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Old March 3 2009, 07:18 PM   #19
Lapis Exilis
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Re: New Yorker Watchmen Review *Minor Spoilers*

I've been checking several respected reviewers on the film and yes, The New Yorker's shows plainly that he doesn't understand the original medium or story, so it's unlikely he's going to get the movie.

However, several reviewers who do plainly understand the book are remarking that the film is slavish to the point of creating a faithful but lifeless adaptation. Which is a drag.

From Nick Setchfield at SFX magazine:
"Critically, Watchmen dissected comics in the unique vocabulary of the funnybooks. A celluloid version needed to be just as playful with cinema, interrogating the cliches and tropes of screen crusaders – everything from the high-camp riot of ‘60s Batman to the darkly tinged X-Men movies. But while Snyder adds fashionably overwrought sound FX to the combat sequences (and his slo-mo, sped-up action tic soon gets annoying) they feel misjudged....

It’s not a bad film. It’s actually coldly, technically brilliant. And it honours Moore and Gibbons only too well. But it’s monumental and slab-like, an exercise in cinematic taxidermy, in need of a lightning strike to animate its parts....

Ultimately you’re left feeling like Billy Crudup’s wan Dr Manhattan, witnessing a supernova from afar – yes, it’s a spectacle, it’s worthy of a polite smattering of applause, but somehow you’re too distant and detached to care. This is an easy film to admire, a crushingly hard film to love."

A great adaptation requires so much more than the misguided attempt to simply transfer something from one medium to another.

From Devin Gordon's Newsweek review - a very good point:

"Only a few filmmakers have struck a balance. "The Godfather" was a bestseller, but for the screen version, director Francis Ford Coppola bravely rearranged nearly all of its furniture, building a bit character's wedding into a massive set piece at the start of his film and, for the climax, intercutting a solemn baptism with a string of brutal Mafia hits. More recently, the "Harry Potter" movies didn't get it right until the third try, when Alfonso Cuarón turned Hogwarts into a magically grungy, bluish dungeon populated with disaffected adolescents in blue jeans. Comic-book and fantasy adaptations are now a dime a dozen, but they tend to work best—see Christopher Nolan and Batman—when they are spiritual, rather than literal, transfusions. The apotheosis, surely, is Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which stands shoulder to shoulder with Tolkien's books. What separates Jackson and Snyder isn't the depth of their love for the material. It's that Jackson was merciless about it when he had to be."

I'll still go see it, and then I'll reread the book which I haven't picked up in probably 20 years. It'll be interesting to see if the book holds up, or if it is either too attached to the particular paranoias of the 80s, or the particular paranoias of being 20. Maybe there is something timeless about it, and it's surely a good yarn. I look forward to finding out.
Because I have found I can tolerate being judged far better than I can being of no consequence. - Spock, World Enough and Time, Star Trek: New Voyages
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