Experimental Music Love

September 22, 2008

Trailer Trash: Watching the Watchmen

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 10:48 pm

by David Quin, age 21 and 1/2

Anybody with even half an ear to the ground in the musty backwater of pop-culture and geekery that is fanboy-land, will no doubt be aware of the feverish anticipation which is being generated by every droplet of information which appears in relation to the movie version of Alan Moore and Davie Gibbons’ seminal graphic novel Watchmen. To the uninitiated this excitement may seem odd – comic book adaptations are ten a penny these days, from the already well established (Batman, Spiderman and so forth) to the obscure (Ghost Rider anyone?), but Watchmen really is different; an incredibly emotionally and politically complex work, which refuses to paint its world in terms of crude morality, but rather keeps a studied distance from the world it portrays, never shirking from the consequences of its characters’ belief systems, adored, rightly, by those who’ve read it, and regarded in some quarters as one of the peaks of late twentieth century literature.

But this is Quin and Film, not Quin and Comics, and so, with that in mind, can we expect Watchmen to be the err… Watchmen of summer blockbusters? In a word; probably not, although, that’s not to say the signs are all bad. Director Zack Snyder, judging by his previous films, appears to have two attitudes to source material; that they must be pointless updated (in his remake of Dawn of the Dead) or treated with slavish reverence (in his adaptation of 300). Judging by trailer, he seems to be going for the latter with Watchmen, with the scenes shown more-or-less identical to their equivalent comic book panels, and Gibbons’ luridly beautiful palette of yellows and purples and browns and blues remaining intact. Although this probably means we won’t get a truly individual, cinematic interpretation of the book, it at least offers hope Snyder’s film won’t be as crudely Hollywood-ised as the previous adaptations of Moore’s work; even V for Vendetta, the, as Cahiers du Cinema put it, ‘least bad’ film version of a Moore comic, suffered from an entirely pointless romantic sub-plot and an unnecessary desire to change the lead female character from a vulnerable waif into a ballsy Hollywood heroine which made many of her actions incomprehensible.

It’s also gratifying that the major roles in the film have been given to relatively unknown actors, among them an Oscar nominee in Jackie Earle Hayley, playing the incredibly complex, psychopathic Rorschach. In a wonderful display of perverseness, the only actor who could remotely be described as a ‘name,’ Billy Crudup, (of Almost Famous almost fame) plays a character who spends the majority of his screen time unrecognisable as the blue, naked humanoid Dr. Manhattan. The damage a star’s screen persona can bring to a film can be catastrophic; indeed, the horrible miscasting of Johnny Depp as he slightly pathetic and helpless Inspector Abberlaine in From Hell, and Sean Connery as the well-past-his-prime, drug addled Allan Quatermain in The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen were two of the (many) mistakes which ruined earlier Moore adaptations. At least with the Watchmen actors, there is no star baggage, and, hopefully, this means the actors will be forced to bend to their characters, rather than vice-versa.

Unfortunately, though, at this point, this is still only hopeful conjecture. For every large detail which suggests the film may be an adequate companion piece for the comic (and, make no mistake, that’s all it will be), there’s another smaller, unsettling detail, which suggests Snyder may not quite grasp the subtleties of the book. Already he’s commissioned god-awful emo whiners My Chemical Romance to record their horrid rock cover of Bob Dylan’s Desolation row for the end credits and boasted that ‘in my superhero movie the bad guy wants world peace…and Batman can’t get it up,’ which suggests he might not quite get the complexities of the book’s moral outlook or the pathetic, insecure humanity of Nite Owl, Moore’s Batman substitute. Ultimately judgement will have to be reserved until the film’s release in March next year. Until then, we’ll have to pray every night that, coming out of the cinema, we’ll be glancing to each other, and saying, with relieved smiles, ‘Well, it could have been worse’.



  1. […] un iubitor de muzica experimental;a blogheaza despre ecranizarile dupa alan moore […]

    Pingback by zombierama » Blog Archive » who’s watching the watchmen? — October 3, 2008 @ 1:58 am |Reply

  2. Who”s the Villain…

    Comment by ?n'kl — November 1, 2008 @ 12:10 pm |Reply

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