Thursday, March 6, 2008

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (A look at the Watchmen photots)

Well I will definitely being watching the Watchmen when it comes out in 2009 but based on these newly released promotional character photos I will be making the trip to the theater with some reservations.

In general I like director Zak Snyder but I want to love him. His Dawn of the Dead remake was far better than I could've hoped for (though it traded on dread for action). I would even go so far to say that the ten minute opening sequence is one of the best pure horror sequences of all time. The rest of the film can't compete with it (though the "birthing" sequence is solid). While his follow-up film, 300, was visually inspired I felt it was dragged down by ponderous, pedantic narration and an extremely silly, myopic attitude and atmosphere. Audiences more than embraced it and helped Snyder have the cache necessary to take a big, high profile film like Watchmen.

"What is Watchmen?" asks those of you who probably lost their virginity before college. Watchmen is quite simply THE definitive analysis and deconstruction of superheroes and a masterpiece of the comic medium by Messrs. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Even if you don't like or read comics I cannot recommend it enough. Many story elements, archetypes and themes from Watchmen have been pilfered since its release in 1986; The Incredibles, Mystery Men and Heroes have all borrowed generously (though I would say that Watchmen is superior to any of these...especially Heroes), but it definitely has it's own feeling and flavor. Do these pictures convey that? Kind of. It's interesting to see how these fan reactions come in cycles, I've been reading a lot of "too leathery, too stiff, too Matrix-y/Batman and Robin-y" negative comments except if you'll remember back (something good fanboys OUGHT to do) almost identical reactions were leveled at the first X-Men in costume promo stills.

All right enough jibber jabber, let's get to critiquing.
First up, the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Well I'm so glad they kept the mustache. The ammo belts make him look awfully busy but just cause it's in the picture doesn't mean he'll be wearing it throughout the movie. I can't wait until the Grey's Anatomy fans come to this film and think "Awww Denny Duqette" and the Comedian shows up. Oh and then there's that smiley face button. How to sum it up? :)

Ozymandias (Matthew Goode). I like this actor in general but I'm not wild about this particular casting. He looks too young and in this shot (which I realize does not constitute the entire movie) he does not convey that he is the smartest, nicest, most physically proficient guy in the world. He just looks like a snot nosed kid. My friend Etan also pointed out that Snyder and co's typically myopic views of good and evil may be shining through in the poster. Also where's Baranbus? I want a genetically modified Lynx in the background damn it (I am nothing if not reasonable in my requests). I'm glad they kept the purple, very regal, but where's the yellow? Ozy should look friendly and approachable, this isn't it.
Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley). Perfect. Exactly right. If they hew towards the book everyone is going to go CRAZY for Rorschach. Also Jackie Earle Haley doing martial arts. How cool is that? Get ready for a lot of ink blot masks come Halloween 2009.
Silk Specter (Malin Akerman). Frankly, I'm more looking forward to seeing Carla Guigino as the original Silk Spectre, but cie la ve. I think Akerman is a competent comedic actress, even if she's been stuck in some stinkers (Brothers Solomon, Heartbreak Kid). But Silk Specter is called on for some heavy dramatic stuff. She comes off as more tough than sexy in the picture. Also a lot of black in here, I'd rather have more yellow, but oh well, we'll see come '09. Is this the woman who a god could fall in love with?
Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson). Nite Owl is supposed to embody the more embarrassing, impotent, fetish-y, parts of super-heroing. I guess one COULD argue this costume looks silly, but the lighting and posture kind of read as "bad-ass." I also wish they had kept the gut (though this could be a pic of Minute Men era Nite Owl). Still if you hire "the Prom King" you're going to want to show off those abs. I do LOVE that Archimedes (his flying owl ship) is in the background.

Argh, where is Doctor Manhattan? He's tough to market (being he's a bald, blue, naked adonis) and hard to show off (for the aforementioned reasons), but I want to see how he looks really badly.

All in all I'd say good but with reservations. I know, I know, stills aren't a movie. I'll just wait until the first preview comes out, then I'll praise/hammer on it with great ferocity.

One last thought, I finally realized today that this movie contains the former and current beaus of Ms. Mary Louise Parker, Billy Crudup (Dr. Manhattan) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian) respectively. Must have made for some...awkward moments on set. That's actually kind of cool as the characters do not like each other either.

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