(Please, excuse the cheesy title. I had to do it!)
I saw the Watchmen movie on Saturday. I’m not going to review it. I’m not going to give it stars. Frankly, I think it’s unreviewable. It doesn’t matter to me that the pretentious reviewer at the New Yorker panned the film. I am going to talk about the film and the New Yorker piece. But this is not a review. This is an analysis.
First, the movie. I sat there and watched this thing on Saturday and I marveled at the complexity and the sheer beauty of the thing. What surprised me most was how the film changed my recollections of the book. Watchmen is a comic I’ve probably read 5 or 6 times in my life. I would say that there are only two or three books/series that I have read an equal or greater number of times than Watchmen (and those would be James Robinson’s run on Starman, The Dark Knight Returns, and the first Sin City book). I watched the early scene with the police officers in The Comedian’s apartment, and I remember thinking, “wow, the dialogue matches the book very well.” However, when I went home and re-read that part of the book, they were vastly different. This, to me, is a sign of a good adaptation. Snyder used some dialogue verbatim, and some he re-worded, but it was done so well that you think you’re hearing that was written on the page.
I came to realize things about the characters that I had not realized before. The sheer fetishism of the whole superhero concept that permeates Watchmen is splayed before you on the screen. I would recommend that you read the book, then see the movie. If you still don’t get it, you have some issues with analysis and interpretation that you should deal with.
Now, The New Yorker. Did you follow the link? Good. I hope you read this review, and if you think the same way I think, you are probably disgusted. I’m going to hit these points one by one, because otherwise my rants will blend together.
- Stop calling it a graphic novel. I posted about this at the end of last week. Technically, it’s a trade paperback. More accurately, it’s a comic book. This is from the author’s own mouth: It’s a marketing term. I mean, it was one that I never had any sympathy with. The term “comic” does just as well for me. The term “graphic novel” was something that was thought up in the ’80s by marketing people … The problem is that “graphic novel” just came to mean “expensive comic book” and so what you’d get is people like DC Comics or Marvel comics – because “graphic novels” were ge tting some attention, they’d stick six issues of whatever worthless piece of crap they happened to be publishing lately under a glossy cover and call it The She-Hulk Graphic Novel, you know? It was that that I think tended to destroy any progress that comics might have made in the mid-’80s.
- The Dylan thing… Look, I love Bob Dylan. I probably have a more unhealthy fanboy attitude about Dylan than I do about comics. But people really need to stop acting like the guy sweats gold and shits Tiffany cufflinks. “was Dylan happy to lend his name to a project from which all tenderness has been excised, and which prefers to paint mankind as a bevy of brutes?” Give me a break! His songs are in the comic (two of them, “Desolation Row” and “Watchtower”). Are we really going to say that a guy who licenses his songs for use in Victoria’s Secret and Pepsi commercials isn’t allowed to license them for a film adaptation of a comic that he also licensed the use of his lyrics? He’s Dylan! He can do whatever he wants, and don’t use your crappy review of this movie as a way to take a swipe at Dylan.
- The reviewer’s name is Anthony Lane. After reading the review, I have come to the conclusion that lane either a), never read the book, or b), read it and didn’t get it at all. I know, that’s the thing to say when a reviewer disagrees with you, but Lane complains about things that are integral to the theme of the book and the movie. Watchmen works on multiple levels; entertainment, political, genre, deconstruction, etc. On one of those levels is a simple analysis of the superhero in which Moore determines that anyone who puts their underwear on outside of their pants an goes swinging around the night beating people up clearly has something wrong with them, from sociopathic tendencies to sexual fetishism to a complete disconnect from the real world. So yes, people do bad things in the movie, but they’re supposed to. Rorschach’s voiceovers are over the top, but they have to be. Otherwise there is no point. Changing that would be the equivalent of Charles Foster Kane having a happy childhood.
- I’m over 25, and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Don’t be so condescending.
So there you go. Take away whatever you want, but don’t shit-can a film just because you don’t understand the subplot. And stop calling them graphic novels!