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Friday, March 13, 2009

WATCHMEN: Mini Text Review

NO REAL SPOILERSAs you know, my spies are everywhere, reporting back to me all things of screenwriterly/movie interest. This week alone I have received reports of Keira Knightley (or someone who looks rather like her) in a coffee shop in Soho and someone off Eastenders having an argument on their mobile in the middle of the street.

However, my favourite has to be this mini review of the film WATCHMEN I received last night:

Hey, I rmbr [your lad] saying he couldn't wait to see the film Watchmen. Well I've just seen it - don't let him!! Apart from it being one of the shittest films I've ever seen, it contains medium core sex and ridiculously gory violence, ya know bones bein pushed thru skin, arms being sawn off, etc... It ain't your average super hero flick! Even Dr. Manhattan spends the whole film with his flaccid cock swinging all over the shop!

So now you know. Arf.

I'm hearing mixed reviews from the people I know who've seen Watchmen - it appears to be one of those movies you either LOVE or HATE. I haven't seen it yet and am largely ambivalent about it, one of those I'll catch on DVD no doubt, though I can't say I care for the uber-kinky sex kitten outfit the lady Watchman wears... Though if Dr. Manhattan is actually full-on nude, I guess that evens up the score a little (don't they worry about their bits getting roasted or chopped off when fighting crime??).

So - what do people out in www.land reckon? Let us know what you think: remember - if you're going to spoil, label it as such in the comments section. I don't care about spoilers, but a huge amount of people do. Bring it on...

20 comments:

d f mamea said...

the Watchmen graphic novel is no "average super hero" comic, and from what i've read and seen and heard so far, the filmmakers weren't about just making another superhero flick with fast-food tie-ins (not that they'd have any say in the marketing, but i digress).

i've heard good, considered, things about the film, from both fans of the comic and total innocents. i think the film's graphic violence and sex (and "flaccid cock swinging") are an attempt to ground the story in a discomforting possibility: what if costumed heros - and one true, god-like, superhero - walked the earth?

now bring on Miracleman.

DraconianOne said...

All well and good but your correspondent doesn't say why they think it's shit.

I saw it on Tuesday and I liked it (and yes I was familiar with the original but only read it once 15 years ago). It's not a superhero film as such - it's just a film that has superheroes in it. The plot is paper thin but that's because it's a character piece and is very much about the characters.

When you see it, you'll perhaps see that decisions like making Silk Spectre wear kinky fetish outfits is not so random or just appealing to the drooling boys but is very much a comment on the fact that superheroines are always dressed rather questionably. I think there's even a line of dialogue referencing the fact.

The film is not easy to watch - it features a lot of challenging scenes (which I won't spoil unless it's by request) and it is very dark, nihilistic and thought-provoking (and it really is very, very dark). The graphic violence and sex is graphic and some of it shocked even me (some of the violence - the sex was, well, sex despite some of the commments I'd heard) but I think it has to shock to make the point.

As for flacid cock swinging - yes it's there but to be honest, I hardly noticed. Perhaps because I don't have hang ups about it or perhaps because it's not really relevant.

I do think it's something that is worth seeing in the cinema because some of the visuals are stunning and would be so much less on TV (not spoiler because it's in the trailer but scenes with a giant Dr Manhattan in work really well on the big screen because of the scale.)

Last thing: definitely not a kids film. Not just for the violence and sex but because a) they'll get bored and b) it's thematically quite heavy.

Lucy said...

DF - I'm not sure how a "flaccid cock swinging" grounds a story in a reality about god-like super heroes, but I'll watch it first and keep an open mind ; )

Drac - Ah, so they reference the kinky outfit! That's okay then *rolls eyes*

evil twinz said...

I suspect the "paper thin plot" D.O mentions is the reason people are either loving it or hating it, Lucy. The problem with character pieces is you have to care about the characters. I didn't. That's why I noticed that cock too - and no, I don't have any hang ups thanks (I'm not the texter either! Lol).

Chris Regan said...

Saw it last night, and liked it. It's way too long and has some terribly cheesy moments, but generally it's nice to see a film this big spending most of its immense running time on characters and dialogue. The ideas still work and the story is relevent today. For me it could've done with a bit more actual adaptation, but it's such a culturally significant title I can see why they stuck so closely to the source material.

Lucy said...

I honestly cannot imagine a "character driven" plot with super heroes in it. On that basis alone I am intrigued.

Anya said...

Nothing on Earth could make me want to see this movie (besides a gun to my head, obviously). One for the boys and fans, perhaps?

reelcitizen said...

For me the joy was seeing the comic brought to life. In a way it's far to faithful to the source material but seeing it on the big screen with a cool soundtrack made it a pleasure to watch.

The fact that it's such a love letter to the comic does make it a hard sell and I'd find it difficult to recommend to non-fans. In terms of a 'film' there's really hardly any plot and the 80s setting must seem crazy for those not familiar with it.

It's not as realistic or interesting as The Dark Knight but in terms of bringing hard core comic book values to the big screen - adult violence, cheesy dialogue, strong visuals, spandex - it's a fantastic indulgence.

Lucy said...

A well-considered response RC - and I think you're right; I'm almost certain my texter is not a fan. I've never read Watchmen the comic, though I have seen scripts with Watchmen characters in more than once. Hmmmm.

Gotta ask though - Dark Knight is realistic? I was very underwhelmed by that film. I didn't hate it, but I thought the Joker was oversold and the general characterisation - Harvey Dent in particular - was not developed enough. Looked good though.

reelcitizen said...

I'm a big fan of The Dark Knight - it ditched the gothic overtones and went for more of a crime thriller approach. It's almost like a Michael Mann film with different shades of good/bad fighting for control over a city which has almost lost its humanity.

Watchmen is similar - with each character representing a different take on how and if humanity can be saved. Although the themes are slightly lost amongst Snyder's visual approach and because the book is over 20 years old it seems a bit old-fashioned in a way. The story itself is rushed in the film so whatever director's cut comes out will hopefully make it feel more balanced and I think then it will start to gain a cult following.

DraconianOne said...

Part of the problem is that even if you don't know the Watchmen per se, you probably do benefit from knowing about other comic book heroes, their history and significance because in many ways it's a commentary on those heroes but very very extreme. The Watchmen have parallels to characters like Captain America, Superman, Batman and so on.

That you, Lucy, picked up on Silk Spectre's costume and said "That's ridiculous!" is exactly what Alan Moore did when he wrote it. It's not just a kinky outfit like you see in any monthly issue of X-Men or Wonder Woman, it really is suspenders and garters. It was Alan Moore saying "Look! This is ridiculous!" You can roll your eyes as much as you like and to be fair, I do think that's one of the beats that the film misses but it's certainly the point of the source.

It's a difficult film to sell as well. On the surface, it's a superhero film and people think they know what they're expecting: good guys in costumes beat up the bad guys and save the planet. Is that not the staple of superhero films every here whether it's Superman taking on Lex Luthor or The Punisher taking on the mob. The Watchmen aren't heroes: Rorshach is a violent, misanthropic sociopath, The Comedian is a right-wing, neo-fascist misogynist and Nite Owl is an overweight, impotent middle-aged man.

This is the film which looks at Captain America and says "He's not a hero, he's a right-wing propaganda tool that's protecting the interests of the USA". It points at Batman and says "He's not a hero - he's just a captalist poster boy defending the opulent rich from the working classes." It laughs at Wonder Woman because she's not so much hero than an adolescent teenagers, fetishistic wet dream.

So - difficult to adapt, difficult to sell to anyone who doesn't know what they're getting into.

I think Evil Twinz does make a good point though - in general, the characters are pretty unlikeable and hard to care about. Perhaps that's the only thing that having some familiarity with the characters helps in that you know from the outset what they're like.

Still, if you not sure you can stomach the violence, sex or cocks, you could always watch The Incredibles which is pretty much the same story but for kids.

Lucy said...

End of the day though Drac, regardless of the costume being a "the point" or not, Silk Spectre is still going to provide a hell of a lot of five finger fun for many and exacerbate the problem of female objectification. I'll never understand the idea that women who are objectified are somehow empowered by the looks of lustful males - or the notion they're being ironic.

You've done a fantastic job of talking me out of seeing Watchmen though - I hated THE INCREDIBLES! ; )

Scaramanga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scaramanga said...

Hey,

I went in not expecting anything special and I got what I asked for.

It was an ok film dont get me wrong. But, as with most comic based films there is a serious lack of character development and this one wasn't even structured all that well.

It felt disjointed, just as the story and jeopardy was building up it knocked it back down with more backstory.

You wouldn't be wrong to say that this film was ultra violent, but in a way it was the type of violence that is so over the top it just doesn't seem real.

I would say that a film like robocop is much more harrowing to watch (I am thinking of when he has his body blown to bits) as that seems much more realistic than this kind of fantasty violence.

Who cares what the female lead was wearing or whether Dr. Manhattans knob was swinging everywhere? it lends itself to the overall style of the story world. Although if I am being completely honest dr manhahattans bits were a tad annoying although you might notice they never show it when he is 50 feet tall!!

Overall I would give this a 3 out of 5. As was said before it was a tad long and with a ridiculous amount of montages, lack of characters you care about and visuals which, if you have already seen the 300 then, well, you've already seen it.

As for being a guys movie...perhaps, although my girlfriend came of her own free will and she came out thinking the exact same as i did.

It was ok.

Oh I couldn't disagree more lucy about the joker. I feel the Joker character was the perfect opposing force for batman, always on message pushing him to his limits.

I felt that was a masterful piece of writing, maybe not one for the people who love "art", and I am not saying it wasn't without its flaws, and I certainly agree with your points about the dent character in particular. But I also felt it was certainly a good step in the right direction for action films in general.

More intelligent action films are what is needed.

Oh and depending on how old your child is I would say it is your call. There were a couple of 13year olds who went to see it with their parents in front of me, it was more embarrasing for the mum than it was unsettling for them i think.

Charles

Lucy said...

I actually agree Scara, The Joker *should* have been the ultimate nemesis for Batman - but IMHO, too many extraneous subplots and constant paying off via dialogue ("Some men want to watch the world burn") denigrated his status. Gordy Hoffman explains this problem far better than I ever could.

coffee maker said...

something that stands out to me about Watchmen is the amazing character development; they do a great job making each person in that movie a whole, unique person

Scaramanga said...

Thats a great link.

Sometimes when other people point out other flaws in a film it gives a complete different twist to it.

Yeah it goes back to the old show dont tell scenario eh?

Some very valid points indeed on that link Lucy.

Charles

Andrea said...

As an accompanying girlfriend, lacking graphic-novel geek status and caring passionately about the portrayal of women in cinema, I thought it was worth adding my opinions.

I really liked Watchmen. It was too long. But I loved all the back-story, far more than the "saving the world" plot. The characters were truly refreshing, and I liked the way the history gradually unfolded through the detective style story of the first two thirds; structurally it really did it for me up to that point. I've never read the graphic novel so I would disagree with those who say you have to be a boy or a fan to enjoy it.

I wonder how much the character of Silk Spectre II would have been improved by a better actress. It was great to see a woman with some good action sequences, but her story was the least interesting of all the heroes; while the male characters were all fundamentally flawed, she just had some boy trouble. I agree Lucy, about putting a woman in that kind of costume, even when done in an 'ironic', self-referential way, it ultimately just reinforces the very thing it is trying to distance itself from. Why couldn't she wear dungarees? You can of course argue that even the 'geeky' superhero fit the conventional mould of male sexual stereotype with his muscly chest and powerful shoulders, but the variety of male central characters dffuses the potency of that image. With only one woman in the central story, she becomes symbolic of a whole gender.

Having said all that, considering how women are typically portrayed in action films, Watchmen compares quite favourably. But out of the last 5-10 movies I have seen, including Watchmen, the only one in which a woman hasn't been raped or threatened with rape is one that was made almost seventy years ago. Is that realism or progress?

Antony said...

I think if you've read the graphic novel (and enjoyed it) you'll love the film.

The cock can't be cut off because Dr Manhatten is indestructable.

And the sex-kitten outfit is actually referenced in the film - "I can't believe we used to dress up like that."

It's defo an adult movie, so keep the kiddies out of sight if you rent it.

Lucy said...

Andrea - rape or threat of rape is a staple of films against female characters, sadly. Sometimes it is justified, but rarely in my experience.

Anthony - thanks for the tip, I suppose I better have a look at the comic...