The inevitable Watchmen movie post.


I finished re-reading Watchmen this morning, making this maybe the 5th or 6th time I've read it. It still holds up, obviously, but what amazes me is that every time through, I pick up on something new. Sometimes it's major, sometimes it's more subtle, but there's always some new piece of information I find that I had somehow missed in the past. The more I learn to read - and read into - comics, the more there is to absorb. It's easy to see why something so brilliantly layered has been appreciated (if I may understate) for so long.

Sadly, it's inevitable that those layers won't translate to the movie adaptation, the rich psychological, intellectual, and emotional complexities will be lessened (or gone), and we'll be left with a largely surface-only reading of the material.

That doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to seeing it, though. I'm pretty excited, actually. And not because I'm one of those people rooting for it to fail. I'm hoping to be legitimately entertained here. We may only be getting the surface here, and the experience cannot help but be less rewarding than reading the book, but that surface story is pretty gripping, so if Zack Snyder and company can at least do a good job bringing that to the screen, I'll at least be left with something that will hold my interest. I'm damning with faint praise here, I know, but I tend to prefer my optimism with a side order of caution. Comes from growing up in a Red Sox household, I'm sure.

I'm kind of expecting this experience to be similar to watching the film adaptation of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead soon after reading it. The movie, as one would expect, jettisons numerous characters and plotlines in order to slim itself down to a manageable running time (for instance, the first 300 pages or so are summed up in the first 5 minutes), and the end result is certainly less philosophically challenging (your opinions of Rand will help you figure out whether that's a good thing or not... I enjoyed the book to a point, but I sure didn't miss the trainwreck-subtle hammering of the book's Big Idea), but still interesting viewing.

(And it didn't hurt that the Howard Roark of the movie comes across as slightly less-rapisty than his literary counterpart.)

Maybe the naysayers will be right, maybe the Watchmen film will fail miserably in every way. But I hope that isn't the case. While the original certainly makes such use of its medium as to be rightly seen as one of the pinnacles of that medium, I think the material is strong enough that it could be adapted successfully in film. And while I would have preferred to see what Terry Gilliam would have done with this, I'm willing to give Snyder a shot.

2 comments:

Jeremy said...

I noticed while checking out the DVDs coming out this week that there's a "motion comic" version of "Watchmen". Have you seen that? The idea of someone performing a comic book on TV for my benefit intrigues me and my laziness, especially upon learning that one guy does all the voices, both male and female.

Bill D. said...

I've heard of it, and admit I'm curious to check it out, but perceived quality has very little to do with that curiosity.