3 reasons you should stop hating the Watchmen movie

 THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS

Since this post has already mentioned the well thought out and impressive opening credits, I will not be including them on this list.

3.  THE OPENING FIGHT SCENE

I will concede that most of the actual fight scenes in this movie are over stylized and silly, but the detail of this opening scene is the perfect attention grabber for new and old fans of the comic.  As the Comedian watches TV, John McLaughlin clucks his famous phrase “On a scale of 0 to 10—with 0 representing zero possibility and 10 representing metaphysical certitude—what is the chance of [nuclear war]?”  He’s portrayed as middle aged, so we can assume the time period is around the 1980’s (as he is 85 as of this post).  We learn about Dr. Manhattan and Russia’s continued efforts to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, the audience is even given the famous countdown clock.

The real fun begins when a shadowy figure in stylish black clothing (Veidt) breaks down the Comedian’s front door.  He begins to beat up the Comedian, all to Nat King Cole’s incredibly soothing “Unforgettable.”  The Comedian shoots his television, stopping the ad he was watching for a split second before it dies.

nostalgia
Death by Veidt

The rest of the film is about as heavy handed as it gets, but this hint is so small it’s almost subliminal.  The fight scene takes a turn for the worse here with some of the most forced fighting in the movie, but even that has its own unique intrigue.  Veidt moves as if he’s practiced every punch over and over until it meets the Comedian’s face with the most affect.  Again, the subliminal hints of a choreographed fight link to later scenes in the movie with similar movements from Veidt.

2.  THE MUSIC

This film has an incredibly diverse and interesting soundtrack for a movie about costumed superheroes.  (Again, this is excluding the Opening Credits, which have already been discussed in the post linked above.)

During Jon Osterman’s transformation into Dr. Manhatten, Philip Glass’ “Pruit Igoe” (from Koyaanisqatsi) is playing.  The placement and timing of the music is so perfectly snyched that the drama is heightened to a level the comic could never reach.  The subtlety is absolutely beautiful.

[aggressive dramatic music]
[dramatic music]
 On a slightly less subtle note, there is also the breathtakingly heavy handed reference to Apocalypse Now when Dr. Manhatten and the Comedian are fighting in Vietnam.  It’s so brash and fumbling that it makes you pay attention after the sobering funeral of the Comedian, which is another great musical moment, directly before this scene.

Overall the movie jumps from musical number to musical number, almost amounting to Hollywood’s most expensive and impressive music video.

1.  THE ACTING

For me, the most outstanding acting came from Jackie Earl Haley (Rorschach/Walter Kovacs).  Haley masters the mask he wears and truly makes it, as Rorschach would say, his face.  He uses body posturing and well placed head tilts to perfectly express his characters feelings.  Haley wore a gauze mask during filming, but his voice is still clear (as clear as Rorschach’s voice can be).

Of course, Rorschach wouldn’t be complete without Nite Owl II (actor Patrick Wilson).  All of Wilson’s scenes are filled with palpable awkwardness and self deprecation.  He grasps the character of Nite Owl II so well, it’s almost painful.  Haley and Wilson create an amazing on camera report between their characters, making this film about costumed capers highly believable.

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 8.59.42 PM
Tact.

Matthew Goode (Ozymandias) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (the Comedian) do great jobs making the most unlikable characters in the movie layered and, almost, approachable.  They seem to get bogged down with a lot of the more stylized fight scenes, but it never becomes bulky (like it sometimes does with Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II).

That being said, Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre II) is charming, but can never manage to conquer her sillier stunts.  She’s part of two scenes that could have used some cutting.  Her handling of Billy Crudup’s Dr. Manhattan is quite impressive.  She always seems to know where to look and how to deal with someone what would be either not in the scene with her or in a motion capture costume.  On the same subject, Billy Crudup does wonderful voiceover work and makes Jon Osterman seem like a character I’d like to meet in real life.  He brings life to the utterly unfeeling Dr. Manhattan.’

Overall, the acting makes up for the more drawn out sections of this movie and, even though some fans think otherwise, makes the movie a highly entertaining adaptation.

All images are screen caps from the 2009 Director’s Cut of Watchmen, directed by Zach Snyder.  YouTube videos belong to their respective owners.

  6 comments for “3 reasons you should stop hating the Watchmen movie

  1. Anthony Seippel
    February 22, 2013 at 12:27 am

    About time someone stood up for the film. It may have missed out on some of the truly cool and heartfelt moments (like when Rorschach goes to get his backup uniform and finds himself feeling sorry for the young child of his landlord as well as the fact that said uniform was the one from his first killing and had the trademark bloodstain), but it really did manage to do the near impossible, take the convoluted and at times overbearing story of Watchman and put it on screen. Yeah it missed some things but it did a lot of things right. And if you pay close enough attention, the things missed are usually referenced in the set with photos in frames hinting at what was left out. Paying close attention to these little “Easter eggs” reveals an attention to detail that would impress Moore himself, or at least make him stroke that magnificent beard of his. But people write the film off so quickly. I actually prefer the film because of its handling of the things Veidt did. It is much more plausible and sensible to make Dr. Manhattan look like the bad guy (in light of his breakdown on national television) to unify the world instead of creating a completely new race that was to be teleported to NY, flail around a bit, and then die. If I already have to accept this radically altered timeline in which there is a blue godlike naked guy running around all the time, then it might help me in the believability department if you didn’t try and tell me that a couple of scientists aboard a ship made a cicloptic squid alien and teleported it to New York. I mean, what if it didn’t unify anybody and the war just became 3 sided with the Aliens as player 3? At least the Dr. Manhattan version had the backing with his breakdown. I dunno man… I just see the film get a lot of hate that it shouldn’t. Not when Snyder’s previous film (300), added in a whole boring part about Queen Gorgo just so she could be raped by that corrupt guy, not truly redeemed for it, and then have her actions rendered meaningless since Leonidas dies anyway and he already stated that his death would be enough to bring the rest of the army. I mean shit. What if Snyder had given Silk Specter II more of a role! God forbid her whiny ass got any more screen time than it already did. I know I kinda went far off with this comment but what I am really tryen to say is for what it was, it could have been WAY worse.

  2. February 24, 2013 at 7:09 pm
    2. THE MUSIC This film has an incredibly diverse and interesting soundtrack for a movie about costumed superheroes.

    Personally, I found the music overall to be really obvious and cliche. I mean, in several cases (Hallelujah, Flight of the Valkyries, Sound of Silence, even Koyaanisqatsi) the music’s juxtaposition with their respective scenes just seem like it was meant as a joke. Instead of finding myself immersed in the characters, I found I was evaluating the intent of musical choices. It took me out of the movie, in other words.

    I guess it’s intended to help locate the events of the movie in the 1970s and 80s, and you might even say that the “brash and fumbling” score matches the bright, nostalgic color scheme of the comic, but I don’t know that I’m ready to give Snyder et al. that much credit.

    But that’s my opinion.

    I did like some of the acting a lot, especially Jackie Earle Haley. Billy Crudup too.

  3. bleuskeyes
    March 10, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Watchmen has been one of my favorite graphic novels for as long as I can remember, so naturally I was very excited when the movie came out. I went to see it at midnight and when I left, I was oddly disappointed. I will agree with you that Jackie Earl Haley did a fantastic job in the film depicting Rorshach, which pleased me because he is my favorite character. However, that was basically the end of what pleased me about the movie. I honestly did not like the music, I felt that it was over dramatic and took away from the movie. In fact, I felt like a lot of the scenes were overdone as well, to the point of being cheesy and distracting. In addition, I understand that when a book is being transformed into a movie, there will be changes made to it, it appears that is inevitable. However, I think my biggest qualm with the movie, the number one thing that made me not like it, was the changing of the end of the movie. I do not know whether it was changed due to time constraints or if it was because they felt a certain sense of obligation since the events seemed eerily similar to a terrorist attack on New York. If the change was made to fit into a post-9/11 society, then I guess I can understand that, although I still don’t approve. I did not find the movie’s ending very interesting, especially when compared to the ending in the graphic novel. I suppose that if I had never read the graphic novel, I would like the movie. I have talked to tons of people who have never picked up Moore’s novel and they said they loved the movie. However, whenever I ask anyone who liked the novel what they thought of the movie, the response is always instantly that they hated it.

  4. penguinxrox
    March 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Personally, I loved the movie. I was a little disappointed in the changes they made (like mentioned before when Rorschach went to get his costume, and other little things like the TV on when Dan and Laurie were on the couch, and the police knocking when Jon came for Laurie), but some changes were better. The fight scenes were amazing, I think that is what made the movie so real, they gave me goose bumps. The music, however, I’m iffy on. While some music was good, other songs made me want to turn the movie off because they started to annoy me. The acting was amazing. Haley did an awesome job (although I couldn’t stop seeing Freddy while watching), and every other actor is what made the graphic novel come to life (except the guy who played Dan, I couldn’t stop seeing Josh from Insidious, haha) which helped cover up the music. Another thing that made the movie great was that it at least tried to keep up with the methods made in the novel like the symmetry and acts of spying. Besides the music, I 100% agree with this! I was worried no one liked the film version.

  5. ldry
    March 14, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    CAUTION More Movie Spoilers Below: Overall, I was pretty satisfied with the movie and would have to agree with most of the things in this post. I watched it with my roommates a day or two after we finished discussing the book in class. Having all the material fresh in my mind, I thought that the movie followed the book really well. There were a few minor details left out, but all of the main pieces of the plot were present and accounted for. Though I felt that some of the fight scenes were overly violent (it seemed excessively gory and very unnecessary to include the breaking of limbs with visible bones and the part with the saw right before Rorschach makes his escape from prison), I really liked the stop motion aspect of it. It brought the graphic novel feel into the characters’ movements. I would have to agree with Professor Whalen about the music choices. Although I love many of the songs that were included in the film (The Sound of Silence especially), they were inappropriate just because of the mere fact that they were way too obvious. During the opening credits, I recognized some of the actors’ names and thought that they would be ill fitting for the characters that they were portraying, but throughout the course of the film, I became increasingly happy with their performances. Probably my favorite thing about movie version was the ending. In the graphic novel, I felt that the appearance of giant squid monster was very unlikely and unexpected. By having Ozymandias mimic an explosion exactly like one that Dr. Manhattan could produce, Dr. Manhattan was given more of a reason to leave Earth and it seemed like something that could actually happen. The explosion seemed much more fitting for the ending rather than having an unrealistic monster attack the city.

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