Monday, March 16, 2009

Watchmen

I wasn't much of a superhero comics fan as a child. I loved comics and certainly the idea of drawings and words together and I grew up with 2000AD and stories like Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Nemesis the Warlock and Bad Company. If you also grew up with those, then you'll know that most superhero comics, by comparison, were plain stupid. Backwards.

Man in tights battles the forces of evil. Even as a young teenager, I'd think, how utterly naive. I think the only US comic that drew me in was Neil Gaiman's Sandman, mainly because it didn't treat me like a complete idiot.

Now people who don't know comics might be thinking at this point - well, of course. Comics are for kids. And, mostly, they are. But so were all those 2000AD stories and they weren't anywhere near as insulting.

Alan Moore wrote for 2000AD.

And then he wrote Watchmen. His take on the US superheros. And, when reading it, it was clear he was thinking the same thing I was - how utterly naive. He took that, and made it real. Showed how it might actually be if the world had supermen. And the world became a scary place. Many superhero comics tried to show human sides to their characters but Alan Moore actually made them human. And the one that wasn't... wasn't. Watchmen was a defining book of the '80s.

Many years later Zack Snyder made a remake of Dawn of the Dead and then went on to direct a movie version of Alan Moore's Watchmen. He stuck rather close to the book. Possibly too close at times - you wouldn't read the whole book at once and it was put out as clear distinct chapters with breaks whereas a movie is an 'all at once' experience. That made pacing very difficult. And some of the speeches that read fine on the page, sound a little odd spoken out loud in context.

So, if anything, I think the film could have done with more adaptation. A little more leeway in how faithful it had to be. Sure, some fans would spit venom over this and that being changed but a book is a book and a film is a film. All adaptations need to be, well, adapted.

And yet the one major thing that was changed didn't quite add up for me.

But, for me, what the film absolutely nailed were the characters. Those characters had all the spirit of the characters I read twenty years ago (yikes, is it really that long? Holy crap! How old am I?!) and, more than that, they had spirit on their own terms. I loved that all through it, Dan and Laurie just felt like two plain ol' regular people. And Jon's disconnection, his combination of look and that calm voice was perfect and had with it a sadness. I barely even need mention Rorschach. It was like they just pulled him from the pages and stuck him up on screen and he worked.

And, for me, that book was always about characters. If the film got that right, and for me it did, that's 90% of the battle to win me over.

I liked it. Just like the book was like no other superhero comic before it, the movie adaptation is like no other superhero movie.

6 comments:

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sephim said...

I think the only US comic that drew me in was Neil Gaiman's Sandman, mainly because it didn't treat me like a complete idiot.

That's what his books are for.

NurseExec said...

Loved the comic today!

Humphrey Erm said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the movie as well.

I personally enjoyed it, though I did dislike the change you mentioned as well. However, for me it was just fun to see everyone in the book in the flesh.

However, the comic is the better one of the two, and I will treasure my copy for ever!

Ron said...

I liked the film too, great review, great comics as always.

Past Expiry said...

Check out this cartoon about the Watchmen movie!

http://pastexpiry.blogspot.com/2009/04/cartoon-dr-manhattan-watchmen.html
*CARTOON*Feel free to post on your blog or "tweet"