#1  
Old 03-06-2009, 06:51 PM
Zack Snyder's Watchmen

Watchmen (2009)

After about 20 years in the making, going through draft after draft, from studio to studio, the big-screen adaptation of Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel "Watchmen" finally comes to theaters. As far as the history of it goes, there was an early draft by Sam Hamm, then eventually David Hayter took a stab at it. Alex Tse was brought in to do some rewrites and ended up sharing credit with Hayter as screenwriter. What they ended up with was the blueprint for a film that would be almost 100% loyal to the original graphic novel.

The film is set in an alternate 1985 where Richard Nixon is on his fifth term as President. It follows the story of a group of ex-superheroes. One of them, the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is mysteriously murdered leading another one of them, Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), to begin an investigation into his death. He starts by warning the other members of the group, aptly named "The Watchmen," including Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), Laurie Jupiter / Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), and Dr. Manhattan / Jon Osterman (Billy Crudup). Meanwhile, the United States inches ever closer to nuclear war with Russia.

What shocked me the most about this film was how incredibly close the film adaptation came to the graphic novel. The look, the feel, the words, and the characters all come together in an epic story that is better than we could have ever imagined a "Watchmen" movie to be. I said almost 100% loyal before because there are two small details that are changed for the ending of the film that still end with the same result. These could have been changed not only to give the ending more clarity, but also to give more sense to one of the character's decisions at the end.

It does leave a couple of things out from the novel, but they weren't anything that the novel itself couldn't stand to lose. In the novel, there was a side story about Rorschach's doctor and his wife that was left out. Good move. The film also left out the whole "Black Freighter" adventure. Very good move. The freighter story paralleled the novel's story nicely in some ways, but mostly it became a large distraction from the main plot. Aside from these two things, I believe they managed to include everything else.

The actors that were assembled were perfect for their roles, especially Jackie Earle Haley. He brings a gritty, down-to earth feel to Rorschach that was ever present in the novel. The voice and the look combined together to give a perfect image of the character. Rorschach is the kind of character that doesn't care what he has to do to get results. He will threaten people, beat them up, and break their bones until he gets what he wants. Haley embodies that sentiment perfectly with his arrogant, unforgiving attitude.

Someone else who also really surprised me was Patrick Wilson, who I'd only previously seen in "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Little Children." His character of Nite Owl is someone who's conflicted between trying to live his life while also wanting to return to his old life of being a superhero. Needless to say, it doesn't take much to get him back in his old outfit again.

Some people were concerned that Billy Crudup might not be right for the role of Dr. Manhattan, and that his scenes might come off as being really silly. Incredibly, he brings a kind of wonderment to the character, though it is probably more a wonderment of him because he is so unusual in the way he acts. Crudup brings that perfect sense of indifference towards humanity in the vital scene between him and Laurie on Mars. He speaks with a slow, even tone, and always takes pauses between each sentence. After his accident, he becomes more of a casual observer of humanity rather than a member of it, because the man known as Jon Osterman never came back.

Finally, there is Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian, a character who is so cynical about the world, it's amazing that he was ever able to cooperate with anyone long enough to participate in the "Minutemen"(an older group of superheroes) or the "Watchmen." He is the kind of character who sees everything as one big joke. He even fires on protesters in the street while trying to defend them from themselves. When he discovers the biggest joke of all, even he cracks and breaks down. Morgan plays the part perfectly with the right amounts of both cynicism and indifference.

Returning to the look of the film, you can practically take any page of the novel and compare it to the film to see stunning similarities. Zack Snyder and his team of production designers took special care to get every little detail right, even the look of an aging Richard Nixon (whose nose looks bigger than ever). The rooms, the building, the costumes, even the actors themselves look like they were lifted right off of the page.

It's no surprise that the details are incredibly accurate. Look at Snyder's previous film "300," the adaptation of the popular Frank Miller graphic novel, and you will see just how closely the details of the film match it as well. Though we all realize that a lot of this film does not even actually exist, the backgrounds and effects that are used are realistic enough to feel as though they really do exist.

As for the story itself, it is spectacular in the way that it shows ordinary people being superheroes. These people have no special powers, aside from Dr. Manhattan, of course. Nite Owl uses a few gadgets that he put together, but when it comes to actual fighting, he is there using his fists like everyone else. When it comes to protecting the people, they have no need of super powers. These are ordinary people trying to stop the small evils that humanity has to offer. However, when the Keene Act is passed banning all forms of vigilantism, they are left without a choice and must hang up their uniforms, that is, until the time comes when their country needs them again.

If there were any problems with this movie, it would be that the pacing felt very strange at some points. This was probably because some of the scenes that should have been short were dragged on for longer than they needed to be. Take the opening scenes for instance where The Comedian is murdered. In the novel, this is a two-page scene told in quick flashbacks. In the film, this fight scene is dragged on for a couple of minutes. Later on, there are a couple of love scenes between two characters that also feel like they drag on a bit too long.

Anyone who was a fan of the graphic novel is sure to be pleased with this film. Even those who are experiencing this story for the first time will probably find something they like about it. There are several things to like about it from the story of ordinary people who do what they can to fight crime to the beautiful look of the universe that Snyder and his team were able to bring to life on the screen.

It is a mesmerizing experience and was well worth the wait. If this had been rushed into production back in the 80s when it was originally planned, we could have been left with an incredibly cheesy-looking version that looked like a bad comic book. But by waiting for so long, better technology became available and made it possible to make this novel into the movie it was meant to be. It is one not easily forgotten. 3.5/4 stars.

(I am giving the film a 3.5 here, but it is a rating that could easily change to a 4 in the future. This review is based solely on one viewing, and seeing as it was a lot to take in, I will need to see it again not only to see if it holds up well to another viewing, but also to see if it has the same effect again. My mind is still swimming with its beautiful images.)

Last edited by Hal2001; 03-28-2009 at 06:09 PM..
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  #2  
Old 03-07-2009, 12:34 PM
I'm a fan of the graphic novel and that is why I was not pleased. The film missed the mark entirely and I'm surprised that you've rated it so highly compared to several masterpieces you've been reviewing lately.
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  #3  
Old 03-09-2009, 08:54 PM
I'm finding it strange that some people who say they are a fan of the graphic novel are saying that they hate the movie when the movie is basically the novel on celluloid except for some minor changes to the ending. Everyone I know that's read the novel has agreed that it is an excellent adaptation. Mr. Mxyzptlk, what masterpieces are you speaking of?

Last edited by Hal2001; 03-09-2009 at 08:57 PM..
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  #4  
Old 03-09-2009, 09:03 PM
I'm generally referring to the classic films you review on a consistent basis, works by Bergman, Lang, Bresson, Forman, etc.

And most people I know who read the novel felt that the film glorified the violence and action for the sake of it, missing Moore's deconstructionist purpose in crafting his heroes, made a caricature out of one of the central characters (in the process eliminating an integral component of the story's ambiguity), lost the sense of eminent destruction that was so apparent in the book, and had abysmal music choice. Even though the film lifted many scenes verbatim, it missed out on a lot the tonal aspects and what was left out in many instances was integral. It lends credence to the idea that a film should never have been attempted, because no matter how long you make the film, it is impossible for the characters to have the resonance they had in the book.
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  #5  
Old 03-09-2009, 09:05 PM
The more I think about it, the more I like it. It's a pretty good adaptation, and the director's cut should be a monster.

Reading again about the history of this thing, how it bounced around between studios, screenwriters and directors, I think it's lucky that it turned out this good.

Last edited by Ayestrain; 03-09-2009 at 09:07 PM..
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  #6  
Old 03-09-2009, 09:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal2001 View Post
movie is basically the novel on celluloid except for some minor changes to the ending.
Uff, have you read the novel? The ending is not the only thing that's different, the only difference that actually worked for the film's favor. A lot of things were shortened (Rorschach's and Manhattan's backstory especially) and important characters were almost completely omitted (Hollis Mason, Bernie and Bernie). The extended DVD release will hopefully include those omissions but let's not kid ourselves into thinking that the only difference between the novel and the movie are the changes in the ending...

Glad you enjoyed the film so much though.
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  #7  
Old 03-09-2009, 09:32 PM
DaMovieMan: Yes, I agree lots of stuff was omitted (I only wrote of actual changes and didn't mean to make it sound like everything was included either), but let's not kid ourselves either that the entire novel could be presented on film and still come in at a decent running time, though I would have happily sat through a four hour (or longer) version in the theater. I too look forward to the extended DVD. Hopefully some of those things you mentioned will be included.

Mr. Mxyzptlk: It's true some of the violence was at times glorified (I keep thinking of that scene in the ally where Dan or Laurie snaps the guy's arm causing the bone to stick out...). Perhaps the filmmaker's felt that, with a film of this tone, they needed to add a little more umph to the very few actions scenes, possibly becuase they thought part of their key audience would be youngsters hoping for an action flick while another key part were all those people who loved the novel. This didn't bother me however because there are so few action scenes in the novel and the film. I mean, the last 2-3 chapters of the novel are mainly Ozymandias talking, yet it's still immensely captivating. Thinking back to the novel, remember the first several pages of the last chapter? In a way, that felt like Moore/Gibbons were glorifying it a bit. As for the music, some of it worked, some was odd ("Hallelujah" during the over-extended sex scene?), but I found the choices to be decent overall. I never really got an "imminent" feeling of destruction during the novel, except when we were kinda banged over the head with the constant reappearance of the "doomsday clock" at the end of each chapter. As for tone, I have to completely respectfully disagree, the tone was one of the main things that I felt the film got exactly right. Ok, I'm going to stop ranting now because you're probably going to want to point out everything you disagree with here, but I urge you to do so. I respect everyone's opinion on this board and encourage everyone to speak their mind.

Last edited by Hal2001; 03-09-2009 at 10:33 PM..
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  #8  
Old 03-17-2009, 04:19 PM
I will echo what Kevin Smith said on a recent podcast; NO ONE could have gotten as close to the source as Snyder did.
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  #9  
Old 03-17-2009, 05:49 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaMovieMan View Post
Uff, have you read the novel? The ending is not the only thing that's different, the only difference that actually worked for the film's favor. A lot of things were shortened (Rorschach's and Manhattan's backstory especially) and important characters were almost completely omitted (Hollis Mason, Bernie and Bernie). The extended DVD release will hopefully include those omissions but let's not kid ourselves into thinking that the only difference between the novel and the movie are the changes in the ending...

Glad you enjoyed the film so much though.
I don't consider condensing scenes so they fit a reasonable running time to be a major change, personally. All the important elements are still there, just a few sentences and a few interactions are taken out so the movie stays at a reasonable length to begin with.

The ending is the only thing that really completely changes an important element and it just so happens to work better for the movie world.


And Jesus Christ. I'm not sure how a movie that chooses to actually show the graphic, disgusting and disturbing side of violence can be labeled with the completely unfounded label of "glorifying violence."

The movie doesn't glorify violence. If it did, it would be like the Dark Knight and have so much violent things going on but never show the results of the aforementioned violence. This movie actually SHOWS it.

Last edited by LordSimen; 03-17-2009 at 05:51 PM..
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  #10  
Old 03-17-2009, 06:09 PM
I already made an extended post showing how I felt the movie glorified the violence, but it was mainly centered on the fight scenes. I didn't think it showed the brutality; it zoomed in on ridiculously crisply rendered blood splatters to look pleasing. A film that shows brutal violence is Taxi Driver; the blood looks sickening and realistic by not being rendered with such high color concentration and the speed with which it occurred added to the sickening nature of it. If there was a slo-mo shot of the guy's hand being blown off it would have rendered any sense of brutality invalid. Watchmen was clearly interested in making the violence pretty and over-the-top; it was hard to me to cringe at anything because it looked like a glorified cartoon that hardly resembled reality.
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  #11  
Old 03-17-2009, 06:17 PM
I'll never understand that point of view. You see a glorified cartoon, I see people getting their limbs broken, face's smashed, arms sawed off, blown up/disintigrated and so on and so forth without ever shying away from actually showing the brutality of each act and only going in slow motion for specific reasons each time.

None of that sounds like a cartoon to me. That sounds like a movie showing the results of violence and not glorifying it.
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  #12  
Old 03-17-2009, 06:34 PM
It's the way it's directed. Having people with the ability to break limbs almost effortlessly trivializes the violence. In the book the alleyway scene simply shows they can still fight. In the film it shows Dan and Laurie as absolute monsters. In having them, without breaking a sweat, twist necks and make people's bones jut out, it turns the characters into cartoonish exaggerations of themselves and makes the film damn near hard to believe. Having Rorschach bite off a kid's face like he was pulling off plastic wrap? Just because there's a lot of blood doesn't make it brutal. It feels like a teenager's interpretation of violence, making it so effortless and exaggerated that, despite excess of gore, it feels like a cartoon. Additionally, note the way that the blood looks; it is so crisp in its coloration, so pure and pretty-looking in its slow motion presentation. There is no way that Snyder is trying to make it revolting. Additionally, I fail to see where you're coming from by saying it shows the results of violence. It rarely does. When you see the prisoner's arms sawed off what does it tell you about violence? I see no biting social commentary on violence in society, nor do I see the effect it has on the characters. All it tells me is that it hurts a lot, which is far from profound. Every instance of violence in the book meant something. The only truly gory moments were a way of showing Rorschach's development into an isolated and detached human being. It was not presented for the sake of aesthetic pleasure. The over-the-top gore in New York showed the absolute carnage and horror of what Ozymandias had unleashed in his so-called moral quest. I simply don't think that showing a lot of blood means much; it's all in the way it's directed. In a film like Taxi Driver, there is no lingering on it nor is there any polish in the special effects. It feels like the real thing. In Watchmen it doesn't.
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  #13  
Old 03-17-2009, 07:21 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Mxyzptlk View Post
It's the way it's directed. Having people with the ability to break limbs almost effortlessly trivializes the violence. In the book the alleyway scene simply shows they can still fight. In the film it shows Dan and Laurie as absolute monsters. In having them, without breaking a sweat, twist necks and make people's bones jut out, it turns the characters into cartoonish exaggerations of themselves and makes the film damn near hard to believe. Having Rorschach bite off a kid's face like he was pulling off plastic wrap? Just because there's a lot of blood doesn't make it brutal. It feels like a teenager's interpretation of violence, making it so effortless and exaggerated that, despite excess of gore, it feels like a cartoon. Additionally, note the way that the blood looks; it is so crisp in its coloration, so pure and pretty-looking in its slow motion presentation. There is no way that Snyder is trying to make it revolting. Additionally, I fail to see where you're coming from by saying it shows the results of violence. It rarely does. When you see the prisoner's arms sawed off what does it tell you about violence? I see no biting social commentary on violence in society, nor do I see the effect it has on the characters. All it tells me is that it hurts a lot, which is far from profound. Every instance of violence in the book meant something. The only truly gory moments were a way of showing Rorschach's development into an isolated and detached human being. It was not presented for the sake of aesthetic pleasure. The over-the-top gore in New York showed the absolute carnage and horror of what Ozymandias had unleashed in his so-called moral quest. I simply don't think that showing a lot of blood means much; it's all in the way it's directed. In a film like Taxi Driver, there is no lingering on it nor is there any polish in the special effects. It feels like the real thing. In Watchmen it doesn't.

You punch a guy in the face, you see the blood and broken bone from result. You shoot a guy, you see the blood splat as a result. You destroy a person's body, you see the bloody remains of their body.

Every action in this movie has an equal and opposite reaction showing the results of violence. It's not glorified in any way, shape, or form in my personal opinion.

Showing the blood IS the way it's directed. He chose to show the blood rather than do what Christopher Nolan did with the Dark Knight and completely pussy out on his own commentary of violence by having no blood or reprecussions what so ever to the violent acts he has characters depict. Watchmen HAS those results.

I fail to see where you're coming from on how somehow putting something in slow motion glorifies it. How? Because you see it happen slower? If you ask me, that shows how brutal the act is far more than seeing it happening too fast for you to see it. That's not glorification at all.

A cartoon doesn't show the results of it's violence. Bambi's mother dies, you never see the result. Bugs bunny explodes, you never see his innards. Cartoons play violence as nothing to shake a stick at, this movie shows it as grotesque and violent just as much as Taxi Driver does.

It doesn't feel like the real thing in the movie because it's a freakin' comic book movie. The graphic novel has a fuckin' character with powers to manipulate matter and another character fast enough to catch a bullet. It's stylized from page one and the movie simply continues the very same stylization as the comic book.

Last edited by LordSimen; 03-17-2009 at 07:25 PM..
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  #14  
Old 03-17-2009, 07:45 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
You punch a guy in the face, you see the blood and broken bone from result. You shoot a guy, you see the blood splat as a result. You destroy a person's body, you see the bloody remains of their body.
Fine, then I can name about a million other movies that achieve the same effect. I hardly see how that's a feather in Watchmen's cap.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
Every action in this movie has an equal and opposite reaction showing the results of violence. It's not glorified in any way, shape, or form in my personal opinion.
I think otherwise, as I've already explained. Extreme stylization renders the blood aesthetically pleasing and diminishes brutality.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
Showing the blood IS the way it's directed. He chose to show the blood rather than do what Christopher Nolan did with the Dark Knight and completely pussy out on his own commentary of violence by having no blood or reprecussions what so ever to the violent acts he has characters depict. Watchmen HAS those results.
The way it's directed refers to the way the blood is shot, the way it's presented, not the simple fact that it is shown. The fact that it's directed crisply with polished complexion leans in favor of the opinion that he was trying to make the gore pleasing to the eye.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
I fail to see where you're coming from on how somehow putting something in slow motion glorifies it. How? Because you see it happen slower? If you ask me, that shows how brutal the act is far more than seeing it happening too fast for you to see it. That's not glorification at all.
I don't think slow motion adds any brutality. Lingering on something doesn't always heighten its impact. Several films have achieved a higher of degree of brutality by focusing instead on the suddenness and the shock of violent acts. When the action is slowed to a still, in almost every film, it is meant to evoke some degree of artistic beauty, or at least that's my experience. The compositions chosen to be represented in still-shot look pretty and pristine, while the reactions that would bring out the horror of such violence committed is gone, which is why the slow motion ultimately lessens the brutality in my opinion.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
A cartoon doesn't show the results of it's violence. Bambi's mother dies, you never see the result. Bugs bunny explodes, you never see his innards. Cartoons play violence as nothing to shake a stick at, this movie shows it as grotesque and violent just as much as Taxi Driver does.
Your definition of cartoon is narrow. First of all, even animated cartoons show the results of violence if you dig deep enough into the medium. Second of all, by cartoonish I am not at all restricting my description to animated cartoons, but rather the state of something being exaggerated and unrealistic, which is exactly how the violence in the movie comes across. The effortlessness and exaggeration of the violence in the film feels less real and more cartoonish. Taxi Driver feels much realer and certainly had me squirming in my seat far more.
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Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
It doesn't feel like the real thing in the movie because it's a freakin' comic book movie. The graphic novel has a fuckin' character with powers to manipulate matter and another character fast enough to catch a bullet. It's stylized from page one and the movie simply continues the very same stylization as the comic book.
The funny thing is the blood feels more real in the book. Never is there extreme excess, never is it presented with such rich attention to artistic detail so as to make it look pretty. The comic book is stylized for the very reason that it is illustrated. It is impossible to avoid stylization; but regardless its style is one of slightly simplified realism, so the film should at least try to achieve that. Additionally, there is total realism when it comes to the fight scenes. Never do you see the characters break bones and twist necks. The action and violence is more sudden, distant and objective, and I could cite several specific panels. There is little doubt to me that the film is the exact opposite when it come to each of those three things. It is slow and deliberate, closed in, and takes a very narrowed and focused viewpoint that makes it stand out from the rest of the action taking place.
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  #15  
Old 03-17-2009, 08:00 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Mxyzptlk View Post
Fine, then I can name about a million other movies that achieve the same effect. I hardly see how that's a feather in Watchmen's cap.
I'm not saying it's a feather in it's cap, I'm saying it's not a detriment to the movie.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Mxyzptlk View Post
I think otherwise, as I've already explained. Extreme stylization renders the blood aesthetically pleasing and diminishes brutality.
The comic book draws the panels extremely stylized and renders the blood aesthetically pleasing. There's not a planel in the comic book that screams. "Wow, this looks terrible." It all looks wonderful. That's the nature of a comic book, every panel must look aesthetically pleasing. The movie is a direct adaptation of said comic book with very little major changes and most being simply condensations of larger elements in order to make it fit within a running time. It's only natural it would be just as stylized as it's source material.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Mxyzptlk View Post
The way it's directed refers to the way the blood is shot, the way it's presented, not the simple fact that it is shown. The fact that it's directed crisply with polished complexion leans in favor of the opinion that he was trying to make the gore pleasing to the eye.
The simple fact that it's shown is a direct coorelation to the movie's theme, which is not that of glorification. In fact, the movie goes out of it's way to present the actions these superheros take as just as violent and meaningless as that of the criminals they stop.

Do you remember how the graphic novel and movie ends? With the villain ultimately proving that the vigilante's actions are pointless and they have accomplished nothing but continuing the cycle of pain and violence and his plan will ultimately cause one large violent event that would unify the world under one banner and put a stop to the violence as it stands?

It's directed the way it is, in slow motion, to show the brutality of it closer and make the effects of each punch and each kick more apparent to the audience watching it. The blood and gore itself simply pushes the theme of the piece and completely sets up the ending. That's what Snyder directed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Mxyzptlk View Post

I don't think slow motion adds any brutality. Lingering on something doesn't always heighten its impact. Several films have achieved a higher of degree of brutality by focusing instead on the suddenness and the shock of violent acts. When the action is slowed to a still, in almost every film, it is meant to evoke some degree of artistic beauty, or at least that's my experience. The compositions chosen to be represented in still-shot look pretty and pristine, while the reactions that would bring out the horror of such violence committed is gone, which is why the slow motion ultimately lessens the brutality in my opinion.
What's more brutal? What's more graphic? Seeing a guy punch one guy, which we've seen a thousand times in hundreds of different situations, in normal speed... Or a guy's fist slamming into another guy's face in slow motion showing the result of the impact and ultimately the damage caused in the moment of the violent act...

It speaks for itself. Both are graphic but one enhances the brutality much more than the other.

The compositions are chosen to make everything on screen look good, much like the compositions of the graphic novel were.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Mxyzptlk View Post
The funny thing is the blood feels more real in the book. Never is there extreme excess, never is it presented with such rich attention to artistic detail so as to make it look pretty. The comic book is stylized for the very reason that it is illustrated. It is impossible to avoid stylization; but regardless its style is one of slightly simplified realism, so the film should at least try to achieve that. Additionally, there is total realism when it comes to the fight scenes. Never do you see the characters break bones and twist necks. The action and violence is more sudden, distant and objective, and I could cite several specific panels. There is little doubt to me that the film is the exact opposite when it come to each of those three things. It is slow and deliberate, closed in, and takes a very narrowed and focused viewpoint that makes it stand out from the rest of the action taking place.

The blood's drawn. It's no different than the stylized CGI blood used in the movie- It doesn't feel more real or less real, it just is.

The fight scenes are usually one panel in the graphic novel. The breaking into the prison is one static panel, for example. Are you suggesting the movie should have taken this route, and just had one static shot, none-moving shot with all the action taking place right in front of them?

Even Oldboy had a moving camera.
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  #16  
Old 03-17-2009, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
I'm not saying it's a feather in it's cap, I'm saying it's not a detriment to the movie.
OK, that's not what I've been getting from your posts.
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Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
The comic book draws the panels extremely stylized and renders the blood aesthetically pleasing. There's not a planel in the comic book that screams. "Wow, this looks terrible." It all looks wonderful. That's the nature of a comic book, every panel must look aesthetically pleasing. The movie is a direct adaptation of said comic book with very little major changes and most being simply condensations of larger elements in order to make it fit within a running time. It's only natural it would be just as stylized as it's source material.
Now we're getting into the depths. The artwork in the book is aesthetically pleasing, and every object and prop and character is drawn in the same style. The blood is drawn extremely simple. The compositions are beautiful, but the artwork of the blood is hardly the detailed splatter-fest it is in the film. The film juxtaposed realistic actors and real props with blood that lacked any sense of realness; it was pretty-looking, plain and simple. In the book, the blood was no differently rendered than any other aspect of the book, so if you accepted the overall style as its own fictional reality, then the gore and violence was no different, because it conformed to that style. The blood and violence in the film are ureal, fake, exaggerated, etc. which is counter to the realistic tone and general visual style of the film. When Mars is reconstructed in CG it at least gives off the feel that it really is Mars we're looking at. The gore and over-the-top violence was the opposite and took me out of the film every time.
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Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
The simple fact that it's shown is a direct coorelation to the movie's theme, which is not that of glorification. In fact, the movie goes out of it's way to present the actions these superheros take as just as violent and meaningless as that of the criminals they stop.
Which is why I see a large tonal inconsistency. The book saw the violent acts as atrocities. In the film, Laurie's and Dan's scenes in which they shatter bones in needlessly violent ways is supposed to be a triumphant bonding moment. It in no way marks the violence as meaningless. In the book, their skirmish was of self-defense; in the film it is excessive and grotesque. I see no argument presented that such horrible violence was worthy of any condemnation. It was meant to be cool-looking and nothing else, adding absolutely nothing to the story. I think that instance of violence was meant to be glorified. This over-the-top trivialization of brutality conflicts with the realistic tone and heavy moral issues raised.
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Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
Do you remember how the graphic novel and movie ends? With the villain ultimately proving that the vigilante's actions are pointless and they have accomplished nothing but continuing the cycle of pain and violence and his plan will ultimately cause one large violent event that would unify the world under one banner and put a stop to the violence as it stands?
Yes, but I am referring to the visualization of such acts of violence, not the intended message of the film.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
It's directed the way it is, in slow motion, to show the brutality of it closer and make the effects of each punch and each kick more apparent to the audience watching it. The blood and gore itself simply pushes the theme of the piece and completely sets up the ending. That's what Snyder directed.
But when the blood and violence is exaggerated and cartoonish, the slow achieves the opposite effect. When the camera is zoomed in on an unrealistic blood spurt that looks like it came from a video game, the brutality is nonexistent, and the lingering of the camera feels more like an attempt to show how cool the blood looks. To achieve the effect of brutality it must be realistic and convincing; by zooming in on blood that was deliberately intended to look like the product of computer graphics, I felt more than anything the falseness of what I was seeing and did not buy what was going on.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
What's more brutal? What's more graphic? Seeing a guy punch one guy, which we've seen a thousand times in hundreds of different situations, in normal speed... Or a guy's fist slamming into another guy's face in slow motion showing the result of the impact and ultimately the damage caused in the moment of the violent act...

It speaks for itself. Both are graphic but one enhances the brutality much more than the other.
Normally I would agree, but the thing for me is the way the blood and violence was presented. In being presented as unrealistically pretty-looking and pristine, the slow motion achieved the opposite effect. The slow motion could have looked fine otherwise. But again, there is also a net loss in brutality I feel. Part of the conveyance of brutality is to depict the suddenness, shock, and reaction and I feel that slow-motion compromises these things for a more graphical approach.
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Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
The compositions are chosen to make everything on screen look good, much like the compositions of the graphic novel were.
The compositions were chosen to look artistic. There is a difference between art and beauty. Take the scene in Raging Bull in which the camera zooms across the ropes of the ring to show a segment drenched in blood. The composition is artistic, but what it is depicting is vile and horrific regardless. I felt that in Watchmen, the violence being depicted was not violent or horrific because it was presented so indulgently and with such exaggeration and attention to making it look pretty.
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Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
The blood's drawn. It's no different than the stylized CGI blood used in the movie- It doesn't feel more real or less real, it just is.
My main issue is that the CGI blood doesn't fit with real actors. No matter how altered the actors and props and sets are by the filters and cinematography, they are still real, and the CGI should at least try to look real. The CGI blood looked exactly like CGI blood and did not mirror the real thing at all. Mars was a CGI construct, but it conformed to the realism just fine.
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Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
The fight scenes are usually one panel in the graphic novel. The breaking into the prison is one static panel, for example. Are you suggesting the movie should have taken this route, and just had one static shot, none-moving shot with all the action taking place right in front of them?

Even Oldboy had a moving camera.
By limiting the action to a single shot, Moore was clearly showing that it wasn't of much importance. If he felt that the prison-break fight scenes were important to the plot, he would have allotted more panels. I understand your point though, that certain panels are meant to be done in a shot, but others have too much going on to warrant a single shot. So no, I am not upset that multiple shots were allotted to the prison-break scene, it's the fact that more emphasis was put on them then was necessary. That one shot of the prison-break is more concerned with the dialogue; the action is off to the side. The action scene in the film is gratuitous. Additionally, Moore still had the ability to center his panels on the blood and the gore, but they are always small details and off to the side. Note the difference between the secretary being shot by Veidt's attempted assassin. In the book, it is a minor detail of a large panel, but its suddenness still conveys the horror. In the film, it receives an indulgent long slow-motion zoom-in. Snyder is clearly putting emphasis on violence for the sake of violence.
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  #17  
Old 03-17-2009, 08:36 PM
A good argument for Watchmen's glorification of violence is that nearly every grotesque and disturbing happening made me and my friends go "Cool!" It was presented to us that way. Snyder has even been quoted as referring to his fighting scenes as "bad ass", which is very telling of how he approached them. The violence is generally meant to be entertaining, and I'm surprised that discerning movie fans wouldn't pick up on that. Now... I know by putting bad ass in quotations I'm coming off stuffy and high-minded, but I love Michael Bay, and I love bad ass violence. But if Watchmen is a commentary on violence it's a poor one.

I don't see why that's a criticism. If you're setting up your story around your audience enjoying people who beat the fuck out of other people for a living/pastime/hobby, then you have to make at least some of that violence entertaining. Otherwise the crowd is repulsed over and over again. It's not the desired effect. We aren't going to root for batman if we see the grisly and disturbing aftermath of his carnage, nor are we going to enjoy the charismatic bad guy Joker if his own killings make us turn away in absolute disgust. Nobody is trying for that tone. I think it's a big misunderstanding to think Snyder wanted his violence to repulse us (with the obvious exception of the rape scene).
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  #18  
Old 03-17-2009, 08:47 PM
^That's what I'm trying to say. You're first paragraph anyway. The general consensus in the theater was not 'that's brutal or disgusting!', rather it was 'that looks really cool!'. Going into longwinded semantic discussions I think is sort of missing the point. I don't think that just by zooming in on violence means that the zoom was meant as a way to make the audience taken aback by the violence; rather it was a way to make it look appealing. A composition can be appealing, but when actions that are supposed to be horrifying come across that way, it loses the point.

Now you're right that in a popcorn action film, that is the desired effect. And that's what's so sad. Watchmen is being seen as a cool action film. In the book, I would be very surprised if anyone found the burning alive scene 'cool' or the secretary getting shot 'awesome looking'. They are more objectively depicted, and I feel that makes a lot of the difference. The violence in the book is supposed to be horrifying, because it is a gritty commentary on superhero comic book conventions. Slowing the action down and zooming in may make it more graphic, but does it make you squirm with disgust any more? No, I think it achieves the opposite effect. But seeing as how the film was going for the same message as the book, that is the visual tone it should have been trying to achieve.
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  #19  
Old 03-17-2009, 08:52 PM
I disagree completely with everything you've said Shinigami, and we should just leave it at that. I can tell this is going to go on for ages but I hardly feel just because it's cool it means it's glorified nor do I think that just because it's cool it's not grotesque and disgusting, which it is and which is exactly the way it's presented.

Watchmen glorified no violence. It commented directly at how pointless and disturbing violence can be. Only one action scene did and that's the Prison Riot scene where the point of it was to show two characters gaining their groove back.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone actually read the graphic novel. People confuse me.
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  #20  
Old 03-17-2009, 08:54 PM
Well, I'll just close by saying I think it's hard to deny that being 'cool' generally comes closer to glorification than repulsion. I was not disturbed and my friends were not disturbed. We were disturbed, however, when we read the book. That's why I think the presentation of violence in the film was a failure.
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  #21  
Old 03-17-2009, 08:56 PM
I deny that. I find violence cool in general. Ultra violence especially. That doesn't mean every single ultra violent movie I've seen and found cool automatically isn't repulsive or disgusting.
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  #22  
Old 03-17-2009, 09:20 PM
SPOILERS FOR WATCHMEN

You sound like you know what we're talking about, Lordsimen. We just reacted to the movie in different ways. I see what you're saying about how Watchmen showed the consequences of these actions, which is not something PG-13 superhero movies usually do. But for me Zack Snyder's style is much too beautiful and artistic to ever be grimy and gross like. No matter how much 'consequence' he films. Sin City, for example, showed the consequences of gunshots and punches and junk in brutal detail, yet nobody ever thought that it was anything but cool, slick, glorified stuff. Likewise, Snyder's style couldn't produce "ugly" violence. It's just not his thing. Mr. Mxyzptlk already went into that.

But I don't want to drag this out for anybody.
You two already covered all the bases before I came in. The only point I can make is that Synder has described some of his action as bad ass, and that's not a word Alan Moore would use for anything he wrote in Watchmen. I think part of the graphic novel's point was that super heroes wouldn't be badass. They would be silly, they would be boyish, they would be nazis, they would be ugly, they would be deconstructed from their popcorn entertainment background and made into gritty realities. Some of that stuff could not be tonally replicated by Snyder's artsy style no matter how much he tried. And he did try. Honest effort.

Mr. Mxyzptlk, do you at least think Snyder respected the source material? He might have overlooked some little details, he might not have- but he was clearly a fan trying to do best by other fans. That's why I'm so positive about the movie even if I didn't love it.

btw I wrote the SPOILERS headline when I intended to include something about watchmen's ending. But I didn't. So nevermind
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  #23  
Old 03-17-2009, 09:25 PM
Wow, this has been a fascinating debate. Though I'm going to have to agree with LordSimen that just because something is "cool", that doesn't mean it can't be disturbing. "Cool" doesn't really lean towards glorification or repulsion because when something is "cool," it's just "cool," as in it's its own term. As for not being disturbed by the movie's violence, it's probably just because you're desensitized, but that's ok, lots of us are. The funny thing about that is that there is nothing really disturbing in the novel except for those first few pages of the final chapter showing the aftermath, basically the end result of where all this senseless violence has gotten everyone. This senseless violence is what Snyder's plays up in the few actions scenes that are in the movie and I felt that helped accentuate the theme a lot.

As for the slo-mo and the blood, well, that's just a matter of opinion as to how it was done. I thought it was done well, which made it disturbing. So yeah, sometimes the violence was for violence's sake, but not just for violence's sake. It really helped the senselessness of the violence, showing that the "heroes" are no better than anyone else (I think LordSimen said that somewhere too) and in the end, as both novel and movie show in slightly different fashion, violence only bred more violence.
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  #24  
Old 03-17-2009, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Shinigami View Post
Mr. Mxyzptlk, do you at least think Snyder respected the source material? He might have overlooked some little details, he might not have- but he was clearly a fan trying to do best by other fans. That's why I'm so positive about the movie even if I didn't love it.
I felt that he was at least enthusiastic about the film and put a lot of effort into it. Sadly, I found that Snyder's personal style conflicted with Watchmen's tone. There is just too much of a difference between Gibbons' sense of imagery and Snyder's directorial style and Moore's sense of depth and Snyder's adaptation of it.
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  #25  
Old 03-18-2009, 04:28 PM
While the violence in the film didnt bother me, I do wonder why Snyder chose to up the blood factor like he did. The alley fight is the best example. In the book Dan and Laurie lay the smack down on the thugs. Dan breaks a guys nose I believe. But in the film they snap necks, snap arms into right angles, and pretty much slaughter the fuck out them. I just ask why make it more violent for the hell of it?
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  #26  
Old 03-18-2009, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by poopontheshoes7 View Post
I just ask why make it more violent for the hell of it?
Because the heroes are really no better than the villains. They fight crime, yes, but really all their actions accomplish is a continuance of the cycle of violence that plagues the world. The violence was upped to further show this. Night Owl and the like have good intentions, but are their actions really doing anything worth while?
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  #27  
Old 03-18-2009, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
Because the heroes are really no better than the villains. They fight crime, yes, but really all their actions accomplish is a continuance of the cycle of violence that plagues the world. The violence was upped to further show this. Night Owl and the like have good intentions, but are their actions really doing anything worth while?
I know I'm only joining this debate now but having read some of the previous posts...but one scene that I think would've helped accentuate this cycle of violence would've (Highlight to reveal)been Hollis Mason's murder by the Knot-Tops. Considering that act was caused by Dan and Laurie busting Rorschch out of prison, it helps bring much of this cycle of violence to full circle. Thankfully, this scene was filmed and will be in the Director's Cut.
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  #28  
Old 03-18-2009, 09:42 PM
I thought it was a solid flick. I was never bored watching watchmen.


The excessive blood did feel a bit forced. Hardly anything to get upset about. I also thought the nudity was unnecessary, but penis was glad it was in there. My opinion is that they could have done without much of the blood and if the tits had been left out it still would have been just as good a movie.

I did read the graphic novel.

Watchmen 8/10
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  #29  
Old 03-19-2009, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
Because the heroes are really no better than the villains. They fight crime, yes, but really all their actions accomplish is a continuance of the cycle of violence that plagues the world. The violence was upped to further show this. Night Owl and the like have good intentions, but are their actions really doing anything worth while?
I really dont think Snyder went that far. He made it more violent for the hell of it. Thats about it. The upped violence doesnt take away from the story for me, but I hardly think Snyder made it even more violent for a purpose.
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  #30  
Old 03-19-2009, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by poopontheshoes7 View Post
I really dont think Snyder went that far. He made it more violent for the hell of it. Thats about it. The upped violence doesnt take away from the story for me, but I hardly think Snyder made it even more violent for a purpose.
I believe he did. People don't give Snyder enough credit. The guy is smarter than everyone thinks he is.
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  #31  
Old 03-19-2009, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by LordSimen View Post
I believe he did. People don't give Snyder enough credit. The guy is smarter than everyone thinks he is.

I think he's very smart. He did what other, more acclaimed directors couldnt. And he was more faithful then those said directors would have been. Not once did I say "this doesnt feel like the GN." He nailed it, but I do believe he went with the "this will look SOOO cool: route with the amped up violence.
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  #32  
Old 03-27-2009, 11:17 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by poopontheshoes7 View Post
I think he's very smart. He did what other, more acclaimed directors couldnt. And he was more faithful then those said directors would have been. Not once did I say "this doesnt feel like the GN." He nailed it, but I do believe he went with the "this will look SOOO cool: route with the amped up violence.
You could make that argument, but I think he had a point to the violence; after all, the destruction of the city (in the comic with a squid, in this with Dr. Manhattan's power) was drastically less violent in the film if you recall. If he wanted to up the cool factor an entire city slaughtered probably would have maxed it out for gorehounds, but I think he added it in where he saw fit.
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  #33  
Old 03-27-2009, 11:50 AM
Quote:
If he wanted to up the cool factor an entire city slaughtered probably would have maxed it out for gorehounds, but I think he added it in where he saw fit.
Wasn't that because of 9/11? Studio sensitivity?

I'm just a broken record here... But: another bit of evidence for Snyder's random bloody stuff comes from the dream sequence where Dan and Laurie peel off a layer of themselves to reveal the superheroes underneath. In the GN they peel a layer off like it was cloth or snakeskin or something. Dreamlike, right? Yet in the movie they actually look to be peeling their flesh off because its underside is bloody and goopy.
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  #34  
Old 03-27-2009, 12:32 PM
I know that I am way late on this but I personally think that Snyder extended the fight scene's to pace the film better because Watchmen has some very heavy dialog and I feel that the added brutality of the fight scenes gave movie goers that extra "oomph" needed to make it through the rest of the film,especially those movie goers who had not read the source matrial....I personally don't think that by uping the violence factor Zack Snyder did anything that even remotely harmed the tone or feel of the graphic novel
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  #35  
Old 04-02-2009, 02:50 PM
http://tocatchaflasher.com/
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