Watchmen film....and Zack Snyder....

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Joel_Kirk, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's interesting - no film depiction of a comic book hero that I can think of has ever struck me as anything better than an adequate recreation of the less extravagantly imaginative aspects of the original character. Certainly no Superman movie has ever come close...
     
  2. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I disliked it. The plot adjustments it made were brilliant--the ending works much better in this version than the original. But Snyder also turns the original into a glorious celebration of violence (it's even in slow motion!).

    Add to that a few bad performances, some awful old-age make-up, and a Nixon that is so bad it's hard to even laugh at him (in both performance and make-up), combined with some pacing problems and odd musical choices (Ride of the Valkyries over the Vietnam sequence--really?), and the whole is far from satisfying. I'd rather read the graphic novel again, stupid squid and all.
     
  3. Joel_Kirk

    Joel_Kirk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I was actually talking to some friends about adapting Superman. (I posted this in another thread, but it's a role I would like to portray someday; I would like to have Lois Lane portrayed by an Asian actress).

    The character always has had trouble onscreen; the first film comes close, but it is dated in some ways. However, Chris Reeves is the reason that I come back to Superman 2, 3, and even 4....I believed he was Superman/Ka-el/Clark Kent.

    The Batman franchise is over-rated, but I never had been 'frightened' of a villain such as Heath Ledger's Joker. (I did like Michael Keaton's portrayal; I would have liked to see what Bill Murray--another choice for the character--might have done).

    ***

    I just picked the 'Watchmen' graphic novel up from my school library (for the umpteenth time) to read.

    I probably mentioned this before: I don't think it's a mind-blowing film, but it is interesting. Too, it's just interesting to see the characters come alive.

    The book came about in the era when superheroes were so black and white; they were gray.

    Has anyone read the series 'Powers' by John Michael Bendis? It's along the same lines as 'Watchmen'...
     
  4. Orintho

    Orintho Vice Admiral Admiral

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    'Watchmen' is one of 2009's best films. It is a rather good science fiction film too, not just some comic book hero story some of you dismiss it as. The alternate time line was fascinating. I've watched it a number of times now and there is more and more depth to it each time. This is really a labor of love from Snyder and it shows. The details, symbology, the selection of music - it all fits and flows so well. I liked the cast - Rorschach and the Comedian stood out the best but the others improve upon each viewing.

    And no, I am not some devoted fanboy. I did not even read the comic before the film came out. I just notice when a really good piece of cinema comes along. It will be depressing that this film will probably get overlooked for any serious award recogniion probably getting overshadowed by 'Avatar' which while complex in its special effects, it is sadly predictable in its story.

    And some of you who complain that Snyder was too literal, what do you mean? The movie told the story in a fairly uncomplicated way - it was easy to follow. 'Watchmen' was never supposed to be a simplistic 'hero kills bad guy' kind of story.

    I did not see the 'Dawn of the Dead' remake, but '300' was awesome - though not historically accurate was a great artistic tribute to Frank Miller.
     
  5. Yassim

    Yassim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    My memory of it has faded, but I remember the music being quite jarring - "Sounds of Silence" being over-obvious and played too loud, and "Hallelujah" - well, hrrmm....

    What did you like about the music?
     
  6. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Since Dave Gibbons storyboarded the movie for Snyder, it is really hard to discern what contributions Snyder actually made. The titles were clever but they were after all just the titles. I suppose it was Snyder who let Haley get away with imitating Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken imitating Clint Eastwood. A huge mistake in my opinion but very popular here.

    The problems in the movie with glorification of violence were in the graphic novel. They are just more obvious on screen.

    As to space squid, it is really peculiar to think the squid is unbelievable, instead of noticing it's the psychic that is unbelievable.
     
  7. I thought it was pretty good, and it was interesting to see scenes from the comic played out... but even though it was so 'exact' a translation at times I don't feel like Snyder really GETs it. Hard to quantify. For example, the fight in the beginning where the Comedian kicks it... that for instance, there's no way that should have been a "kewl" back and forth slow-motion Zack Snyder fight. Silk Spectre is almost too sexy and megan fox-ish... the sex scene and the weird way he focuses on it with the music....

    It's almost like Zack Snyder thought the surface plot of Watchmen was all there is....... it's a little unsettling to be honest. Look I love Watchmen but its not like the plot itself is all that fantastic. What makes it legendary are the layers upon layers of depth, sometimes visuals, sometimes themes, thematic connects, connections between panels and dialogue box juxtoposition, odd symmetries in the way the panels are laid out, backstory connections you just realize on your 10th reading. It really is a shockingly staggering work of depth, even in these 'lowered expectations' times of comics where all you need for a "good" comic is a shocking mark millar action book or lots of "funny" bendis dialogue.

    i'm not really bashing the movie, it is entertaining, it has a lot of style... the opening credits may be the best credits i've ever seen. Rorchsch was pretty amazing.
     
  8. Orintho

    Orintho Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The songs were not simply chosen to give the film a certain feel. Snyder did not toss in Hendrix simply to be cool or anything. The music told part of the story itself.

    When I saw 'Watchmen' a second time, I accidentally chose a showing that the theater ran for deaf people - it was subtitled in English. And it also picked up all the song lyrics as well as the dialogue. I noticed the music lyrics were echoing the action in the scenes. That is a subtle touch on Snyder's effort that enhances the entire movie.
     
  9. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Sounds too inside-baseball for the moviegoing audience to care. So what if movies like X-Men and Spider-Man et al are kinda stoopid. Everyone knows that. What's the point of making a movie telling us what we already know? If a filmmaker objects to the idiocy of superhero movies, they could make a non-superhero art film for those people in the audience who look down their noses at the likes of X-Men and Spider-Man et al.

    The problem with Watchmen the movie is that it didn't succeed even at the level we expect from a decent superhero flick. Characters we care about. A storyline with a decent amount of suspense, plot twists, inherent interest and not too many dead spots. You know - the basics. Iron Man and Spider-Man 2 are the level of "excellence" the moviegoing public expects from movies in this genre. If they want art, they can check out The Hurt Locker playing in the next theater over.
     
  10. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Watchmen is a completely different kind of super hero movie. And I don't think that every super hero movie needs to be made to audience expectation, nor does any other genre. It's good to be surprised, to be challenged.

    Watchmen, when total box office is totaled, domestic and foreign, profited, and profited pretty well. Combine ancillary sales, it made a nice, comfortable bundle of cash for the studios, franklyl, more than I expected, all things considered.

    No reason all superhero films need to be Spider-man, X men, any more than science fiction films need to be all Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.

    Applaud studios take chances. Be thankful when those gambles pay off. Or stop bitching when they keep putting out the same ol' dross, remakes, etc.
     
  11. JacksonArcher

    JacksonArcher Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, Snyder storyboarded the film first. Then he let Gibbons make his contributions after he had done the initial storyboarding.
     
  12. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It felt like a sequel to me as I watched it because not only did I have to keep alert for important character background information, but also for important plot background information as well, and the movie as is was tying up loose ends from whatever had happened before the film started, plus the fact that when the film starts the heroes have already been put out to pasture. It seems like the majority of important events hapened before the film started.

    Yeah, I know, it can be good to start a film in media res, and the most common example is the first Star Wars film, buit they hinted at a great universe, and placdd plot elements exactly when and where we needed them. Watchmen simply meanders, and all we could do wathcing it is hope that we get it. There are some awful performances, shoddy effects, and violence that exists for the sake of itself as well. In a good film, the plot moves at a better clip and the violence serves the story, not vice versa.
     
  13. JacksonArcher

    JacksonArcher Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I liked the sex scene.

    There. I said it. :shifty:
     
  14. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just got the Director's Cut. I haven't seen the theatrical version nor read the graphic novel.

    Interesting film. The opening credits sequence is rather compelling, and I've already watched that a couple of times on its own. Interesting (and somewhat horrifying) to see the world we know spiral off that way.

    It would be helpful to know which version of the film people are critiquing, as I've been led to believe the 30 minutes or so of added footage significantly impacts the picture.
     
  15. Yassim

    Yassim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You do know that Alan Moore put Hendrix in the graphic novel, right?

    Choosing music with lyrics that mirror the action doesn't seem like a "subtle touch" to me, but maybe that's down to taste?
     
  16. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As it turns out, I wasn't speaking literally. The "initial" storyboarding in the loose way I was talking about, was Snyder's copy of Watchmen. The visual look of this movie, which most auteur theorists attribute to the director, came from Dave Gibbons. The news that Gibbons even had a hand in storyboarding the action scenes just makes his contribution even greater.
     
  17. Joel_Kirk

    Joel_Kirk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Actually, there is a special on Alan Moore, posted on Youtube where he reads Rorshach's(sp?) part with a deep growl-like voice; there is a note--somewhere online, I have to find it--where Snyder used Moore's reading as the basis for Haley's part.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKeb...520CB5B0C&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=1

    ;)

    My initial post is talking about the theatrical version...
     
  18. Lapis Exilis

    Lapis Exilis Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which really isn't Shazam's point. Watchmen was a watershed in Western comics because it looked at the format in which graphic stories were told and made use of some of the inherent characteristics of that format which had been scattered about in other works, but never pulled into a coherent whole (see Stone Cold Sisko's comments above) - while simultaneously deconstructing superheroes and exploring some of the inherent contradictions that had arisen in the genre in the Post-VietNam era (primarily the idea that power could ever be wielded in purely good ways). It's the Citizen Kane of comics, and like that movie has some issues from a purely storytelling point of view - because it is not simply a narrative.

    The only way to ever put an authentic version of Watchmen on film would be to use the tropes of superhero films in a similarly holistic way and simultaneously turn the heroic assumptions put forth in superhero movies on their heads. It's not about those movies being dumb or unartistic - quite the opposite. It's about exploring the hidden depths in the assumptions of such tales.

    By adhering so closely to the source material, Snyder managed to miss the entire point of it. He threw some tropes in there, but they were just his favorite ones - not anything he'd given any thought to in regards to the genre. And he also was too faithful to the Cold War/ Post-Watergate aspects of the story which are very specific to their moment in time. Had he used a more Post-9/11 sensibility, he actually would have created a work more faithful to the heart of the book.

    Watchmen is specifically and inescapably "arty". It's a post-modern metanarrative written specifically to be a post-modern metanarrative - it is as much, if not more, about the genre as it is about the story. There was never any chance that it would be along the lines of Iron Man or Spider-Man 2 - that is you could never bend the plot and characters around to that form without producing something completely unrecognizable as Watchmen. The characters are neither original (Rorschach = Travis Bickle) nor engaging. Their coldness and alienation is kind of the point. You can't care about them - they are either monstrous or pathetic people.

    All of which is by way of saying that the goal to make a big budget action movie hit out of Watchmen was misguided from the inception. It made some money, sure, because just about anything attached to a popular written (or drawn) work these days brings people out in droves. But it was bound to be unsatisfying to most - because, as you say, it couldn't fulfill the basic movie "needs" of an audience (it simply doesn't have them in its construction), and it couldn't be what it is if they were trying to make a regular superhero flick out of it.
     
  19. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, the deconstruction aspect is there. But it's severely hampered even in its own terms by the assertion that intellectual dogooders are the worst villains of all. Which may be a shibboleth of reactionary "thinking" but undercuts the entire graphic novel. The mountain labors, and brings forth a mouse. Also, simple physics deconstructs superheroes with an efficiency and ruthlessnes that puts Moore and Gibbons to shame. Every page of Watchmen is haunted by a suspicion of pretense that they're taking superheroes seriously, that they're pretending to put them in the real world. Except the real world isn't real. That's why despite their best will they couldn't help but make Rorschach the hero.
     
  20. FluffyUnbound

    FluffyUnbound Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That was why I thought the opening credits were so brilliant.

    Because they mixed media from live action film to newspaper clippings to living paintings, and because the subtext of what's being shown is a subversion of the media hero-worship being rendered in all three.

    That sort of total home run is hard to keep up for the running time of an entire movie.

    You know, I was one of the few people to defend the sound work and the musical choices in the film, because I thought they were deliberate attempts to bring you out of the film and hit you over the head and say YOU ARE WATCHING A MOVIE. The "Sound of Silence" cue, for example, is so on-the-nose and the volume mixing on it is so inappropriately high that I honestly thought [and think] that it's the kind of postmodernist in-joke you're asking for here.

    I always thought Moore was trying to show you that whatever you think of yourself, there's something in you that sees Rorsharch as a hero. And that that's why you* like comics in the first place. Comics appeal to the part of us that enjoys a catharsis when vicariously experiencing uncomplicated revenge-fantasy direct action.

    *I am using "you" in the general sense here.