Tuesday, March 17, 2009
NERRRRRRRRRRD!!!!!!! vol. 10
since i've decided that i simply don't have either the patience or the interest to sit through Zach Snyder's WHAAAAA???MEN movie, i've decided to jump the gun, and base my review on the clips i have seen, since it is my belief that i have seen and heard enough to make a learned judgment call.
this thing is a clown car wreck. all that opening credit stuff is ridiculous, overblown, and obvious. there is no reason to show the Silhouette kissing a girl beyond the image of "OMG GIRL KISS SEXY FUN TIME". The slow motion was so trying that one wonders if maybe they should have shown a series of still photographs of the characters in lieu of this hyper stylized dreck.
so much of the story has been pasteurized and pulverized into jerky for mass consumption. example; the Crimebuster... excuse me.. "Watchmen" meeting...another one of my favorite moments from the book that has been completely lobotomized here. I guess it does sort of illustrate the same point as it did in the book, but what was really great about that moment was the aging, pudgy Captain Metropolis trying to relive the glory days of the Minutemen by putting together this new breed of costumed heroes, not realizing that the world is just too dark and cynical a place for them to really have an impact. and the name he chose for the group ("the Crimebusters") was so lamely generic that it was sad, and that further illustrated how out-of-touch Metropolis had become. in the movie, without Metroplis, the comedic tragedy aspect of it has been removed. Metropolis really is the heart of that scene; this old-timer who gets blindsided and humiliated by an old colleague (Comedian) and is left pathetically baffled when his idea for a group goes south. Again, in the movie it might mean the same thing sort of; that the new heroes aren't able to come together for a "common" good since they are all in their own way completely detached from the world and almost exclusively invested in their own delusions to fully understand the severity of their surroundings, but without Metropolis as the organizer/Minutemen holdover, it looses its dimension.
the performances? that dude playing Ozymandias fucking eats shit. He's just doing a stock super-villain performance, robbing Andrian Veidt of his conflicting dimensions. Sally Juspecyk and Dan Drieberg are milquetoast, just too bland and inconsequential to bear further observation. Crudup's Dr. Manhattan is okay i suppose, but still falls flat. of all the performances, Jackie Earl Haley's turn as Rorschach made my skin crawl the least. seems like they toned down Rorschach's voice from the early previews (a little less gravel in his throat), but it still sounds too Nick Nolte for my liking. That voice isn't chilling, it sounds like a skinny dude trying way too hard to sound gruff. the way it's read lacks the chilling detachment that makes the journal entries so incredible. He sounds like a guy who's going out of his way to appear edgy and demented as opposed to just letting the words speak for his psychosis... if that makes any sense. it just takes me right out of it. this is not a minute detail as i see it; the voice may in fact be the most defining element of Rorschach's personality, since his face has no real expression. If you listen the to way Moore has read it (ignoring his british accent), Rorschach is supposed to have a distant, numb, dead-to-the-world tone in his speech, like someone who has been in constant psychological pain his whole life, because that's what he has experienced. He's even described by Laurie and his psychiatrist in the book as having a monotone voice.
the merchandising. the essence of something like say Transformers has always been "BUY THE TOYS YOU LITTLE SHIT". it's a little hypocritical to see something like Watchmen, which sort of exists to take the piss out of that sort of mentality properties like Transformers exploit, to have a flashy FX fight scene driven movie (complete with video game/coffee mug/action figure tie-ins), validating the opinion that the only reason a movie version was made was to make money from ubiquitous product rather than doing the source material (or even the genre) justice. it's just more product placement. again, that's OK when you're talking about something like G.I. JOE or Transformers, cause that's what those have always been about; long-form commercials designed to sell colorful plastic things to impressionable children (and sad lonley adults). probably the reason Nite Owl visits Ozymandias instead of Rorschach (as it happend in the book) is because Rorschach calls out Ozymandias on his "cashing in" of his reputation visa vi toy figurines and cartoons. can't go damning ourselves, can we?
i do think that fans of the book will understand the movie (that is to say they will understand where it succeeds and where it fails) better than someone who is not a fan, or someone who has never read/heard of it. that doesn't mean they'll enjoy it, but they'll "get it" more than someone who is new or alien to the source material.
on RT, a bulk of the bad reviews it's getting sort of remind me of the bad reviews Fight Club got; a bunch of uppity "progressives" who can't handle something so blatantly out of their comfort zone, something that deals with extreme and/or pervasive themes in a more-than-obvious shade of gray fashion, so they lash back at it rather than trying to understand where its coming from. they see it without actually seeing it.
i also love the assholes who have said the film adaptation "exposes the flaws" in Alan Moore's work. what fucking flaws are those? see, this is what i was worried about with this movie; that people who know nothing of the root material would needlessly trash said material based on a gutted interpretation from some all-blow no-show newjack fratboy cunt.
so i guess the book's "flaw" is that it can't be translated to a film?
yeah, the bashing of Moore is fairly preposterous in this case. Like there's something wrong with the guy who fucking CREATED it just wanting Watchmen to be comic and nothing more; not a movie or a toy line or a video game. the whole idea was these were characters you didn't want to take home with you beyond the story. These weren't characters to be looked up to or played with as dolls or characters in a computer game. They were psychologically damaged, morally confused, sexually misplaced, emotionally corrupt, and not exactly a fun time. all the things that make Watchmen an amazing book are all the things that don't exactly make for a "marketable product", but yet here it is, Rorschach being played up as a gravel throated bad-ass instead of a solitary extremist, the element of his character that makes him so intriguing.
it seems like the problem with the movie is similar to the problem most comics had post-Watchmen in the late 80s-90s; so many creators took some of the surface elements of Watchmen (the violence, the sex, the nihilism) and used that as their template, completely ignoring the intellect of the book, the ideas it presented, and just fed us a lot of ultraviolent hyper-sexualized nonsense that was every bit as adolescent as comics had been before, but now the titties were bigger and the super-heroes were all generic cynics who murdered people. the only book from the 90s i can think of that truly understood what Watchmen was about was Neil Gaiman's Sandman. but i digress. the point is the film has more in common with the hollow knock-offs and naive wannabes that emerged in the wake of Alan Moore's triumph than it does with the source material some accuse it of being "too slavish" towards.
they've captured some of the visual moments fairly accurately, but they've completely ignored the soul of the book. the movie looks, sounds, and feels all wrong. it might be "good for what it is" (another empty phrase that people use to justify their love for garbage), but it really shouldn't even exist.
it's like the film versions of Bonfire of the Vanities or the Great Gatsby; ambitious, but tremendously flawed/clunky/awkward in performance and execution. if Terry Gilliam; the guy who made Brazil, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and so forth couldn't do Watchmen justice (by his own admission), than what makes people think the dingleberry behind a flashy slow-jerk like 300 can pull it off? It's all just hollow play-acting across 3D recreations of some of the books key moments, only without anything that makes those moments so key. Snyder has no sense of tone, no real vision of any kind, and was just in waaaaaaay over his head.
F to this.