Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


MJ: I've been looking forward to this movie since I heard Jeffrey Dean Morgan would be in it. I read Watchmen in January 2008, and understood why Jeffrey said fans of Denny would lose their....well, they wouldn't be getting the same character at all. I urged my teen-aged son to read it (okay, maybe not the best parenting move) but not until he saw the trailer was he a convert. So I thought the two of us could write a joint review of the movie for you.

JF: I was first introduced to Alan Moore through V For Vendetta, unaware that his true genius lay in a novel recommended to me by my mother. Hurm.

MJ: I loved V for Vendetta, the movie, but never read the book. I had actually never read a graphic novel before Watchmen (thank you JDM).

JF: Watchmen takes place in an alternate 1985 in which Richard Nixon is still President, the United States won the Vietnam War and superheroes have been outlawed except for the God-like Dr. Manhattan and the nihilistic Comedian whose murder kicks off the plot.

MJ: The man dies IN EVERYTHING.

JF: Hehe, "Deady."


MJ: FUNNY. Poor JDM. He said when his agent sent him the graphic novel, he thought the agent was playing a joke on him-he died on page three. The agent told him not to be a...well, to just keep reading. He went to meet Zach, who told him the role was his if he wanted. I think Zach was the perfect director for this-he clearly had a vision going in.

JF: Yeah, my friend Sam said he would've rather seen Terry Gilliam direct it. Isn't he cute? The movie stays ridiculously faithful to the novel in all aspects but the ending, which honestly does not bother me.

MJ: The movie was so close to the book that I was actually ticking events off in my head: This needs to happen, and this, and this. I agree about the ending. It seemed to make more sense and create more conflict this way.

JF: There's violence. Lots of violence.

MJ: I hid my eyes pretty much every time Rorschach was on the screen. He was not sane, but he did have some of the best lines in the movie. I loved the line, "God didn't much care what any of us did that night." Also, "I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me."


JF: He had some of the greatest lines in the history of superhero movies. Speaking of greatest, best opening credits in the history of mankind. Bob Dylan makes everything better.

MJ: Agreed. It worked as a terrific prologue, giving the viewers who read the book AND the ones who hadn't a history of these costumed heroes....who weren't really all that heroic. These people wanted to help society but ended up being consumed by their own egos, or by their own power, or hiding behind their masks. It's a great character study.

JF: Psychologists will love this movie. It's definitely more mature in that aspect, as well as giving the existence of superheroes cultural and political aspects, i.e. Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) partying with David Bowie and The Village People and the United States using Dr. Manhattan to win the Vietnam War. Although...the political bits left something to be desired but the first bit with the McLaughlin Group: perfection.

MJ: It did a good job of setting the time period-I never watched the McLaughlin Group, but I remember SNL making fun of it. During the credits, I saw that Annie Leibowitz was portrayed. I recognized the Andy Warhol character and of course JFK and Jackie. My quibble with Nixon was he looked like a caricature. Yes, I know, this is a movie about superheroes, but everything else looked "real," even the big blue guy.

JF: Where's Frank Langella when you need him? Even though I think this guy did a good job, just the nose...long. Like the movie, actually. But despite its length, the film is really fast-paced due to the fact that it has a lot of ground to cover, but stay with it, it's worth it.


MJ: Yet some scenes, like the love scene, were a hair too long. I would have rather they built up other parts of the story, like the big revelation that I'd been looking forward to. It lost some of its emotional punch because a lot of the backstory was compressed.

JF: What the hell was up with that sex scene? It was unreasonably long when it was only depicted in a few frames in the novel. And to "Hallelujah?" There are so many things that are wrong with this scene.

MJ: There is only so much of Patrick Wilson I want to see, you know?

JF: I was more comfortable with Dr. Manhattan's person because at least his nudity highlighted his gravitation away from humanity.


MJ: Yeah, and his need for PANTS? I thought it was just because he didn't shred his pants like the Hulk when he got bigger.

JF: Maybe he just likes the breeze.

MJ: My son, ladies and gentlemen.

JF: Moving on, fans of Grey's Anatomy and Supernatural ...

MJ: That would be me.

JF: ...have been trying to tell me this for ages and I finally agree: Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a horribly underrated actor and he was great as The Comedian. Only he could look so cool beating up hippies to KC & The Sunshine Band.


MJ: He was wicked. Not adorable or redeemable at all. But that music was terrific. I've heard people complain that the soundtrack drew them out of the movie. I enjoyed it, though. "Unforgettable" was playing as a backdrop for the Comedian's murder, "Sound of Silence" during the funeral, "Hallelujah" during the love scene....well done.

JF: Gah, "Hallelujah..." The score was perfect though, it had a real Blade Runner feel to it, but...cooler? Zack definitely liked contrasting themes just as Moore did in the novel. The symmetry that is so prominent in the book also presents itself in the film, but most of it requires a second viewing to understand.

MJ: I do want to see it again. It's a long movie, though, so....maybe after a week or so.

JF: True that, yo. My butt's still flat from two viewings. But Jackie Earle Haley makes it worth it because Jackie Earle Haley is absolutely brilliant as Rorschach. Role of a lifetime despite Christian Bale voice. Lives in San Antonio. Must investigate further. Jackie Earle Haley.

MJ: I loved his scenes with Dan (Nite Owl) and when he was unmasked.

JF: The scenes on Mars are some of my favorite scenes in cinematic history. They're just so beautiful. Towards the end, it kind of has a Return Of The King feel to it, just in how it's edited and in the sense of urgency. Maybe that's just me.

MJ: I didn't get that comparison, and to be honest, Dr. Manhattan was probably the least compelling character for me.

JF: You take that back!

MJ: Come on-the Comedian was intriguing, Rorschach was fascinating, Silk Spectre was interesting...okay, maybe Nite Owl was the least compelling. While Billy Crudup did a terrific job, I felt a distance from the character.

JF: Which makes sense if you think about it. Isn't he getting further away from humanity? Therefore, humans would fall out of touch with him.

MJ: Right. Well, they did a good job with that. So the Mars scenes, while cool, weren't my favorite. I know those scenes were very important to Watchmen fans.

JF: Very much so, but Zack Snyder may be upsetting some Bob Dylan fans with My Chemical Romance's cover of "Desolation Row." But despite my moral opposition to their cover, it fit. "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?" by Elvis Costello would've been a better fit.

MJ: While I love Elvis, I thought the song they used fit great. So, final movie of the year?

JF: What could possibly top it? The Wolverine movie? Please.


JF: Anyone in Watchmen could easily destroy Gambit. AND THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE POWERS!

MJ: Hey, it's your fault I even know who Gambit is. Remember those cartoons we'd watch over and over?

JF: Uh huh, and who's the one who recommended a comic book to her son? That just happened.

MJ: My son has WAY too much exposure to pop culture. Back to the movie....I've not been able to get it out of my head for days, and not just the JDM parts (he's actually only in a handful of scenes because, you know, he DIES at the beginning.) Still, really a powerful movie.

JF: You can forgive Zack Snyder for 300 now.

MJ: Hey, now! How can you forget, "THIS IS SPARTA???"

JF: By memorizing the first lines of Rorschach's journal or anything that has artistic merit.

MJ: You like having gas in your car, right?

JF: Most car thieves don't know how to drive a stick, I do.

MJ: Because I taught you. Behave.

JF: "Rorschach's Journal, October 12, 1985..."

MJ: This could go on forever.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?


Masha Holl said...

Mary, this was too funny.

I wasn't sure I wanted to see the movie. I don't trust trailers. I'm too lazy to take my b...ehind to a theater. But you and Josh may just have convinced me. His comments are such a hoot.

MJFredrick said...

Isn't he a trip? I'd be interested to know what people who haven't read the graphic novel think about the movie. I was very aware of what needed to happen next, so I'm sure the movie won't be the same experience. Let me know!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

You guys were GREAT! I'm gonna have to steal the idea for some future post. :)

I originally wanted to see the movie, then thought maybe I didn't, the more I learned about it. Too political, too psychological, too violent. But you may have convinced me to change my mind again!

Trish Milburn said...

LOL! Deady? The breeze? Yep, this is your son.

But dude, I liked 300!

What, has JDM been in one movie where he doesn't bite it?

Trish Milburn said...

Did you see Billy Crudup on The Daily Show several days ago? Was a funny interview.

MJFredrick said...

Natalie, I thought you and your daughter should do something like this with an episode review or something!

It's really an intriguing movie.

Trish, I liked 300, too! And JDM doesn't die in PS I LOVE YOU or THE ACCIDENTAL HUSBAND. Or JAM. And we'd JUST seen Billy Crudup's interview when we wrote this. By the time we went back to reference it, it had been bumped. I liked how he described the characters themselves.

Anonymous said...

Okay, no matter HOW good the movie is, this recap was either equally good or better :-) Thanks so much for sharing your great thoughts (and making me laugh)!


Anonymous said...

That was awesome! You two need to team up again. How old is Josh?

MJFredrick said...

I'm so glad y'all liked it. Josh is 17 and editor-in-chief at his school newspaper. He was going into journalism before he became enamored of politics. He's really a fan of dystopian literature, which is why I knew he'd like this book!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

That's what I was thinking, Mary! Of course, it would mean she'd have to stay up really late, and that doesn't work so good. But maybe for a repeat when we hit hiatus again.

Anonymous said...

I was just at a YA seminar for librarians this week and heard about a fascinating book called Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. Might be up Josh's alley. My son and I are both going to read it.

Lori T said...

This was great!

I have not read the novel, but I did see the movie last night. I really loved it and I have to admit that I really went to see it solely for Jeffrey Dean Morgan...I love that man. I thought it was very good and I loved the music. I really do need to check out the novel and possibly this would be a way to lure my son into reading something.

Great post!

MJFredrick said...

Lori, JDM was my main reason for seeing it, as well. Once I got into the Watchmen culture, I wanted to see it for what it was, but JDM got me intrigued.

The comic is darker than the movie, if you can imagine. It's got another layer, Tales from the Black Freighter, that both my brother and I were really bothered by.