Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Finally caught up with Watchmen (2009), directed by Zack Snyder of 300 fame. Said to be "unfilmable", the idea of the cult classic "literature comic" being adapted for movie format languished in "development hell" since back in 80s. Alan Moore is critical of the adaptation as he was generally not comfortable as to how anyone would supposedly be able to adapt one of his masterpiece into a positive experience for the general audience. He may be right, as evidenced by previous poor adaptation of his works, most noticeably in From Hell (2001) and to lesser extent, the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). Furthermore, the original book somehow lacked the dramatic and cinematic properties required for a movie. Esther could not comprehend the movie storyline and plot, and as such a reading of the original book might be handy to know more. What this movie manage to do is giving "audio and visual" dimension to the characters and the world of which the story took place. It is also nice to see how the Minutemen and the Watchmen were incorporated into certain American historical events in the beginning of the movie, in a montage sequence (e.g. Silhouette kissing the nurse in the iconic Life photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, JFK being assassinated by The Comedian, which is only being hinted at in the comic, Dr. Manhattan taking a photo shot of Neil Armstrong during the walk on the moon, Ozymandias attending the premier opening of Studio 54 as well as series of event unfolding around the world like Malcolm Browne photo of Buddhist monk Hòa thượng Thích Quảng Đức self immolation as a protest against religious prosecution in Vietnam, etc.), accompanied by Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A'Changin. Throughout the movie, some famous past and present personalities could be seen as well (Andy Warhol, Annie Leibowitz). It pretty much follows the "main" sequence of the book except for the ending, of which Dr. Manhattan is duped by "world's smartest man" Ozy into developing free energy for the world when in truth, he wanna replicate the Doc's H-Bomb power to destroy major cities in the world to divert and (successfully) stop the impending nuclear war between Nixon's America and Brezhnev's Soviet Union (in the book, Ozy created a monster squid like creature with psychokinesis power, and used it to massacre the entire NY city population). The visual is nice to watch and certain sequences are "expanded" upon, particularly fight scenes. However, the manner of which the non-powered Watchmen fight (except for the Doc) is kinda too "awesome", making them look as if each has got some sort of super strength and dexterity. I mean, Ozy kinda perfected his physical prowess but the others too? Bones get snapped and walls get punch through, bodies sent flying after being kicked...hurm. And the violent scenes are expanded upon too (bodies literally explode when pointed at by the Doc.). Blood and gore aplenty. The casts are nice to watch, except for the CGI Doc, who spoke like a wuss. His nakedness is also kinda distracting. But with expansion, comes the contraction or even elimination. Some crucial sequences are totally ignored, like what about that kid and the news vendor guy? Or the psychiatrist who was so perturbed by Rorschach revelation of who he really was affecting his personal life? Hurm. And the parting shot to Ozy is delivered by Nite Owl II instead of the Doc. In the book, the Doc said to Ozy that irregardless, "nothing ever ends", a quite an irritating, ambiguous, suggestion as to how events would probably unfold again (i.e. Seymore reaching out for Rorschach's tell-all journal). But in the movie, Nite Owl II, emotional from the death of Rorschach at the hand of the Doc, confronted Ozy and said "You did not save the world! You mutilated it!" or something like that. Like Peter Jackson's trilogy adaptation of Tolkien's Lord of The Ring, sometimes one is just limited to extracting the essence of the original, slap on some fluffs and present it to the audience for a totally different experience (btw, if one were to adapt faithfully to LOTR, I have a feeling one would get a Bollywood trilogy instead, what with all those singing and poem reading sessions they have within each chapter). But like mentioned earlier, better read the original before watching it. The movie, is, personally, sort of a homage to the classic printed version.

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