Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Nerd Reviews Watchmen, Though He Hasn't Seen It Yet

The TV show Saul of the Mole Men coined a great phrase: Arrogant Nerd Syndrome. It describes the tendency we geeks have to correct other people when they slightly misquote Monty Python sketches. It describes our ability to argue to the point of idiocy over which Doctor (Who,) starship captain, or Star Wars film is the best. And yes, it describes our pain when movie adaptations aren't true to the source material.

For about twenty years now, I've been waiting for a film adaptation of Watchmen. Friday, my dream comes true, and a generation-long nerdy longing will reach fruition. But what will the movie bring? As a proud nerd who has suffered from ANS for many years, I bring to you my review of the Watchmen, a film I haven't seen yet.

Let me start by pointing out the love/hate relationship we nerds have when our favorite works are adapted for the masses. We want to see the movie, but we don't want to share it with the rest of you. Lord of the Rings is a perfect example. In the same way ancient Christians used to draw pictures of fish, we geeks could once identify each other by growling, "My Precious!" in the back of our throats. Now, everybody gets it. It's the same with Watchmen. No longer are the nerd elite the only ones who can identify Rorschach, Doctor Manhattan, or Wally Weaver. Honestly, they should make people take a quiz at the door.

Next is the amount of faithfulness to the source material. It blows my mind that Zach Snyder has used the original graphic novel as a storyboard, that in each shot, every minute detail is perfect - right down to the different patterns on Rorschach's mask - BUT HE CHANGED THE ENDING. I feel nothing but burning hatred for studio plants lurking on the message boards whose job it is to defuse the ire of we "fan-boys" who wanted to see a muthafuckin' squid at the end of the story. Seriously - who reads a book and says, "Wow, this is one of the greatest books of all time. I really hope they change the ending."? I don't think so. I'm sure it was a political decision, and that the powers that be were frightened by the 9/11 connotations of the original ending, but I don't care. Zach Snyder, you owe me an admittedly vaginal-looking squid:

OK, on to Zach Snyder. I spotted at least three "Zach Snyder patented speed it up-slow it down-speed it up again" sequences in the trailer. So... how many are going to be in the movie? I didn't mind it so much in 300 because it was a bit of a style piece, but come on. Maybe he if he wasn't playing with the camera speed so much, we would have had room for a squid.

On to the characters. Most are spot on, with two exceptions: Rorschach sounds right, but there's one problem. He's not slimy enough. He looks (at least in the trailer) too clean and polished. He is supposed to have lived an obsessed, paranoid life these last ten years, hiding in a squalid studio apartment in the bad part of town. His clothes are supposed to be stained and torn. He's supposed to reek like rotten eggs. A minor complaint, as I think Jackie Earle Haley is the perfect choice for the character, I just didn't get a feeling of disgusting filthiness from his appearance in the preview.

Now the biggie: Ozymandias. I'm sorry, but Mathew Goode is horribly, horribly miscast. He looks like a kid. In the Graphic Novel, Veidt was at least in his late forties, if not his fifties. Mathew Goode wasn't even thirty when he filmed this. Also, he's far too slight of build, and his lack of physique makes the character's actions a little unbelievable.

Oh yeah- and President Nixon's nose is WAY too big. Seriously. It must be deliberate, because it's obvious. Why, I don't know.

But all in all, I'm still counting down the minutes until Friday morning. I'm praying it's more of a Lord of the Rings - which, despite changes to the plot and characters was still one of the greatest film epics of all time - than a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which dumbed all the intelligent, satirical, and phillisophical material in the book down for the American masses.

Let's end this with some of my favorite quotes that I really hope get into the film:

OK, that's enough for now- I'll let the rest be a surprise.



Ian T. said...

It should be interesting. Alan Moore has refused to be involved with any movie adaptations of his work since The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. While I can see the need for this particular adaptation to be faithful to the source material, film is a different idiom to graphic novelisation, so I'm not sure this approach will work.

Craig J. said...

I haven't read any reviews yet, but the ones I've seen in passing have been largely positive. I'm sure if I look harder I'll be able to find some negative ones, but so far the worst criticism I've seen is that it's too faithful to the novel.

And I've been fully on Moore's side since the League debacle. The way that book got mangled was truly shameful.

Aravis said...

"Maybe he if he wasn't playing with the camera speed so much, we would have had room for a squid."

I don't know why, but this cracks me up every time I think of it. *G*