Saturday, March 7, 2009

The night a Comedian died...

I saw The Watchmen tonight and wanted to get my thoughts down (and hopefully get some discussion going) before I lost them. Yeah this will have spoilers so act accordingly.

First things first.

1. This movie takes place in a fiction 1985 (the original comic was released in 1986-87) so don't waste too much time going over why the content really doesn't relate to today's current conditions (assuming you think they don't).

2. This movie is violent and has a lot of sexual content. People being dismembered. People exploding. Consensual sex. Attempted non consensual sex. Quite a bit of nudity (in fact more nudity that I remember from the books). Its rated R for a reason folks. This one is not for the kids.

3. This movie is LONG. At a whopping 2hr. 45min. you better be prepared to go the distance. Although I have to say that it did not feel that long to me (but of course I was really into it).

3a. This movie was made by editing a 12 part comic book mini series. I highly recommend you read it (you can get it in graphic novel format for about $20 at amazon) because there is a LOT of content that had to be left out to make it all fit into a single movie.

The movie starts with a man by the name of Edward Blake sitting in his apartment watching tv. An unknown assailant breaks in and kills Blake. The following day a masked man scales the side of the building to enter the scene and do some investigating. Finding a hidden button in Blake's closet the masked man opens a secret door. Behind this secret door is the beginning of a long journey that could end with the apocalypse...

Never really done a movie review before so I'm just gonna wing it by going over the things that caught my attention.

I have to say that Snyder and crew did a damn good job on editing the content of the original books. There is coherent story for people who don't know about The Watchmen while at the same time the people who know (or at least remember) will not feel lost trying to piece together and remember parts that were edited out. (One thing that was edited out was the murder of Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl.)

Violence: By cutting away a lot of the content it seems to me that some of the mood and feeling of the times was lost and in turn kinda made the extreme violence look out of place. I'm sure a lot of people who see the violence in this movie will think it was put in just for shock value but its not. It was in there as a sign of the dark, dank, and hopeless world that Rorschach describes throughout the movie. Yeah the Comedian was a sadistic killer but at the same time he was fighting for his country. Its real easy to call Dr. Manhattan a murder for what he did in Vietnam but were his actions really any different from the atom bombs that were dropped in Japan to end WW2? And then there is the practical joke "Kill save billions." The violence in this movie is not there for shock. It's there to give a look into the human condition.

Sex: There was quite a bit of sex in this movie and it seems to have several meanings.

Near the beginning of the film Rorschach was describing the current state of things and how they will turn bad in the end. In that description he lumps prostitutes in with wrong doers as if prostitution in and of itself is a bad thing. I didn't like this and wondered why he did that until I remembered that his mother was a prostitute that neglected him as a child which would explain why he holds them in such low regard. Not saying the generalization is okay just saying where it may come from.

During the story the Comedian attempts to rape the first Silk Spectre. As we all know rape is a horrible crime and this gives another look at the dark side of Blake. But later Silk Spectre I has a consensual sexual encounter with Blake (which resulted in the conception of their daughter who would become Silk Spectre II). This goes to show that sex can be the most beautiful thing in the world or it can be the ugliest thing in the world and how both visions can be carried by the same person.

To Laurie sex seemed to be symbolic of a connection. Early on we see her in a waning relationship with Dr. Manhattan. Manhattan is losing touch with not just his own humanity but with humankind altogether. All that keeps him attached is his relationship with Laurie. In the movie (but I think it played differently in the book) we see things come to a head by way of Laurie discovering that instead of having sex with Manhattan himself she was having sex with two of his clones while he himself continued his work. Once she leaves him and moves in with Nite Owl and eventually consummate their relationship with a sexual encounter after suiting up and patrolling the streets for old time's sake.

There is just so much going on in that story and so much to talk about I can't think of much less cover it all. Like I said at the top my hope is to get some conversation going about this work of fiction. Don't be scared to talk.