Mar 10th, 2009, 05:05 AM
I saw the previews for this film, and found it midly intriguing and left it at that until I heard of the HUGE pre-orders of tickets and thought, "there must be something to this". I had heard of the watchmen comics before, but seeing as how I was never a big of these overly thought-provoking social commentary pieces I ignored it all these years until just last week when I read the whole thing in one shot. Simply put, the book itself is AMAZING, even to a guy like me who writes off similar books as pretentious crap. Upon finishing the series though, three things became apparent to me that would make this film IMPOSSIBLE to translate into a single film.
1. This is a very wordy series with next to no filler (The pirate side-story excluded.) Seriously, ingnore the special interviews/documents at the end of the books and just read all twelve issues. I think there's something along the line of 6 HOURS of dialog, and that doesn't include time for shots of action scenes or dramatic vistas. It seems to me this book could only be translated to a mini-series and NOT a film. It is simply too long and there isn't a single conversation that can be cut without removing either a crucial backstory, or a situation that'll be used for an emotional payoff later.
2. Upon first reading the book it becomes apparent that the visual style of the book is terribly terribly bad on purpose. Upon further inspection, this bad visual style is crucial to the comments that the book tries to put across. From the "silver age" first generation to the "holy impractical costumes and pot bellies batman" next generation to the "kids love XTREMEZ" designs of Dr. Manhattan and the final version of the comedian, this book is a quite blatent pardoy of how bad comic book designs were and how badly they translate to real life. Of course a film is pretty close to real life visually and seeing as how hollywood visual designers are complete morons they had to ruin this aspect of the film as just from the previews, it is apparent that even though the film is supposed to be set in the 70's they gave all the heroes modern movie style costumes. Miss Jupiter II, instead of wearing basically a swimsuit with a nightie over it, is in some lame xmen the movie ripoff getup, nightowl, instead of looking like the dork wanna be he is (think addam west's batman) looks all dark and cool and the comedian looks like something out of batman forever, which isn't too far off, but still. Even poor rorshach wasn't immune. See if you read the book it becomes apparent that this guy isn't exactly clean, in fact he's down right filthy. He picks up his costume from a new york alley for christs sake! Also it is explained in the book that his mask is made by suspended fluid sealed between two layers of latex, in other words, those "bloody scream" masks you see at halloween. I'm still on the fence as to if the "magic cloth" look effects the character adversely though.
3. Sort of related to #2, but a unique problem in it's own right is the fact that with the exception of Dr. M, Jupiter Girl and the rich guy (sorry I can never remember how to spell his name right) ALL of the characters in watchmen are down right FUGLY. This is a CRUCIAL part of the book as it mirrors the sentiment "on paper super heroes are a good idea, in real life not so much". Night Owl II is fat pudgy dork who's a glorified fanboy straight out of comicon with too much time and money on his hands. Rorshach is a down right fulgy little imp of a man and his appearance is a CRUCIAL part of his character. I watched the trailer right after I was done reading, and sure enough, all of the characters are pretty boys. They even went so far as to remove the scar from modern-day comedians face, which again, was a crucial part of his character, symbolically representing the emotional scars he had carried all of this years.
And finally something intangible that I'm certain they couldn't put in the film due to all of the above is the thought-provoking ending of the series. This is one of these books in which different people can get diferent things out of it, but for me at least, it came out as a re-evaluation of what exactly a hero is. At the beginning of the series you are introduced to this very dark, almost evil rorshach and this band of goody-goody "true" superheroes as well is this almost imhumanly bad comedian. By the end of the series, due to backstory and the exploration of the reasons this individuals became heroes as well as their reactions to the ending, everything flips. Rorshach, is the only true hero in the book, with the rest turning out to be pretentious, self-absorbed pricks. It's important to realize that rorshach is the ONLY character in the book that simply wanted justice in the world brining about the moral that why you are being heroic is far more important that any herioc deeds you do at the end of the day. The comedian turns out the be the most human of the characters, despite his impressive list of flaws possibly understanding the grander scheme of things far better than the god-like mr. M or the genius pretty boy know it all. This drive home the old "with great power comes great responsibility" gimmick and that knowledge is power and not the other way around.
There's no possible way these things could be fleshed out in a single 2 hours of film and because of this I've ironically chosen to skip the film that inspired me to read the book in the first place. I suggest everyone else do so as well. Simply read the book, realize how terrible the film must be and simply let it got, possibly to watch it on cable some night a year or two from now.