Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek


On the weekend, I went and saw Watchmen, a film that I decided suffered from both paying too much attention to the comic and deviating too much.

If you haven't heard about the film, Watchmen, it's the latest film by Zack Snyder, who gave us the truly awful 300 and the surprisingly enjoyable remake of Dawn of the Dead. Watchmen, the film version of the graphic novel of the same title, concerns itself with six superheroes in a post superhero world, and the deconstruction of their origins and motivations. The film, to a degree, aims to be the same, and while I enjoyed the graphic novel a lot when I read it, I have to be honest and admit that I neither hated it nor loved it as a film. At times it felt silly, but mostly, I was bored for the longest while, pausing only to rouse myself when the poorest choices of music were given to play in the film's soundtrack. The best example of this was Hallelujah while Dan and Laurie had sex on a owl ship. I'm not sure who thought that a facial shot of Malin Akerman as she came and with Hallelujah screamed by Leonard Cohen out was a good idea, but clearly I wasn't at the meeting, and clearly no other voice of reason was either.

In many ways, I thought the fault of the film was in using David Gibbons' panels too directly to guide it. in the graphic novel, Gibbons' art works well--he is, honestly, an excellent artist--but there seems to be an issue when using a comic panels as the base for films, and that is that it results in still, passive images on the screen. A similar issue took place in Sin City, a truly awful film based off Frank Miller's comics, which are of various levels of success. However, whether you're a fan of the original texts or not, there is, I find, a craftsmanship that is linked to graphic storytelling by the artists (and writer, who in Watchmen's case is Alan Moore), and the panels and use of voice overs are designed to take advantage of the way that you read these texts. It might sound a bit shaky when I explain this, but I'll try my best: in sequential art, the idea is to create the illusion of movement between the panels. Each panel itself is static, but what the best of its illustrators do is arrange them so that movement and life is implied within the gaps, and then connected by the reader's imagination. It has more akin to it with the way that the internal images within a reader's brain works when he or she is reading a novel. At least, this is my take on how it works--maybe somewhere along the line some people will have different theories. Film, however, does not require this stimulation of the imagination to fill in the gaps. It's alive. It fills in the gaps itself. It has different requirements from the audience when they are watching it (the audience, for example, is not meant to pay attention to the music--it is suppose to aid the emotional context of a particular scene, but not draw attention to itself and break the scene, or so I argue). It seems to me, however, that when panels are lifted directly from a comic page and filmed, they emerge static and dull and Watchmen's great failing, I believe, is that for nearly all of its time on the screen, it is a static and dull film.

With bad music.

I can't express that last part enough, it seems.

My other fault with the film was actually the end, wherein the plot was restructured to take out the giant squid (aka, alien invasion). When I heard about this before going to the film, I was pretty cool with it. It's a big book, shit'll have to be chopped out, I told myself. However, the fix for it... it was just a little stupid and here, I'll admit, I couldn't stop thinking about the September 11th attacks, so maybe I was just pushed in the wrong direction by my head. But, as was seen by that attack, no amount of damage done to America would actually result in world peace, and I actually found it kind of laughable that such a concept could even be filmed these days. It seemed more accurate to me that, if the plan was believed, the Russians would laugh at the Americans, and then nuke the fuck out of them to teach them a lesson for having a god-like blue being that they used as a threat for all those years.

But, y'know, maybe I was just being too cynical at this point.

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