Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones
cleolinda

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Watchmen

So I just got back from the movie (note: or at least I had when I started writing this), and I've got a massive Movie Headache, and I'm a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing, but on the whole, I really liked it. I think the thing you have to understand about Watchmen going in is that, despite what the trailers try to sell you, it's not an action movie. On the surface, it's a slow-burning murder mystery with some apocalypse thrown in, but the majority of it is character study: here's half a dozen "costumed adventurers," here's how they each got into masked vigilantism, and here's how they're coping with a world where they're not allowed to be who they really are--heroes--anymore (short answer: not well). And then, late in the movie, some action shows up, but that's not really what the movie's about at all. In the end, it's not even about the murder mystery--it's about something much, much bigger.

The movie itself is gorgeous--the sets in particular are fantastic, and I may be alone here, but I really like what they did with the hero costumes. (I particularly like Laurie's--even her gloves have garter straps, to the point where the costume's almost a parody of itself. Of course, it's also unironically titillating as well, so the movie's having its cheesecake and eating it too.) And the credit sequence montage is such a great way to brief newcomers on how--and why--the movie's world is different from ours, how costumed adventurers came to be, how the nation reacted to them, and what their role in history was. There were a number of bits in there that I don't remember from the book, so it gets inventive as well.

As far as the acting goes, I felt like Jackie Earle Haley was definitely the standout--but then, Rorschach is such an amazing character. That's one of the things I love about Watchmen (GIGANTIC DOOM SPOILER AHEAD): Rorschach is, depending on the scene, weird, off-putting, loathsome, terrifying, pitiful, and... something I almost want to call "noble." He is, it turns out, the hero of the story--the one who seeks justice, the one who refuses to compromise. And over here, you've got Ozymandias--perfect handsome invincible billionaire Ozymandias, obsessed with making the world better, willing to do anything to save humanity--no matter how terrible. He certainly functions as the villain, and even if you argue that the ends can justify the means, I don't know that he has the right to make that choice in the first place, even if he succeeds at his mission (or does he? Does it really work out in the long run?). So there's this wonderful interplay between what it means to be a hero or a villain within both characters, and what Ozymandias does is so horrifying that it sufficiently tarnishes his exterior perfection and, furthermore, his best intentions. Rorschach is harder to pin down, and harder to explain what exactly redeems him--I can't really explain why I ended up liking him so much in the book, but Jackie Earle Haley manages to bring all those same qualities to life. (And he looks perfect with the red hair.) He also gets the most badass line in the entire movie, IMO, and since this is just my opinion talking, I'll go ahead and tell you that it's "I'm not locked in here with you, YOU'RE LOCKED IN HERE WITH ME!"

(And you know why the most badass line is not "I did it thirty-five minutes ago"? BECAUSE THEY CHANGED IT. Not much, but "I triggered it," etc., just does not have the *EPIC SNAP* simplicity of "I did it." I can't believe they went out of their way to blow something like that, for real.)

I gotta say, though, I have no idea what was going on with Matthew Goode and his (intentionally?) prissy wandering accent. I know he can do an American accent because he was AMAZING in The Lookout, and I actually refused to believe he was British when we were discussing that movie in the car afterwards. So he is, in fact, capable of picking an accent and committing to it; I have no idea what he was doing with Ozymandias there. (ETA: Wait! Maybe this!)

Anyway. I'm sure there are a lot of other things I could say (major point: Ozymandias's new plan didn't bother me at all, because... I really don't know how they would have shown or explained the original one. A giant faux-alien squid developed by artists and writers and scientists from the brain of a dead psychic? Really? This movie's already two and a half hours, you think you've got time to sell an audience on that?), but I'm still a little overwhelmed. It's not a flawless movie, definitely not. And of course it's not as good as the book (which was a complex series of interweaving narratives and print media), but then, when they make a movie they don't burn all existing copies of the book so it's not like a movie irreparably robs you of anything. In my mind, I was judging the movie against what it could have been like--when it did feel right, it felt very, very right, and that's all I wanted. And I feel that's all you can ask for from a book adaptation, no matter how faithful it actually is.

So now I'm going to have a couple of Advil and a lie-down. Yes. If I have an opportunity, I will see it again, though.

P.S. My mother, who had no clue what it was about except that "the commercials look AWESOME," says she really liked it.


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Tags: movie discussion, movies, watchmen
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