This past Friday the world got to experience not only the film Watchmen, but part of the Watchmen experience. I was just lucky enough to see the opening show at our theater. Even though my wife and I were going out of town, we cut our plans close to ensure we got to watch this masterpiece.
Though we were out of town Friday night, I was able to post my user review over on ComicBookMovie.com. Amazingly enough, my review got put on the front page, second headline! It stayed on the front page for about five days, and is still linked as top news on their sidebar links! This means a lot to me as Watchmen means a lot to me. If you would like to read the original review with comments and all, then just go HERE.
Otherwise, here is the revised review titled “Why Watchmen is a Failure.” Yes it is a confusing title, you will just need to read to find out what I mean. 🙂
I’m sure by now that everyone has read the flood of reviews for Watchmen. Or by now, you may have seen it two, or three times. However, there is still something I want to say about this film.
Watchmen is a failure as a movie.*
Just as Watchmen is a failure as a comic book.*
To called Watchmen a movie, is like calling this a review. It is a misnomer. It is really an experience.
If I were to compare Watchmen to a cinemagraphic work, Watchmen falls short. There are no “groundbreaking” shots. I would even go as far as to say much of the camera technique would be boring. But I have never had any movie make me feel the way Watchmen did. It is something different. Unfortunatly, there is no way I can truly make you understand what this film did to me. This best way I can put it, is this:
It is July 8th, 2008. My friend, my wife and I are watching the movie screen grow dark as the trailers begin before the Dark Knight. I sit in awe as I realize what I am seeing is the culmination of a lifetime of fandom. The Watchmen movie is coming, and I think to myself, “The world is not ready for this movie.” The excitment overwhelms me just the same and I look with shock at my wife. She smiles and hugs my arm. She is happy for me, but she does not understand.
It is March 5th, 2009. My wife just finished reading Watchmen for the first time. I probe her mind, her opinions, her philosophies. She half-heartedly smiles and says she liked the book, but it was overall dry for her, and she really doesn’t see the need in reading it again. I explain to her that it is OK, I can’t expect everyone to like it. After all many of the ideals expressed, while being around for centuries, can still be considered revolutionary. She does not understand.
It is March 6th, 2009. My wife and I walk out into the daylight. It is mid day. We just watched the first showing our theatre had of the movie that I so excitedly anticipated since that day in July. Our eyes blink the tears away, but these tears are not from the sudden dark theatre to day’s light. These are the tears of an experience. I look down at my wife’s beautiful face, red from crying. Her eyes irritated from emotion. She smiles. She understands.
For the last 16 hours, we have done nothing but discuss, talk, debate, and share everything we have taken away from the graphic novel and from the film. She wants to read it again, and here I am, after reading dozens of times in nearly the last ten years, and I don’t think I will ever be able to pick it up again. It may be to emotional for me now.
The sad thing is, is that the best we can catorgorize Watchmen as, is a film adaptation. But honestly, it fails as that. It is really, a completion of a journey. An adaptation is meant to bring one work, to a new medium. But what Zack Snyder (and his crew) has done is make the film medium PART OF the Watchmen experience. At this point, to try to compare the film to the graphic novel is like trying to compare two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Sure one piece may have a prettier color, or have a more appealing shape. But in the end, you need them both to complete the picture.
If the graphic novel was meant to make me think, then the film was meant to make me feel.
Alan Moore has said that he believes all the movie industry does is feed us worms. In the end, he will most likely say this film is just more worms. But they are the best tasting worms I have EVER had, and I cannot wait for a second helping.
If I had to absolutley compare the film to the graphic novel, I believe it would be blasphemous to what it really is. I will say, there is the same irony, the same little “wow” moments, the same cynisism. It is captured beautifully, some scenes may be better than the novel.
As a film, the music is amazing. The placment of the peices range from everything from ironic to romantic. And I know there has been much debate about the song at the credits, but I think it is an excellent statement. When Desolation Row was originally written, it was a poetic statement of the times. It was performed by an artist who could argueably be considered a figurehead that culture. The song was an expression of the irony and abstraction in the world, and here, at the end of this film, we have that same song expressing an alternate time, but the same society. However now it is being performed by a band that reflects our culture now. You do not have to be a fan of My Chemical Romance (lord knows I’m not), Bob Dylan, or Desolation Row, but placing that song at the end is a stamp, a signature. No, not everyone will understand Watchmen as we do, but it is ours, and as much as we would love to see the world take what we take from it, we can still be proud of what it means to us.
* NOTE: I would like to clarify something about what I had said. When I say Watchmen was a failure, I actually meant it. It wasn’t some sort of attention getting irony. My point is, if you take the 1985 concept of comics and tried to apply it to the graphic novel, then the novel is a failure. It doesn’t have an adhesive plot, it’s difficult to pinpoint the “hero” and any sense of a villain is skewed. But that is why we love it. To often failure is considered a bad thing. In this case, it was revolutionary. I think this film is the same. Essentially, we can say that a film adaptation of Watchmen is impossible, but what we got may have been even better, we got an amazing experience.
The whole time we waited for the adaptation for a graphic novel, what we may not have realized (or I didn’t at the time), was that over the years Watchmen has changed from the revolutionary graphic novel to an entire experience. The film added to that, and it was awesome!