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WATCHMEN

    I really can’t improve on this review in the New York Times, but I can offer my critique of this movie as a writer of both scripts and prose.  I didn’t hate this movie.  I didn’t walk out of it the way I did with the remake of King Kong.  I didn’t actually fall asleep the way I did in The 300, another offering from this director, but I did walk out of the theater with Ian, and we were both ranting, riffing off each other’s complaints.
    This movie committed the greatest sin any form of entertainment can commit — it was boring.  It was boring for several inter-related reasons.  First, it was far too faithful to the source material, and the source material has a fatal structural flaw in terms of providing a satisfying experience for a reader or a viewer.
    The flaw is that the protagonists don’t… well… protag.  Nothing they do has any effect on the outcome.  Ozymandias sets off his bombs and kills millions of people to “save billions”.  The other characters are shocked, shocked.  Rorschach gets his wish, he finally gets to die and be put out of his misery.  Ultimately they all seem to shrug and go on with their lives.  Dr. Manhattan leaves Earth and the humans with whom he can no longer connect and goes off the explore the universe.  Ozymandias is still rich.  Silk Specter makes up with her mommy and Night Owl II gets a girlfriend.
    Daniel Abraham makes a compelling argument that that this flaw was an intentional choice on Moore’s part because he was sending a poison pen letter to the entire comic book industry.  I think it’s an interesting point, but for me it doesn’t justify two hours ad forty-six minutes of boredom.
    It also doesn’t help that Moore appears to be a complete misanthrope so he finds every human interaction to be grotesque and ultimately fruitless.
    I’m also think the eighties setting worked against the movie.  It all just felt so quaint.  I grew up during the Cuban missile crises and “duck and cover” drills, and even I can’t get real worked up about nuclear holocaust anymore.  It was something George and I discovered when we were plotting the new Wild Card books.  George really wanted to make a part of the story about nuclear disarmament.  I looked around the table at our new, younger writers, and I realized this issue had absolutely no resonance for them.  So we polled them, and guess what — it didn’t mean jack to them.  I think we found a different way to talk about the issues that interested the two different generations of writers, but it wasn’t about superpowers and their nukes.
    And then there’s the portrayal of women in this movie.  I can’t get too worked up about this because I know going in that almost every superhero movie is going to reduce women to sex objects or victims.  But if the film is based on a Moore or a Miller comic the treatment of women is going to be just that much worse.  And before everybody jumps all over me — I liked SIN CITY, but I knew going in it was not going to be kind, much less empowering to girls.
    Finally, the level of violence in WATCHMEN reached the point where it became blood porn.  I like action films.  I love to watch a good shoot ‘em up, but this was just grotesque.
    It will be interesting to see how this film performs.  Selfishly I hope it does well so someday, maybe producers will take a look at my Wild Card script, but I can’t say it’s a good movie.  Of all the recent crop of superhero films I’ll take IRONMAN.

   

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