24 October 2011

Who Watches The Watchmen?

Contains spoilers

So the other night I watched Watchmen for the second time. I saw it at the cinema when it was first out and wanted to buy it on DVD. Obviously though, being the geek that I am, I wanted the two-disc edition. Well in all honesty I wanted the directors cut but it seems as that's only available on Blu-Ray and I suffer from an allergy to buying shit machines that I don't need, I guess I'd have to make do.

However, for some unknown reason the two-disc edition of this film was stupidly expensive. The one disc is around £3 but for the two disc I would have to pay around £20. Now, unless those bonus features included a blow job and the promise not to spit, the chances are they weren't worth that much.

In this situation most people, I'm sure, would just go for the one disc, but not me. When it comes to movies I'm pretty high on the autism-ometer and so there is no way I could buy a film without extras, when I know there are extras out there. I mean can you imagine that? Just lying awake at night wondering about what you've missed out on? Never knowing the mysteries of the second disc. Things like that could drive you mad. It would be like being Madeleine McCann's parents never knowing where there daughter is, but worse. (I say worse because in reality, I'm sure they remember quite clearly where they buried her.*)

Shocked at just how much Watchmen was, I decided to wait. It wouldn't stay that expensive for ever and so I would bide my time. Fill my life with other things such as socialising, light drugs and masturbation until that single day when the price would fall to a reasonable cost. Months and years rolled by but I never gave up hope- until the other day when finally and almost by accident I found it. Play.com, £5, add to cart, my life is now complete. Well, almost complete... for some reason the special edition of Total Recall and Iron Man 2 are also £20 but at least I've got Watchmen. For now those other two will have to wait...

Eager to watch this film again, I popped it into the machine and sat back for the next two and a half hours. Since its release the film has been met with some degree of criticism, which, to a point, I can understand. Although I haven't read it, the graphic novel seems to be considered one of the best of all time. Now under no circumstances is this one of the best films of all time- therefore, fans of the greatest graphic novel will feel nothing but disappointment when they sit down to watch a pretty good film that has to compete with their stupidly high expectations.

As someone who watched without the burden of already being a fan, I feel that all-in-all, the film Watchmen is really rather good. When compared to other comic book movies it feels a lot more epic and clearly stands out as being particularly original in a genre that, in its shortish lifespan, has already developed quite a few cliches.

The comic book formula states that in the first instalment the hero gains their power and learns to deal with it. As the first film in these franchises are setting up all the rules and establishing the new world, the second is generally a lot better. The second film throws us right into the action and lets us have fun watching our hero accomplish their potential. The third film in a superhero trilogy is, generally, pretty shit. At this point they have either become bogged down by plot strands from the previous two films or they simply try to out do themselves by throwing in too many characters and explosions.

Watchmen however avoids this by simply being true to the book, and so a stand alone film. Zack Snyder's movie avoids the above trilogy cliché by not following the pattern of the superhero film and instead seeking inspiration elsewhere. Like The Dark Knight drew heavily from Heat, Watchmen follows a path that is much more in line with something like Magnolia. Both have phenomenal soundtracks and running lengths that require you to really not be that busy a person. Both are also huge ensemble dramas with a perfect cast and several character storylines that weave majestically in and out of each other.

When it comes to the characters in Watchmen, their unique selling point is that they deconstruct the more famous equivalents. In this film, Batman is a fat, likeable loser who can't get it up. Superman is a giant dicked, blue genius who has lost touch with humanity and so builds his fortress of solitude as far away as he can- on Mars. Nick Fury is an ageing, sociopathic rapist who dies within the first ten minutes, and then finally we get to Rorschach. Rorschach is basically an angry Travis Bickle or The Punisher without perspective. Rorschach has learnt in his time not to let people get away with anything. To him, the world is black and white. Rorschach, like everybody else in this film, basically has a few issues.

Like I said- I understand why people who have read "the greatest graphic novel of all time" would be a little disappointed but in all honesty just get the fuck over it. To say that Watchmen the film isn't very good is just fucking wrong. Compare it to something like Transformers 3 and then maybe you'll appreciate exactly what this film is bringing to the table. Compare it as well to other comic book adaptations such as The Fantastic Four or Elektra and be grateful that fucking Watchmen was made by someone wanting to create something original for cinemas. If Snyder wanted to make your average comic book film thats focus was to make a lot of money, it wouldn't be almost three hours long, 18 rated, feature a giant blue cock and very little action.

Where Snyder himself is concerned, I'm fairly indifferent towards him. I love the original Dawn of the Dead more than I love most of my family, but I also like his remake. The only similarity between Romeros and Snyders is that people are hiding in a shopping mall from a group of Zombies. Everything else is different. They are different people, doing different things against a different breed of zombie. In fact it's hardly even a remake- more just a film thats basic plot setup is along the same lines. I haven't seen Sucker Punch but I have seen 300 which is okay. I like the fighting in 300 but I think its politics are a little bit forced. It's as though they didn't want to admit to just making a film about men who hit each other with swords and so forced it in for the sake of it. I think the politics is as out of place here as a naked wrestler would be in Frost/Nixon. 300 with its slow-motion, gore and stylisation is basically just eye porn. Not that that's a bad thing.

It might however be the reason that Watchmen has been accused of being 'style over substance'. In my opinion, this is just simply not true. Don't get me wrong- the visuals are very impressive, but they had to be didn't they. When you've got a big blue man in a glass dome on Mars, well... that's always going to look nice. However the things that impress most are the characters, the acting, the story and the way it deconstructs its own genre. Basically, everything that I hear that is good about the book is in the film. So get over it nerds- this film could be a lot worse.

*The views expressed in this joke in no way represent my own... Unless they're right.

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