Watchmen: “They’re shaping me into something gaudy…”

“How do you know when you’re a superhero and not just a fetish person with a death wish?”

– Grant Morrison, Seven Soldiers #0

The intro set to Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are-a-Changin’ is worth the price of admission. They had me hooked at that point, just like they had me hooked in Hobbiton in Fellowship of the Ring, only faster. That intro was fantastic.

The rest was good too. The change of ending made it, to my mind, a stronger story. I like the movie ending better.

That said, there were some missteps. The violence in the scenes with Laurie and Dan being jumped while in plain-clothes in the alley was amazing and then, once they put on the costumes it went to lame wire-fu. I wish all of the violence in the film was choreographed like the fight in the alley, brutal and short. In the prison-break and in the last fight scene, things got too super-heroish for me.

The sex scene between Dan and Laurie was comical and a bummer. Though, to be honest, I was glad that she kept her boots on. Boots aside, still a bummer.

There are little quibbles but nothing that won’t be better (and worse?) with the cut scenes added back in to the Geek Edition DVD. I wish they hadn’t cut so much with Ozymandius out. I had no idea how he was and Bubastis was never explained at all; the cat just kind of showed up with no framing what-so-ever.

Hollis’ death scene, the lack of the Black Freighter, etc. didn’t bug me much but it will be neat to sit down for a long evening and watch it with some geeky brothers and sisters.

The casting felt right; the actors all hit their marks. Dr. Manhattan, Roscharch, Dan, Laurie, Silk Spectre, the Comedian all felt dead on correct to me.

Two further things occur to me:

1) I liked Roscharch’s brutality to the kidnapper better in the comic.

2) Someone needs to write some kind of cultural theory essay about Iron Man, Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen all in the context of a post-9/11 world.

I liked it.

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148 thoughts on “Watchmen: “They’re shaping me into something gaudy…”

  1. I was quite happy that Dan had a bit of a gut.

    The sex scene was I think meant to be funny.

    I found the music often good, sometimes subtle, but sometimes very much intrusive. The intrusiveness was occasionally annoying.

    • Missteps

      I didn’t find it funny; I found it wince-inducing. The music felt particularly ham-handed in that scene.

      The All Along the Watchtower on the way to Ozy’s place felt like the other musical misstep to me.

      • Re: Missteps

        It took a bit of thought afterwards, but the sex scene on Archie was the punchline of a comment on the sexual fetishization of superheroes. When it was Dan and Laurie, Dan couldn’t get it up. After a bit of costume action he’s all man. The cheesiness is intentional, I believe, as part of the comment, but I may be wrong.

        I only got it in the larger context of the deconstruction of superheroes that Watchmen is all about, though.

        • Re: Missteps

          I totally get what they were trying to do. I think they effed it up. It isn’t that I didn’t understand it; I just didn’t like it is all.

          I’m not saying anyone is a bad person for liking it; I just didn’t care for it.

          • Re: Missteps

            Sorry…it didn’t come across in your post.

            And I wouldn’t call it spot on, either. I didn’t think it was a complete miss, but it wasn’t necessary by any stretch.

          • Re: Missteps

            Sorry…it didn’t come across in your post.

            And I wouldn’t call it spot on, either. I didn’t think it was a complete miss, but it wasn’t necessary by any stretch.

        • Re: Missteps

          I totally get what they were trying to do. I think they effed it up. It isn’t that I didn’t understand it; I just didn’t like it is all.

          I’m not saying anyone is a bad person for liking it; I just didn’t care for it.

      • Re: Missteps

        It took a bit of thought afterwards, but the sex scene on Archie was the punchline of a comment on the sexual fetishization of superheroes. When it was Dan and Laurie, Dan couldn’t get it up. After a bit of costume action he’s all man. The cheesiness is intentional, I believe, as part of the comment, but I may be wrong.

        I only got it in the larger context of the deconstruction of superheroes that Watchmen is all about, though.

      • Re: Missteps

        Also, it was originally to the tune of “You’re My Thrill” performed by Billie Holiday, rather than “Hallelujah.” I’m not sure Holiday would have saved that scene, though. I’m not sure anything could.

      • Re: Missteps

        Also, it was originally to the tune of “You’re My Thrill” performed by Billie Holiday, rather than “Hallelujah.” I’m not sure Holiday would have saved that scene, though. I’m not sure anything could.

    • Missteps

      I didn’t find it funny; I found it wince-inducing. The music felt particularly ham-handed in that scene.

      The All Along the Watchtower on the way to Ozy’s place felt like the other musical misstep to me.

  2. I was quite happy that Dan had a bit of a gut.

    The sex scene was I think meant to be funny.

    I found the music often good, sometimes subtle, but sometimes very much intrusive. The intrusiveness was occasionally annoying.

  3. I was quite happy that Dan had a bit of a gut.

    The sex scene was I think meant to be funny.

    I found the music often good, sometimes subtle, but sometimes very much intrusive. The intrusiveness was occasionally annoying.

  4. I was quite happy that Dan had a bit of a gut.

    The sex scene was I think meant to be funny.

    I found the music often good, sometimes subtle, but sometimes very much intrusive. The intrusiveness was occasionally annoying.

  5. Missteps

    I didn’t find it funny; I found it wince-inducing. The music felt particularly ham-handed in that scene.

    The All Along the Watchtower on the way to Ozy’s place felt like the other musical misstep to me.

  6. Missteps

    I didn’t find it funny; I found it wince-inducing. The music felt particularly ham-handed in that scene.

    The All Along the Watchtower on the way to Ozy’s place felt like the other musical misstep to me.

  7. Overall, yep, I liked it. As much as I enjoyed the boob shots during the Tumble in the Clouds (and the boots, yeah) it was a bit gratuitous, but I guess no more than some of the violence, which I felt could have been handled off-screen at times. Looking forward to an even longer version on DVD.

  8. Overall, yep, I liked it. As much as I enjoyed the boob shots during the Tumble in the Clouds (and the boots, yeah) it was a bit gratuitous, but I guess no more than some of the violence, which I felt could have been handled off-screen at times. Looking forward to an even longer version on DVD.

  9. Overall, yep, I liked it. As much as I enjoyed the boob shots during the Tumble in the Clouds (and the boots, yeah) it was a bit gratuitous, but I guess no more than some of the violence, which I felt could have been handled off-screen at times. Looking forward to an even longer version on DVD.

  10. Overall, yep, I liked it. As much as I enjoyed the boob shots during the Tumble in the Clouds (and the boots, yeah) it was a bit gratuitous, but I guess no more than some of the violence, which I felt could have been handled off-screen at times. Looking forward to an even longer version on DVD.

  11. Re: Missteps

    It took a bit of thought afterwards, but the sex scene on Archie was the punchline of a comment on the sexual fetishization of superheroes. When it was Dan and Laurie, Dan couldn’t get it up. After a bit of costume action he’s all man. The cheesiness is intentional, I believe, as part of the comment, but I may be wrong.

    I only got it in the larger context of the deconstruction of superheroes that Watchmen is all about, though.

  12. Re: Missteps

    It took a bit of thought afterwards, but the sex scene on Archie was the punchline of a comment on the sexual fetishization of superheroes. When it was Dan and Laurie, Dan couldn’t get it up. After a bit of costume action he’s all man. The cheesiness is intentional, I believe, as part of the comment, but I may be wrong.

    I only got it in the larger context of the deconstruction of superheroes that Watchmen is all about, though.

  13. Re: Missteps

    I totally get what they were trying to do. I think they effed it up. It isn’t that I didn’t understand it; I just didn’t like it is all.

    I’m not saying anyone is a bad person for liking it; I just didn’t care for it.

  14. Re: Missteps

    I totally get what they were trying to do. I think they effed it up. It isn’t that I didn’t understand it; I just didn’t like it is all.

    I’m not saying anyone is a bad person for liking it; I just didn’t care for it.

  15. I liked it, too.

    Rorschach needed to be really good for the movie to work, and he was. Really, really good.

    As a movie, I think it’s too long and tips its hand too much with the reveal. As a filmed version of Watchmen, it was pretty darn perfect.

    • It’s that dichotomy that gets me: its merits as a film and its accuracy as a filmed version of the comic. One of the best descriptions I’ve read was “slavish reproduction,” with all that implies.

        • Re: Snyder

          What’s the line between “slavish” and “respectful”? I thought he hit most of the right thematic notes, and did it in a movie-specific way. I mean, pull the movie apart scene-for-scene and it doesn’t particularly follow the GN frame-for-frame. It’s a very challenging story to pull from its own medium, and somehow he and/or his screenwriters pulled it off. Could a “shitty director” accomplish that?

          Also, the opening totally rocked. And he directed that too.

          I mean, he’s not the next Scorsese or Spielberg or whatever, but I’ll take a Zach Snyder movie over, say, a Michael Bay movie any day. Imagine the clusterfuck this movie would have been had it been directed by Uwe Boll or something.

        • Re: Snyder

          What’s the line between “slavish” and “respectful”? I thought he hit most of the right thematic notes, and did it in a movie-specific way. I mean, pull the movie apart scene-for-scene and it doesn’t particularly follow the GN frame-for-frame. It’s a very challenging story to pull from its own medium, and somehow he and/or his screenwriters pulled it off. Could a “shitty director” accomplish that?

          Also, the opening totally rocked. And he directed that too.

          I mean, he’s not the next Scorsese or Spielberg or whatever, but I’ll take a Zach Snyder movie over, say, a Michael Bay movie any day. Imagine the clusterfuck this movie would have been had it been directed by Uwe Boll or something.

    • It’s that dichotomy that gets me: its merits as a film and its accuracy as a filmed version of the comic. One of the best descriptions I’ve read was “slavish reproduction,” with all that implies.

  16. I liked it, too.

    Rorschach needed to be really good for the movie to work, and he was. Really, really good.

    As a movie, I think it’s too long and tips its hand too much with the reveal. As a filmed version of Watchmen, it was pretty darn perfect.

  17. I liked it, too.

    Rorschach needed to be really good for the movie to work, and he was. Really, really good.

    As a movie, I think it’s too long and tips its hand too much with the reveal. As a filmed version of Watchmen, it was pretty darn perfect.

  18. I liked it, too.

    Rorschach needed to be really good for the movie to work, and he was. Really, really good.

    As a movie, I think it’s too long and tips its hand too much with the reveal. As a filmed version of Watchmen, it was pretty darn perfect.

  19. Re: Missteps

    Sorry…it didn’t come across in your post.

    And I wouldn’t call it spot on, either. I didn’t think it was a complete miss, but it wasn’t necessary by any stretch.

  20. Re: Missteps

    Sorry…it didn’t come across in your post.

    And I wouldn’t call it spot on, either. I didn’t think it was a complete miss, but it wasn’t necessary by any stretch.

  21. I consider anyone who prefers the movie-Veidt’s plot to novel-Veidt’s plot to be plain crazy. (Honestly, I think the whole story loses a lot by ditching the fact that Dr. Manhattan solved the energy crisis.) I also think the alley fight, and the gore level in general, was way, WAY over the top. Malin Akerman and Patrick WIlson also cannot act to save their lives. You also basically see that Veidt is behind everything within a few seconds into Blake’s murder scene. Extending that into a big fight was a bad call, IMO.

    That said, the film was a noble attempt. Rorshach and Dr. Manhattan were spot-on.

  22. I consider anyone who prefers the movie-Veidt’s plot to novel-Veidt’s plot to be plain crazy. (Honestly, I think the whole story loses a lot by ditching the fact that Dr. Manhattan solved the energy crisis.) I also think the alley fight, and the gore level in general, was way, WAY over the top. Malin Akerman and Patrick WIlson also cannot act to save their lives. You also basically see that Veidt is behind everything within a few seconds into Blake’s murder scene. Extending that into a big fight was a bad call, IMO.

    That said, the film was a noble attempt. Rorshach and Dr. Manhattan were spot-on.

  23. I consider anyone who prefers the movie-Veidt’s plot to novel-Veidt’s plot to be plain crazy. (Honestly, I think the whole story loses a lot by ditching the fact that Dr. Manhattan solved the energy crisis.) I also think the alley fight, and the gore level in general, was way, WAY over the top. Malin Akerman and Patrick WIlson also cannot act to save their lives. You also basically see that Veidt is behind everything within a few seconds into Blake’s murder scene. Extending that into a big fight was a bad call, IMO.

    That said, the film was a noble attempt. Rorshach and Dr. Manhattan were spot-on.

  24. I consider anyone who prefers the movie-Veidt’s plot to novel-Veidt’s plot to be plain crazy. (Honestly, I think the whole story loses a lot by ditching the fact that Dr. Manhattan solved the energy crisis.) I also think the alley fight, and the gore level in general, was way, WAY over the top. Malin Akerman and Patrick WIlson also cannot act to save their lives. You also basically see that Veidt is behind everything within a few seconds into Blake’s murder scene. Extending that into a big fight was a bad call, IMO.

    That said, the film was a noble attempt. Rorshach and Dr. Manhattan were spot-on.

  25. Has everyone who commented read the comic? I have, but I saw the movie with 3 people who hadn’t, they all liked it, but missed some important points that the comic makes. One of them was totally lost as to what was going on, and wasn’t sure if she was supposed to like any of the characters. I liked the movie, but I think I could appreciate on a different level because I read the comic.

    • Stand on its own.

      The person I really wanted to see this movie with was my dad, as he hasn’t read the comic yet.

      Yeah, I am not sure if the comic stood on its own; I just can’t judge that.

    • Stand on its own.

      The person I really wanted to see this movie with was my dad, as he hasn’t read the comic yet.

      Yeah, I am not sure if the comic stood on its own; I just can’t judge that.

  26. Has everyone who commented read the comic? I have, but I saw the movie with 3 people who hadn’t, they all liked it, but missed some important points that the comic makes. One of them was totally lost as to what was going on, and wasn’t sure if she was supposed to like any of the characters. I liked the movie, but I think I could appreciate on a different level because I read the comic.

  27. Has everyone who commented read the comic? I have, but I saw the movie with 3 people who hadn’t, they all liked it, but missed some important points that the comic makes. One of them was totally lost as to what was going on, and wasn’t sure if she was supposed to like any of the characters. I liked the movie, but I think I could appreciate on a different level because I read the comic.

  28. Has everyone who commented read the comic? I have, but I saw the movie with 3 people who hadn’t, they all liked it, but missed some important points that the comic makes. One of them was totally lost as to what was going on, and wasn’t sure if she was supposed to like any of the characters. I liked the movie, but I think I could appreciate on a different level because I read the comic.

  29. Stand on its own.

    The person I really wanted to see this movie with was my dad, as he hasn’t read the comic yet.

    Yeah, I am not sure if the comic stood on its own; I just can’t judge that.

  30. Stand on its own.

    The person I really wanted to see this movie with was my dad, as he hasn’t read the comic yet.

    Yeah, I am not sure if the comic stood on its own; I just can’t judge that.

  31. I liked Roscharch’s brutality to the kidnapper better in the comic.

    I agree completely. The movie portrayal of the kidnapper is cynical and almost mustache-twirling evil. In the comic, I read the inflection of the same words as the guy being genuinely emotionally devastated that his dogs were dead, but not by what he had done to the girl. To me, that makes him a far more believable–and more horrifying–figure. Someone just as broken as Rorshach in many ways.

    By and large, I liked the film and thought it was well done. But, yeah, Adrian gets the short end of the stick. He’s *never* portrayed in a sympathetic light, which kinda ruins the ambiguity.

    • I agree that the kidnapper and the way Rorschach kills him is better in the comic, but, man, his tangible rage as he looks at the kidnapper, and looks at the cleaver, and fights with himself over whether or not to kill — that was awesome, and far above the comic.

    • I agree that the kidnapper and the way Rorschach kills him is better in the comic, but, man, his tangible rage as he looks at the kidnapper, and looks at the cleaver, and fights with himself over whether or not to kill — that was awesome, and far above the comic.

  32. I liked Roscharch’s brutality to the kidnapper better in the comic.

    I agree completely. The movie portrayal of the kidnapper is cynical and almost mustache-twirling evil. In the comic, I read the inflection of the same words as the guy being genuinely emotionally devastated that his dogs were dead, but not by what he had done to the girl. To me, that makes him a far more believable–and more horrifying–figure. Someone just as broken as Rorshach in many ways.

    By and large, I liked the film and thought it was well done. But, yeah, Adrian gets the short end of the stick. He’s *never* portrayed in a sympathetic light, which kinda ruins the ambiguity.

  33. I liked Roscharch’s brutality to the kidnapper better in the comic.

    I agree completely. The movie portrayal of the kidnapper is cynical and almost mustache-twirling evil. In the comic, I read the inflection of the same words as the guy being genuinely emotionally devastated that his dogs were dead, but not by what he had done to the girl. To me, that makes him a far more believable–and more horrifying–figure. Someone just as broken as Rorshach in many ways.

    By and large, I liked the film and thought it was well done. But, yeah, Adrian gets the short end of the stick. He’s *never* portrayed in a sympathetic light, which kinda ruins the ambiguity.

  34. I liked Roscharch’s brutality to the kidnapper better in the comic.

    I agree completely. The movie portrayal of the kidnapper is cynical and almost mustache-twirling evil. In the comic, I read the inflection of the same words as the guy being genuinely emotionally devastated that his dogs were dead, but not by what he had done to the girl. To me, that makes him a far more believable–and more horrifying–figure. Someone just as broken as Rorshach in many ways.

    By and large, I liked the film and thought it was well done. But, yeah, Adrian gets the short end of the stick. He’s *never* portrayed in a sympathetic light, which kinda ruins the ambiguity.

  35. I agree that the kidnapper and the way Rorschach kills him is better in the comic, but, man, his tangible rage as he looks at the kidnapper, and looks at the cleaver, and fights with himself over whether or not to kill — that was awesome, and far above the comic.

  36. I agree that the kidnapper and the way Rorschach kills him is better in the comic, but, man, his tangible rage as he looks at the kidnapper, and looks at the cleaver, and fights with himself over whether or not to kill — that was awesome, and far above the comic.

  37. I liked it. So, nobody get me wrong, based on what I’m about to say.

    Two things missing that are SUPER important in the comic: Rorschach’s confrontation with his landlady, and Rorshach pulling Dan off the topknot in the bar.

    These are important because, in the comic, there is only one protagonist, and it’s Rorschach, but not until those happen. Those moments show us his turn from psychopath to hero.

    Compare him to Dan and Laurie, who fight crime because they get a kick out of it; Veidt, who is a megalomaniac; Jon, who is so deluded as to be ineffective; the Comedian, who was effective and wasn’t deluded, but was a right bastard, eventually reduced to a whimpering wreck, and then dead.

    Rorschach fights crime because he MUST. His only quirk is that he values justice over human life. Which becomes important in the climax, in which everyone must choose between justice and human life. When it came down to it, Dan and Laurie were moral jellyfish (they were in it for kicks, not for justice; also, their fear of nuclear annihilation is well-documented throughout). Jon and Veidt were deluded. Rorschach was the only one with any backbone, and God Jon killed him for it.

    Here’s another thing:
    In the end of the comic, Dan gives up after being repulsed by Veidt the first time. Rorschach keeps getting up, over and over. In the movie, Dan fights just as much, if not more, than Rorschach, and kinda holds his own for a while.

    This is because, in the movie, Dan is just as much of a protagonist as Rorschach. Compare his reaction to Rorschach’s death in the comic, to the reaction in the movie.

    The movie is friendlier. It has a far less brutal thematic landscape. But none of this makes it a bad story; it just makes it a different story.

    Another thing:
    In the comic, I wanna snap Veidt’s smarmy neck when he gives that “I’ve made myself feel every death” bullshit (if anyone felt every death, it was Rorschach, and you see what that got him). In the movie, not so much. I can almost believe him.

    • So I’ve actually seen the movie twice now — once with a fellow fan of the book, another who hadn’t seen it at all.

      The first time through I really didn’t like the movie. It felt slow. I checked my watch a lot. LOVED the opening montage; great way to recontextualize the Under the Hood materials. But once they started interweaving all the individual character stories, it felt messy and overcomplicated and a little pointless. I liked it better when each story was framed, more or less, within an issue of the series. The entirety of my conversation afterward was about how the movie was different than the book, and that kind of wore me out.

      The second time, I liked the movie much, much more. I could see that they hit the thematic marks pretty much every time; I appreciated the casting more. The guy they got for Comedian — I really hope his career takes off after this.

      Things I liked:

      * The soundtrack, except when it was hamhanded (i.e. the owlship sex scene). Music is unique to the medium, and it was great to see them use it to tell more story, rather than just fill in the quiet spots. The places I liked the soundtrack the least were when they didn’t match up with the time period. I wanted to hear 70s songs in the 70s riot scenes, 80s New Wave in the modern bits, and so on.

      * The casting. Totally impressed, even with the guy they got for Ozy. I would have preferred someone who looked more physically capable, like a big beefy Aaron Eckhart type, but I have to admit I liked the skinny dude. Carla Gugino pulled off the cougar gag very well. I found Jon’s placid monotone incredibly grating, but Billy Crudup is waaay too good an actor for this to have been a mistake. I think it was effective, esp. the second time through.

      * Dan and Laurie’s costume fetish. Even the sex scene, despite the Nick Cave. Actually all the sex in general was fine. The Laurie + Jon threesome was just about perfect.

      * The masterplan and ending worked well. Much tighter than the book, without needing to introduce the whole complicated “colony of artists and scientists” subplot (and pirate tie-in).

      What I didn’t like:

      * The wire-fu fighting, both in the prison and in Karnak. The alleyway scene made them seem like competent, brutal street fighters — the same vibe they’re going for in Dark Knight. Once the wire-fu started I was very sad.

      * The soundtrack, when they got it wrong. Least favorite: The techno bits whenever the Owlship showed up. Out of period, jarring, yuck.

      * Rorschach narrating from his own journal. I liked it better when I was reading his written words. Not possible in a movie, but necessary for the punchline. :-/

      p.

    • So I’ve actually seen the movie twice now — once with a fellow fan of the book, another who hadn’t seen it at all.

      The first time through I really didn’t like the movie. It felt slow. I checked my watch a lot. LOVED the opening montage; great way to recontextualize the Under the Hood materials. But once they started interweaving all the individual character stories, it felt messy and overcomplicated and a little pointless. I liked it better when each story was framed, more or less, within an issue of the series. The entirety of my conversation afterward was about how the movie was different than the book, and that kind of wore me out.

      The second time, I liked the movie much, much more. I could see that they hit the thematic marks pretty much every time; I appreciated the casting more. The guy they got for Comedian — I really hope his career takes off after this.

      Things I liked:

      * The soundtrack, except when it was hamhanded (i.e. the owlship sex scene). Music is unique to the medium, and it was great to see them use it to tell more story, rather than just fill in the quiet spots. The places I liked the soundtrack the least were when they didn’t match up with the time period. I wanted to hear 70s songs in the 70s riot scenes, 80s New Wave in the modern bits, and so on.

      * The casting. Totally impressed, even with the guy they got for Ozy. I would have preferred someone who looked more physically capable, like a big beefy Aaron Eckhart type, but I have to admit I liked the skinny dude. Carla Gugino pulled off the cougar gag very well. I found Jon’s placid monotone incredibly grating, but Billy Crudup is waaay too good an actor for this to have been a mistake. I think it was effective, esp. the second time through.

      * Dan and Laurie’s costume fetish. Even the sex scene, despite the Nick Cave. Actually all the sex in general was fine. The Laurie + Jon threesome was just about perfect.

      * The masterplan and ending worked well. Much tighter than the book, without needing to introduce the whole complicated “colony of artists and scientists” subplot (and pirate tie-in).

      What I didn’t like:

      * The wire-fu fighting, both in the prison and in Karnak. The alleyway scene made them seem like competent, brutal street fighters — the same vibe they’re going for in Dark Knight. Once the wire-fu started I was very sad.

      * The soundtrack, when they got it wrong. Least favorite: The techno bits whenever the Owlship showed up. Out of period, jarring, yuck.

      * Rorschach narrating from his own journal. I liked it better when I was reading his written words. Not possible in a movie, but necessary for the punchline. :-/

      p.

  38. I liked it. So, nobody get me wrong, based on what I’m about to say.

    Two things missing that are SUPER important in the comic: Rorschach’s confrontation with his landlady, and Rorshach pulling Dan off the topknot in the bar.

    These are important because, in the comic, there is only one protagonist, and it’s Rorschach, but not until those happen. Those moments show us his turn from psychopath to hero.

    Compare him to Dan and Laurie, who fight crime because they get a kick out of it; Veidt, who is a megalomaniac; Jon, who is so deluded as to be ineffective; the Comedian, who was effective and wasn’t deluded, but was a right bastard, eventually reduced to a whimpering wreck, and then dead.

    Rorschach fights crime because he MUST. His only quirk is that he values justice over human life. Which becomes important in the climax, in which everyone must choose between justice and human life. When it came down to it, Dan and Laurie were moral jellyfish (they were in it for kicks, not for justice; also, their fear of nuclear annihilation is well-documented throughout). Jon and Veidt were deluded. Rorschach was the only one with any backbone, and God Jon killed him for it.

    Here’s another thing:
    In the end of the comic, Dan gives up after being repulsed by Veidt the first time. Rorschach keeps getting up, over and over. In the movie, Dan fights just as much, if not more, than Rorschach, and kinda holds his own for a while.

    This is because, in the movie, Dan is just as much of a protagonist as Rorschach. Compare his reaction to Rorschach’s death in the comic, to the reaction in the movie.

    The movie is friendlier. It has a far less brutal thematic landscape. But none of this makes it a bad story; it just makes it a different story.

    Another thing:
    In the comic, I wanna snap Veidt’s smarmy neck when he gives that “I’ve made myself feel every death” bullshit (if anyone felt every death, it was Rorschach, and you see what that got him). In the movie, not so much. I can almost believe him.

  39. I liked it. So, nobody get me wrong, based on what I’m about to say.

    Two things missing that are SUPER important in the comic: Rorschach’s confrontation with his landlady, and Rorshach pulling Dan off the topknot in the bar.

    These are important because, in the comic, there is only one protagonist, and it’s Rorschach, but not until those happen. Those moments show us his turn from psychopath to hero.

    Compare him to Dan and Laurie, who fight crime because they get a kick out of it; Veidt, who is a megalomaniac; Jon, who is so deluded as to be ineffective; the Comedian, who was effective and wasn’t deluded, but was a right bastard, eventually reduced to a whimpering wreck, and then dead.

    Rorschach fights crime because he MUST. His only quirk is that he values justice over human life. Which becomes important in the climax, in which everyone must choose between justice and human life. When it came down to it, Dan and Laurie were moral jellyfish (they were in it for kicks, not for justice; also, their fear of nuclear annihilation is well-documented throughout). Jon and Veidt were deluded. Rorschach was the only one with any backbone, and God Jon killed him for it.

    Here’s another thing:
    In the end of the comic, Dan gives up after being repulsed by Veidt the first time. Rorschach keeps getting up, over and over. In the movie, Dan fights just as much, if not more, than Rorschach, and kinda holds his own for a while.

    This is because, in the movie, Dan is just as much of a protagonist as Rorschach. Compare his reaction to Rorschach’s death in the comic, to the reaction in the movie.

    The movie is friendlier. It has a far less brutal thematic landscape. But none of this makes it a bad story; it just makes it a different story.

    Another thing:
    In the comic, I wanna snap Veidt’s smarmy neck when he gives that “I’ve made myself feel every death” bullshit (if anyone felt every death, it was Rorschach, and you see what that got him). In the movie, not so much. I can almost believe him.

  40. I liked it. So, nobody get me wrong, based on what I’m about to say.

    Two things missing that are SUPER important in the comic: Rorschach’s confrontation with his landlady, and Rorshach pulling Dan off the topknot in the bar.

    These are important because, in the comic, there is only one protagonist, and it’s Rorschach, but not until those happen. Those moments show us his turn from psychopath to hero.

    Compare him to Dan and Laurie, who fight crime because they get a kick out of it; Veidt, who is a megalomaniac; Jon, who is so deluded as to be ineffective; the Comedian, who was effective and wasn’t deluded, but was a right bastard, eventually reduced to a whimpering wreck, and then dead.

    Rorschach fights crime because he MUST. His only quirk is that he values justice over human life. Which becomes important in the climax, in which everyone must choose between justice and human life. When it came down to it, Dan and Laurie were moral jellyfish (they were in it for kicks, not for justice; also, their fear of nuclear annihilation is well-documented throughout). Jon and Veidt were deluded. Rorschach was the only one with any backbone, and God Jon killed him for it.

    Here’s another thing:
    In the end of the comic, Dan gives up after being repulsed by Veidt the first time. Rorschach keeps getting up, over and over. In the movie, Dan fights just as much, if not more, than Rorschach, and kinda holds his own for a while.

    This is because, in the movie, Dan is just as much of a protagonist as Rorschach. Compare his reaction to Rorschach’s death in the comic, to the reaction in the movie.

    The movie is friendlier. It has a far less brutal thematic landscape. But none of this makes it a bad story; it just makes it a different story.

    Another thing:
    In the comic, I wanna snap Veidt’s smarmy neck when he gives that “I’ve made myself feel every death” bullshit (if anyone felt every death, it was Rorschach, and you see what that got him). In the movie, not so much. I can almost believe him.

  41. Re: Missteps

    Like I said, I thought a lot of the music was intrusive.

    Occasionally, though, it was wonderfully subtle. Like the barely-audible Muzak version of “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” playing in Veidt’s office.

  42. Re: Missteps

    Like I said, I thought a lot of the music was intrusive.

    Occasionally, though, it was wonderfully subtle. Like the barely-audible Muzak version of “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” playing in Veidt’s office.

  43. So I’ve actually seen the movie twice now — once with a fellow fan of the book, another who hadn’t seen it at all.

    The first time through I really didn’t like the movie. It felt slow. I checked my watch a lot. LOVED the opening montage; great way to recontextualize the Under the Hood materials. But once they started interweaving all the individual character stories, it felt messy and overcomplicated and a little pointless. I liked it better when each story was framed, more or less, within an issue of the series. The entirety of my conversation afterward was about how the movie was different than the book, and that kind of wore me out.

    The second time, I liked the movie much, much more. I could see that they hit the thematic marks pretty much every time; I appreciated the casting more. The guy they got for Comedian — I really hope his career takes off after this.

    Things I liked:

    * The soundtrack, except when it was hamhanded (i.e. the owlship sex scene). Music is unique to the medium, and it was great to see them use it to tell more story, rather than just fill in the quiet spots. The places I liked the soundtrack the least were when they didn’t match up with the time period. I wanted to hear 70s songs in the 70s riot scenes, 80s New Wave in the modern bits, and so on.

    * The casting. Totally impressed, even with the guy they got for Ozy. I would have preferred someone who looked more physically capable, like a big beefy Aaron Eckhart type, but I have to admit I liked the skinny dude. Carla Gugino pulled off the cougar gag very well. I found Jon’s placid monotone incredibly grating, but Billy Crudup is waaay too good an actor for this to have been a mistake. I think it was effective, esp. the second time through.

    * Dan and Laurie’s costume fetish. Even the sex scene, despite the Nick Cave. Actually all the sex in general was fine. The Laurie + Jon threesome was just about perfect.

    * The masterplan and ending worked well. Much tighter than the book, without needing to introduce the whole complicated “colony of artists and scientists” subplot (and pirate tie-in).

    What I didn’t like:

    * The wire-fu fighting, both in the prison and in Karnak. The alleyway scene made them seem like competent, brutal street fighters — the same vibe they’re going for in Dark Knight. Once the wire-fu started I was very sad.

    * The soundtrack, when they got it wrong. Least favorite: The techno bits whenever the Owlship showed up. Out of period, jarring, yuck.

    * Rorschach narrating from his own journal. I liked it better when I was reading his written words. Not possible in a movie, but necessary for the punchline. :-/

    p.

  44. So I’ve actually seen the movie twice now — once with a fellow fan of the book, another who hadn’t seen it at all.

    The first time through I really didn’t like the movie. It felt slow. I checked my watch a lot. LOVED the opening montage; great way to recontextualize the Under the Hood materials. But once they started interweaving all the individual character stories, it felt messy and overcomplicated and a little pointless. I liked it better when each story was framed, more or less, within an issue of the series. The entirety of my conversation afterward was about how the movie was different than the book, and that kind of wore me out.

    The second time, I liked the movie much, much more. I could see that they hit the thematic marks pretty much every time; I appreciated the casting more. The guy they got for Comedian — I really hope his career takes off after this.

    Things I liked:

    * The soundtrack, except when it was hamhanded (i.e. the owlship sex scene). Music is unique to the medium, and it was great to see them use it to tell more story, rather than just fill in the quiet spots. The places I liked the soundtrack the least were when they didn’t match up with the time period. I wanted to hear 70s songs in the 70s riot scenes, 80s New Wave in the modern bits, and so on.

    * The casting. Totally impressed, even with the guy they got for Ozy. I would have preferred someone who looked more physically capable, like a big beefy Aaron Eckhart type, but I have to admit I liked the skinny dude. Carla Gugino pulled off the cougar gag very well. I found Jon’s placid monotone incredibly grating, but Billy Crudup is waaay too good an actor for this to have been a mistake. I think it was effective, esp. the second time through.

    * Dan and Laurie’s costume fetish. Even the sex scene, despite the Nick Cave. Actually all the sex in general was fine. The Laurie + Jon threesome was just about perfect.

    * The masterplan and ending worked well. Much tighter than the book, without needing to introduce the whole complicated “colony of artists and scientists” subplot (and pirate tie-in).

    What I didn’t like:

    * The wire-fu fighting, both in the prison and in Karnak. The alleyway scene made them seem like competent, brutal street fighters — the same vibe they’re going for in Dark Knight. Once the wire-fu started I was very sad.

    * The soundtrack, when they got it wrong. Least favorite: The techno bits whenever the Owlship showed up. Out of period, jarring, yuck.

    * Rorschach narrating from his own journal. I liked it better when I was reading his written words. Not possible in a movie, but necessary for the punchline. :-/

    p.

  45. I liked the sex scene. It was funny, the music was off beat and an obvious counterpoint. Parts of the sex were visually beautiful, parts were goofy, parts were awkward…. parts were raunchy.

    y’know… just kinda like sex in real life.

    And I think the sex is NOT gratitious. It is there to support that turn around scene with Dr. Manhattan. It is the “miracle” that the whole human race depends on. because the conception of the daughter of the Silk spectre is in the past, and is a secret, we need a proxy. That the daughter turns to Dan, a kinda schlub and has this pretty intense scene with him after Doc the superhung dude… that again reinforces the connection that humanity sometimes has with each other.

    Anyway. I liked it.

    I saw the film with two folks who had not read the comic. One (Jeff), a comic fan, but just never read it. Two (Millie), a person who does not have much geek background at all. They both liked it. Millie really surprised me by liking it quite a bit, and she seemed to understand a fairly complicated flashback storyline seamlessly. I’m not putting down my girlfriend here, but rather, she does occasionally struggle with details and tense. English is not her first language. And yet, she got it, wasn’t confused at all. Did she get every nuance? Hell no. But alternate timelines didn’t bother or confuse her.

    • My friends liked the film, they were just expecting an action film of sorts. They also felt that Dr. Manhattan’s “it’s 1984 Laurie is leaving me” sequence was an odd place for an intro to the character. Even though this is where it happens in the comic, and is a more in depth explanation as to how Dr Manhattan experiences time, and why he’s such a bummer. Maybe my friends weren’t paying attention because they were expecting an action film. I don’t know I find this interesting.
      I liked the film, I didn’t like how Laurie’s and Dan’s characters were made more heroic, but I didn’t make the film.
      I would love to see how much of the comic is Alan Moore and how much is David Gibbons.

    • My friends liked the film, they were just expecting an action film of sorts. They also felt that Dr. Manhattan’s “it’s 1984 Laurie is leaving me” sequence was an odd place for an intro to the character. Even though this is where it happens in the comic, and is a more in depth explanation as to how Dr Manhattan experiences time, and why he’s such a bummer. Maybe my friends weren’t paying attention because they were expecting an action film. I don’t know I find this interesting.
      I liked the film, I didn’t like how Laurie’s and Dan’s characters were made more heroic, but I didn’t make the film.
      I would love to see how much of the comic is Alan Moore and how much is David Gibbons.

  46. I liked the sex scene. It was funny, the music was off beat and an obvious counterpoint. Parts of the sex were visually beautiful, parts were goofy, parts were awkward…. parts were raunchy.

    y’know… just kinda like sex in real life.

    And I think the sex is NOT gratitious. It is there to support that turn around scene with Dr. Manhattan. It is the “miracle” that the whole human race depends on. because the conception of the daughter of the Silk spectre is in the past, and is a secret, we need a proxy. That the daughter turns to Dan, a kinda schlub and has this pretty intense scene with him after Doc the superhung dude… that again reinforces the connection that humanity sometimes has with each other.

    Anyway. I liked it.

    I saw the film with two folks who had not read the comic. One (Jeff), a comic fan, but just never read it. Two (Millie), a person who does not have much geek background at all. They both liked it. Millie really surprised me by liking it quite a bit, and she seemed to understand a fairly complicated flashback storyline seamlessly. I’m not putting down my girlfriend here, but rather, she does occasionally struggle with details and tense. English is not her first language. And yet, she got it, wasn’t confused at all. Did she get every nuance? Hell no. But alternate timelines didn’t bother or confuse her.

  47. I liked the sex scene. It was funny, the music was off beat and an obvious counterpoint. Parts of the sex were visually beautiful, parts were goofy, parts were awkward…. parts were raunchy.

    y’know… just kinda like sex in real life.

    And I think the sex is NOT gratitious. It is there to support that turn around scene with Dr. Manhattan. It is the “miracle” that the whole human race depends on. because the conception of the daughter of the Silk spectre is in the past, and is a secret, we need a proxy. That the daughter turns to Dan, a kinda schlub and has this pretty intense scene with him after Doc the superhung dude… that again reinforces the connection that humanity sometimes has with each other.

    Anyway. I liked it.

    I saw the film with two folks who had not read the comic. One (Jeff), a comic fan, but just never read it. Two (Millie), a person who does not have much geek background at all. They both liked it. Millie really surprised me by liking it quite a bit, and she seemed to understand a fairly complicated flashback storyline seamlessly. I’m not putting down my girlfriend here, but rather, she does occasionally struggle with details and tense. English is not her first language. And yet, she got it, wasn’t confused at all. Did she get every nuance? Hell no. But alternate timelines didn’t bother or confuse her.

  48. I liked the sex scene. It was funny, the music was off beat and an obvious counterpoint. Parts of the sex were visually beautiful, parts were goofy, parts were awkward…. parts were raunchy.

    y’know… just kinda like sex in real life.

    And I think the sex is NOT gratitious. It is there to support that turn around scene with Dr. Manhattan. It is the “miracle” that the whole human race depends on. because the conception of the daughter of the Silk spectre is in the past, and is a secret, we need a proxy. That the daughter turns to Dan, a kinda schlub and has this pretty intense scene with him after Doc the superhung dude… that again reinforces the connection that humanity sometimes has with each other.

    Anyway. I liked it.

    I saw the film with two folks who had not read the comic. One (Jeff), a comic fan, but just never read it. Two (Millie), a person who does not have much geek background at all. They both liked it. Millie really surprised me by liking it quite a bit, and she seemed to understand a fairly complicated flashback storyline seamlessly. I’m not putting down my girlfriend here, but rather, she does occasionally struggle with details and tense. English is not her first language. And yet, she got it, wasn’t confused at all. Did she get every nuance? Hell no. But alternate timelines didn’t bother or confuse her.

  49. Cultural Theory Essays

    Most of my opinions about the film have already been expressed, except for one. And then there’s the answer to your request for cultural theory essays.

    Rorscharch’s violence was, no matter how unpleasant to watch, necessary. Without that, his transformation into the undead (metaphorically) and ultimate final death means nothing. I say “undead” because he dies as Kovacs, but continues living as Rorschach the monster. One could argue that the point of the story is to show that the monster is not inhuman, but pure human. But that’s another argument.

    Now, as for essays on superheroes as symbols of ideology, I suggest to start digging around (online and offline) for the writings of Slavoj Zizek, and people who subscribe to his train of thought (e.g., Jodie Dean, Scott Stephens, Rex Butler, and so on). A quick search for “zizek dark knight ideology” will start you on the road.

    These might also get you started:
    Watching Batman with Zizek

    Joker’s Wild, or Batman Degree Zero

    And then there’s a few Zizek quotes on Kung-fu Panda as dangerous ideology, the Dark Knight and playing GTA IV with his 8 year old son.

    The references to post 9/11 are implicit in a lot of this Zizekian and Lacanian thought, largely because “9/11” was something that simply reinforced the previous ideological structures, rather than actually changing them. Argue about that if you like, but make sure you’ve read the literature first – it’s extensive.

    (p.s. great blog post, Judd; I feel invigorated)

  50. Cultural Theory Essays

    Most of my opinions about the film have already been expressed, except for one. And then there’s the answer to your request for cultural theory essays.

    Rorscharch’s violence was, no matter how unpleasant to watch, necessary. Without that, his transformation into the undead (metaphorically) and ultimate final death means nothing. I say “undead” because he dies as Kovacs, but continues living as Rorschach the monster. One could argue that the point of the story is to show that the monster is not inhuman, but pure human. But that’s another argument.

    Now, as for essays on superheroes as symbols of ideology, I suggest to start digging around (online and offline) for the writings of Slavoj Zizek, and people who subscribe to his train of thought (e.g., Jodie Dean, Scott Stephens, Rex Butler, and so on). A quick search for “zizek dark knight ideology” will start you on the road.

    These might also get you started:
    Watching Batman with Zizek

    Joker’s Wild, or Batman Degree Zero

    And then there’s a few Zizek quotes on Kung-fu Panda as dangerous ideology, the Dark Knight and playing GTA IV with his 8 year old son.

    The references to post 9/11 are implicit in a lot of this Zizekian and Lacanian thought, largely because “9/11” was something that simply reinforced the previous ideological structures, rather than actually changing them. Argue about that if you like, but make sure you’ve read the literature first – it’s extensive.

    (p.s. great blog post, Judd; I feel invigorated)

  51. Cultural Theory Essays

    Most of my opinions about the film have already been expressed, except for one. And then there’s the answer to your request for cultural theory essays.

    Rorscharch’s violence was, no matter how unpleasant to watch, necessary. Without that, his transformation into the undead (metaphorically) and ultimate final death means nothing. I say “undead” because he dies as Kovacs, but continues living as Rorschach the monster. One could argue that the point of the story is to show that the monster is not inhuman, but pure human. But that’s another argument.

    Now, as for essays on superheroes as symbols of ideology, I suggest to start digging around (online and offline) for the writings of Slavoj Zizek, and people who subscribe to his train of thought (e.g., Jodie Dean, Scott Stephens, Rex Butler, and so on). A quick search for “zizek dark knight ideology” will start you on the road.

    These might also get you started:
    Watching Batman with Zizek

    Joker’s Wild, or Batman Degree Zero

    And then there’s a few Zizek quotes on Kung-fu Panda as dangerous ideology, the Dark Knight and playing GTA IV with his 8 year old son.

    The references to post 9/11 are implicit in a lot of this Zizekian and Lacanian thought, largely because “9/11” was something that simply reinforced the previous ideological structures, rather than actually changing them. Argue about that if you like, but make sure you’ve read the literature first – it’s extensive.

    (p.s. great blog post, Judd; I feel invigorated)

  52. Cultural Theory Essays

    Most of my opinions about the film have already been expressed, except for one. And then there’s the answer to your request for cultural theory essays.

    Rorscharch’s violence was, no matter how unpleasant to watch, necessary. Without that, his transformation into the undead (metaphorically) and ultimate final death means nothing. I say “undead” because he dies as Kovacs, but continues living as Rorschach the monster. One could argue that the point of the story is to show that the monster is not inhuman, but pure human. But that’s another argument.

    Now, as for essays on superheroes as symbols of ideology, I suggest to start digging around (online and offline) for the writings of Slavoj Zizek, and people who subscribe to his train of thought (e.g., Jodie Dean, Scott Stephens, Rex Butler, and so on). A quick search for “zizek dark knight ideology” will start you on the road.

    These might also get you started:
    Watching Batman with Zizek

    Joker’s Wild, or Batman Degree Zero

    And then there’s a few Zizek quotes on Kung-fu Panda as dangerous ideology, the Dark Knight and playing GTA IV with his 8 year old son.

    The references to post 9/11 are implicit in a lot of this Zizekian and Lacanian thought, largely because “9/11” was something that simply reinforced the previous ideological structures, rather than actually changing them. Argue about that if you like, but make sure you’ve read the literature first – it’s extensive.

    (p.s. great blog post, Judd; I feel invigorated)

  53. Re: Missteps

    Also, it was originally to the tune of “You’re My Thrill” performed by Billie Holiday, rather than “Hallelujah.” I’m not sure Holiday would have saved that scene, though. I’m not sure anything could.

  54. Re: Missteps

    Also, it was originally to the tune of “You’re My Thrill” performed by Billie Holiday, rather than “Hallelujah.” I’m not sure Holiday would have saved that scene, though. I’m not sure anything could.

  55. My friends liked the film, they were just expecting an action film of sorts. They also felt that Dr. Manhattan’s “it’s 1984 Laurie is leaving me” sequence was an odd place for an intro to the character. Even though this is where it happens in the comic, and is a more in depth explanation as to how Dr Manhattan experiences time, and why he’s such a bummer. Maybe my friends weren’t paying attention because they were expecting an action film. I don’t know I find this interesting.
    I liked the film, I didn’t like how Laurie’s and Dan’s characters were made more heroic, but I didn’t make the film.
    I would love to see how much of the comic is Alan Moore and how much is David Gibbons.

  56. My friends liked the film, they were just expecting an action film of sorts. They also felt that Dr. Manhattan’s “it’s 1984 Laurie is leaving me” sequence was an odd place for an intro to the character. Even though this is where it happens in the comic, and is a more in depth explanation as to how Dr Manhattan experiences time, and why he’s such a bummer. Maybe my friends weren’t paying attention because they were expecting an action film. I don’t know I find this interesting.
    I liked the film, I didn’t like how Laurie’s and Dan’s characters were made more heroic, but I didn’t make the film.
    I would love to see how much of the comic is Alan Moore and how much is David Gibbons.

  57. It’s that dichotomy that gets me: its merits as a film and its accuracy as a filmed version of the comic. One of the best descriptions I’ve read was “slavish reproduction,” with all that implies.

  58. It’s that dichotomy that gets me: its merits as a film and its accuracy as a filmed version of the comic. One of the best descriptions I’ve read was “slavish reproduction,” with all that implies.

  59. Re: Snyder

    What’s the line between “slavish” and “respectful”? I thought he hit most of the right thematic notes, and did it in a movie-specific way. I mean, pull the movie apart scene-for-scene and it doesn’t particularly follow the GN frame-for-frame. It’s a very challenging story to pull from its own medium, and somehow he and/or his screenwriters pulled it off. Could a “shitty director” accomplish that?

    Also, the opening totally rocked. And he directed that too.

    I mean, he’s not the next Scorsese or Spielberg or whatever, but I’ll take a Zach Snyder movie over, say, a Michael Bay movie any day. Imagine the clusterfuck this movie would have been had it been directed by Uwe Boll or something.

  60. Re: Snyder

    What’s the line between “slavish” and “respectful”? I thought he hit most of the right thematic notes, and did it in a movie-specific way. I mean, pull the movie apart scene-for-scene and it doesn’t particularly follow the GN frame-for-frame. It’s a very challenging story to pull from its own medium, and somehow he and/or his screenwriters pulled it off. Could a “shitty director” accomplish that?

    Also, the opening totally rocked. And he directed that too.

    I mean, he’s not the next Scorsese or Spielberg or whatever, but I’ll take a Zach Snyder movie over, say, a Michael Bay movie any day. Imagine the clusterfuck this movie would have been had it been directed by Uwe Boll or something.

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