix sequels--in response to the notion that movie had the perfect soundtrack: no, this person argued; you just THINK it's perfect because it sounds exactly how you would have expected it to sound. ANYONE could have scored it like that. A real visionary would have done something genuinely unexpected. I think that's a good way to think about it.

5:11 PM  

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