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March 2017

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rengeek kit & tilda lucifer/gabriel

i have watched the watchmen

Sunday, for a brief break in the unpacking (on the "leave the house so your break does not consist of finding other tasks to do" theory) I went to see Watchmen with The Jeff.

It was, in fact, quite good, though I think the denouement was seriously overplayed. But hey, that's not unfaithful to the original.

On thing that really struck me, however, was the characterization of the violence. Because there wasn't just one kind of violence in this film (which is, you know, not unexpectedly an extremely violent film) but rather moments of just about everything from extremely comic-booky superheroic combat, to Hong Kong martial arts poetry-of-ultraviolence, to cinema verite, to splatterpunk.

And I thought it was particularly interesting in terms of storytelling choices how that violence was used.



Rorschach was exceptional. Jackie Earle Haley has totally converted me into a fan, and I'd never heard of him before. Oh, and IMDB tells me he'll be in Shutter Island. Score. I commented after the movie that "Rorschach is Dexter Morgan done right," and I kind of hold to that. (Of course, Dexter's supposed to be a Ted Bundyesque charming sociopath, but you know what I mean.)

I was somewhat unsettled by the cheering teenage Rorschach fans on our immediate left. Ahem.

Anyway, Rorschach is splatterpunk. His violence is well into Poe's grotesque, with severed limbs, snapping fingers, walls of blood, and folks dropped down elevator shafts.

The only time he drifts into the comic-book metaphor is when he's fighting Ozymandias (I loved the dual pronunciation of the name. Win.), and until the absolute end of the movie, everybody drifts into comic-book metaphor when fighting Ozymandias. His metaphor trumps everyone else's. Even the Comedian, whose other fight scenes are shown with a brutal realism that would not have been out of place in a David Cronenberg film (when he kicked Sally in the stomach, even one of the teenaged Rorschach fans grunted in sympathy), gets a comic-book fight with The Man In Black.

In between these three poles lie Dan and Laurie, who collectively have a kind of Hong Kong action movie buddy pic thing going on. It's got the element of ultraviolence--compound fractures and cracked heads--combined with the comic-book reality of perfectly timed punches and fighting in high heels.

(In two totally unrelated notes, man, there sure were a lot of white people in that property. Also, can we talk about the unconvincing age makeup on Carla Gugino? Hiring a woman my age to play the role of a woman in her sixties strikes me as, well, wincingly Hollywood.)

But when Nite Owl fights Ozymandias, he slips entirely into the comic-book metaphor, where every punch is a wildly telegraphed roundhouse blow and swirling capes dominate the panels. Until the end, when it's Dan beating up Adrian, close in, face to face, and we're back in the land of Cronenberg: tight, realistic, unpretty violence. The real world is beating the shit out of the comic books.

Very cool. Very cool indeed.

I wish they'd let Jon keep his killer exit line.



In other news, the snot fairy is still in residence, which made climbing last night less fun than it might have been. I'm going to try to make it to the gym today, though, as I'm pretty sure I'm no longer contagious, and the body requires exercise.

Comments

sounds like another hyper cool thing i am too old to appreciate. I am so bored with gore and sadism in the movies...
I generally am, too, but this is gore with a point, mostly. (One of the characters is a sociopathic masked avenger. The narrative acknowledges that this is kind of fucked up, rather than reveling in it.)
I'm looking forward to watching the film again to pay attention to the different fighting styles. A friend pointed out how "gymnastic" Ozymandias' fighting style is comparatively to Rorschach's brutal street-fighter boxing style.

I was ok with the age make-up. I think I would've been more disturbed with two actors playing the same character in different time periods than the same actor in not-so-great age make-up. There were a number of points in the film where the make-up in general was a little off.

Jackie Earle Haley was really great in Little Children (which also has a really fabulous performance by Patrick Wilson without the weight he gained for Watchmem).
You have a point there. I'm so used to different actors that I barely notice it anymore. But yeah, I can see how it would be a judgment call.
Okay, so, how long were you waiting to use that subject heading?

busted

...twenty years? Give or take?
Hey, um, did any folks in your theater, um, *laugh* during the attempted rape scene?

This has been reported as being a bit, I guess, not uncommon. And the scene itself will be hard enough to watch (for values of watch that mean "put my face in my hands and listen and wince), but I think if people laughed through it I might have to leave.
I suspect if anybody who is not a sociopath is laughing during that scene, it's with discomfort. All we got was a lot of people squirming and making "ugh" noises.

I Never Read The Novel

But I sure did enjoy the movie. I didn't notice the different portaits of violence, but you're right about that. I would have liked more background on Ro's mask, and on some of the earlier heros, but oh well, guess I'll have to read the grafnov one of these days.

Re: I Never Read The Novel

The mask background IS in the book. *g*
This is a very neat analysis. I'm trying to figure out how it fits into the thing mirrorthaw and I noticed, which is that the big difference between the book and the movie is that the movie isn't trying to deconstruct superheroes at all. It loves superheroes, whereas the book is tired and ironic and intent on making the point that these people are all deeply dysfunctional.

For instance, I love the fact that the movie gave Laurie more agency, but in so doing, it undercut Moore's point, which is that Laurie never wanted to be a superhero; it was her mother's doing, half wish fulfillment and half marketing ploy. (I also notice that the movie completely skipped the whole question of Laurie's surname--what's the matter, guys, couldn't you find anyone to tell you how to pronounce Juspeczyk? --and that, too, is an evasion of the degree to which Laurie's superhero career, like her mother's, was aimed at the media) And, as mirrorthaw pointed out to me, it changes the import of the scene in which Rorschach is captured significantly when he jumps through the window and comes down fighting--instead of spraining his ankle.

Also, the movie doesn't recognize any of the irony surrounding Adrian, whose claim to be the Smartest Man Alive is--like the original Silk Spectre's entire existence--a marketing ploy. Adrian is a marketing genius: that's what he does. That's what drives both his career and his plot to save the world. He has none of Matthew Goode's quiet dignity. Adrian gloats. And Adrian believes he's a hero, although he still wants external validation. I did the right thing, didn't I? It all worked out in the end.

In general, the movie plays down the ambiguities of the characters--except for the Comedian. One of the reasons it has to drag out the ending is that it hasn't done any of the background work to let us know what the New Frontiersman is, because it hasn't done any of the work of showing us that Rorschach isn't just a violent sociopath, he's a violent right-wing nutjob sociopath. It makes him simpler, and therefore more sympathetic.

The movie makes a triangle between Rorschach, Ozymandias, and Dr. Manhattan--all three of them brilliant and alienated--but I think it doesn't understand that the real tragedy of Adrian Veidt is that he's not as smart as he thinks he is. It believes his marketing, in other words, because it believes in superheroes.
I did think it established the right-wing nutjob thing very well, and actually, I preferred that it complicated Adrian--the book Adrian is too much a typical Moorian megalomaniacal control freak, whereas this guy is a True Believer, and somebody who accepts the moral complexity of his actions. I thought that was a complexification, rather than a simplification.

I agree that the movie prefers a world with superheroes, but I don't think it simplifies them. Rather, it's making a different point--that superheroes, even if they exist, even if they are in control of our destinies, are weak and flawed and human and frangible.

I don't think it's a simplification: I think it's a thematic update to the concerns of a world twenty years older.

I totally agree about Rorschach's ankle. *g* These guys are a lot more physically invulnerable than the comic book Watchmen, which is part of the shift in metaphor, I think.
His metaphor trumps everyone else's.

This has just made my day XD
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
I found it interesting that the only character to stick to his guns, never waver, was most the most loyal to his friends, unflinching in what he considered his duty, was Rorchack—who was obviously somewhat psychopathic.
Yeah, pretty much. It's a very interesting characterization.
I agree with you completely about the violence in the movie. I noticed it even as I watched it: fighting style was part of characterization, which I really appreciated.

I also agree with you about Carla Gugino's make-up. I had trouble paying attention to the character because I thought the make-up was a real problem.

Dan and Laurie's second, and more successful, attempt at sex got people in the theater laughing. It wasn't because the sex was funny--it was very well done. It was because of the swelling chords of Leonard Cohen's version of "Hallelujah." And that scene typifies my dislike of the use of music in the film. While certainly no one expected subtlety from Hollywood, the music, mostly great stuff, constantly felt like a sledgehammer to me, as if the director was saying, "This is how you should feel now!" or "This is how the characters feel now!"

On the whole, I really enjoyed the movie, and my issues are nits. But, you know, they're my nits so they seem bigger than they are. ::grin::
Yeah. The rest of the world needs to learn that just because Tarantino can get away with that trick, not everybody else can.
I wish they'd let Jon keep his killer exit line.

THIS. I really missed it. I loved the Mars sequences and the Philip Glass music (doubly great because it worked so well and because of Dr. Glass in the graphic novel).

Edit: also, needed more Bubastis. Though with the squid gone her reason for being there was less obvious. But I like her.

Edited at 2009-03-10 04:42 pm (UTC)
I wanna see the movie you did. I must have seen the other Watchmen. The one that sucked.
I wish they'd let Jon keep his killer exit line.

I was hoping to see that Jon/Adrian conversation as a post-credits sting - it would have perfectly undermined the superhero/action movie convention of tying everything up in a neat little bundle.
This is one of those moments that never happen - like the aliens in Cocoon waiting until the mothership has lifted into the clouds to rip off their faces and eat everyone - that you just have to add for yourself, and if you do it well enough, pretty soon you become confused that no one else seems to remember it.
The violence styles -- I'd picked up on that subconsciously, but you crystallized it so my conscious could get hold of it too. Thanks. (I guess that is sort of the point of writers, come to think of it. Interesting job you lot have, very difficult.)

(Also, reading through comments, here and everywhere else. Am I really the only one around who thinks the music was very fitting? Sadface.)
*g* It is our job, more or less. Unscrewing and hyperanalyzing things that the creator mean to work on a subconscious level....

You have some fellow music partisans, I think. *g*
Hey, I've never commented on here before, but enjoy all your musings.

I really thought the music worked well (apart from Mozart's Requiem which just got plonked in as lazy shorthand for how *devastating* and *big* this all was).
I LOVED the use of 99 Luftballons - part cold-war reference/ part geeky, 80's teen movie love scene. To me that was perfect.

What I didn't like was the Vietnam scenes which I thought went way over the top in terms of violence, I found them really troubling because the movie was actually asking you to laugh at them by parodying Apocalypse Now and framing them like a computer game. As someone mentioned earlier, the movie, I think partly merely by being a movie, celebrates its superheroes far more than the comic - and by upping the violence in those and a few other scenes actually condones it in a way the book doesn't.

Anyway, as a whole I found it fun - the first half was brilliant and the second half was pure crap.
Totally agree about the Nena.

I am really interested in your thoughts about the Vietnam scenes, and will be pondering them. Thank you!