August 27, 2009

Justify My Netflix: Watchmen

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)


Today's movie: Watchmen, 2009 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because it was the most heavily hyped movie of the year, an extremely high-profile adaptation of the 1986 Alan Moore comic book, one of the harbingers of that industry's so-called "Dark Age" of the '80s and '90s and considered by fans one of the most important graphic novels in history. Because despite all this, it was also one of the biggest flops of the year as well, which has made me intensely curious to see it myself and discover why this is.

The reality: Jesus -- talk about the ultimate example of hitting all the right notes, yet somehow getting the entire f-cking song wrong anyway. Of course, I received a disturbing premonition of this earlier in the year, when I reviewed the early-release bonus DVD that served as a real-time companion to the movie when it was first in theatres, containing several mock-documentaries that were supposed to help audience members get caught up on this saga's insanely complicated backstory (it's essentially an alternative history of America from the 1930s through '80s, as seen through the filter of a world where superheroes are supposed to actually exist); as I complained about then, genre veteran Zack Snyder has this uncanny ability to duplicate almost shot-for-shot many of the scenes from the original comic, yet somehow completely fail to get across the spirit of that scene, and why Moore would want to include it in the first place. And unfortunately, the main movie is just another three freaking hours of this, with Snyder unwisely spending all his energy obsessively trying to recreate the exact visuals of the original comic, yet by the end utterly failing to get across why the original made such a splash when it first came out, utterly failing to understand that this is ultimately a sociological tale about the dark bits of our nation's history, not just another excuse for good-looking bodybuilders to run around in tights beating the sh-t out of each other. In fact, Moore's original tale was almost the opposite of this, a look at why these mentally-imbalanced sociopaths should've never been allowed to fight crime in the first place, a point that Snyder almost completely misses in his POW! WHIZZ! BANG! frat-boy git-r-done adaptation.

And in the meanwhile, the number of small mistakes Snyder makes as well starts needing a notebook at a certain point to keep track of, each of which will piss off Moore fans just a little more and a little more: Like the period pop music in the soundtrack which does nothing but call unwanted attention to itself; like the old-person makeup that looks literally like something out of some high-school play; like Synder's decision to make a four-time-reelected Richard Nixon (merely a minor detail in the background of the original comic) one of the major characters in the film version, a cringe-inducing embarrassment every time he appears on-screen; like the horrible casting Snyder is sometimes guilty of, with a Rorschach by Jackie Earle Haley for example who turns out to be more of a parody of a gravel-voiced psychopath instead of an actual gravel-voiced psychopath, not to mention an Ozymandias by Matthew Goode who looks more like a chickenhawk gay porn star than the charming billionaire with nearly superhuman strength he's supposed to be; and by the way, Snyder, if you film one more godd-mn scene in slow f-cking motion, I'm going to fly to Los Angeles, track you down, and kick your ass, you unwatchable f-cking hack. What an incredible waste of money and resources this turned out to be, and it's no wonder that this was not only one of the biggest flops in recent Hollywood history, but that Moore has declared that he will never again sell the film rights to any more of his work. With shoddy, clueless adaptations like these, who can blame him?

Strangest piece of trivia: Various groups have been trying to make a movie version of this book almost since it first came out in the mid-'80s, with at various points such well-known filmmakers as Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronosfky and Paul Greengrass all attached.

Worth your time? No no no no no no no

Filed by Jason Pettus at 2:51 PM, August 27, 2009. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |