cephalopod9 wrote:This might sound strange, but it kind of seems like Snyder chose to tread lightly. He doesn't go to the extreme depths the comic did, and he avoids retooling more than he has to; he could have made Bubastis a dog or something, but left her in instead.
Which is just one example of a time when staying too faithful to the comic ended up hurting the film. He left in something that made no sense and wasn't explained, and then expected the audience to get the emotional payoff of that character's fate. It's like leaving in the Outer Limits reference (and making it more noticeable, in fact) when the thing that was referencing is no longer part of the story. Ultimately, while Snyder had good intentions, I feel like he went too far sometimes, and didn't understand the comic as well as he should have.
My thoughts kept changing afterwards; I didn't feel comfortable giving my opinion because it wasn't solid.
Now, though, I've seen it twice (once in "fake Imax", those jerks) and I feel stabilized. Spoilers may follow; proceed at your own risk.
When I first saw it, I came out of the theater with the sense of, "That was extremely entertaining and extraordinarily flawed." Snyder made some very odd choices, and a few actual mistakes (Malin Ackerman, for instance).
Seeing it again, though, I was much more able to get away from the comic and look at how it worked on its own, and it works surprisingly well to put you in the moment. Despite some acting lapses, the characterization is there, it's generally correct (Veidt being kind of the big exception), it's interesting, it's thematically relevant. The basic meaning of the plot is still there, and they did an excellent job of simplifying a very complicated story into a neat cause and effect line. In fact, I never got that good of an understanding from the comic, because the other details and twists and things kindof obscured the actual throughline of the story.
There are large swaths of the film that to me are basically perfect--the opening, for example, from the studio logos through to when Malin Ackerman first opens her mouth. After the egregious use of "Sound of Silence", the whole Comedian chapter is extremely well-done. Skip the bad acting and terrible writing in the Silk Spectre 1 and 2, and then you're good through at least the end of Manhattan's stuff. So on and so forth. The flaws are really dwarfed for the most part, moment to moment, by the visceral and intellectual pleasures of near-perfect adaptation.
The stuff that still bothers me, though, are the pieces that hurt the film as a whole.
-A second viewing has shown me that there is some complexity there to reward study, but not nearly as much as in the comic.
-Veidt's portrayal is incredibly one-dimensional, which really hurts the last act of the movie when they start alluding to complexities they never really established (represented perfectly by the fact that Bubastis just comes out of nowhere and is never explained, but they still expect you to get its last scene).
-Snyder's love on the one hand of strange levels of ultraviolence (making all the heroes "overly strong", having Dan and Laurie slaughter those thugs) and his simultaneous distaste for showing the actual bloody aftermath of Veidt's plan is very strange, to say the least, and, while I don't want to get into accusations of character, it ends up weakening the movie's central moral conundrum.
-It's a shame, but occasionally the movie is simply too faithful to philosophy babble that reads well on the page but plays as way too purple on the screen.
-Pacing. Say what you will about Moore's comic (and it certainly has its own oddities and imperfections), it has essentially perfect pacing, every scene contributing precisely what it needed to, lasting the proper length, and constantly drawing you forward to the next scene and the next chapter. (It helps to skip the supplementals between chapters, though.) This version simply doesn't have that same drive, and although there's usually enough things going on that it doesn't actually drag, it doesn't have that same excitement that we feel again and again in the comic. One example will suffice--the comic has the scene between Dan and Laurie conclude with:
"I think we should spring Rorschach."
BAM next chapter.
The movie, instead, takes the time after that to have them go, "Well, why?" "Oh, because of all these reasons." "Wait, are you sure this is a good idea?" "No but I think we should do it anyway." It's totally unnecessary and it sucks all the excitement out of that moment.
Pacing is the main reason I'm looking forward to the 4 hour complete version--I honestly think making it longer will actually pace it better. This constant truncation is, I think, part of the problem both in terms of pacing and with characterization--Moore designs each chapter (those that look at specific characters) to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. More often than not, Snyder ends up cutting off the end (or most of it) in order to hurry on to the next scene, and again and again that screws up the rhythm and it leaves character and thematic analysis incomplete.
I could go on, but I don't want to. There are a lot of things I like about the movie as a whole.
-I think it works in the same context as Watchmen did in comics--by introducing ideas to the superhero genre that had never before been seen in that medium. Before the film I had never seen one superhero raping another, or the exploration of the psychopathic, sexual, and philosophical ideas underlying the vigilante, etc. I'm intensely curious to see how Hollywood will follow Watchmen's lead in that area (and hoping it won't be with mindless injections of r-rated material to otherwise ordinary stories).
-I like how it works as an 80s movie. When two characters walk down an alley and immediately a group of thugs decides to mess with them, that's an 80s movie. When a character puts on big ugly spectacles and sees a pretty girl through them, that's an 80s movie. When Veidt looks at them leaving and there's snow all around him and he's like "ach I'm so emo" and the music is all choir stuff, that's an 80s movie. When Dr. Manhattan is striding through Vietnam to "Ride of the Valkyries", exploding terrified soldiers, that's an 80s movie. It's deliciously over the top, and it works as both pastiche and as parody.
-I like most of the direction, the visual strategies, the acting (Manhattan, Dreiberg, and Rorschach are simply perfect, as are most of the bit players), most of the music choices, that excellent opening credits montage, and the different thematic elements Snyder decided to forefront (like Manhattan as God).
All in all, when it works, it sings, and when it doesn't work, by now I'm able to look past it.
"Inna final analysis," I think the comic is still better, but I think they're worthy companion pieces. I recently picked up this idea on the internet, and it sounds pat but it's totally true: Moore's graphic novel is a Rorschach test. His characters are there to represent different human reactions to the problems of life and death and sick human nature. Do you withdraw like Manhattan or Dreiberg? Exult in it like the Comedian? Fight it, like Laurie? Put your head down and bull through it, like Rorschach? Etc. And how you read the success or failure of their attempts, and how they relate to the whole of the work, ultimately says more about you than it does about the book. This movie, then, works as one director's interpretation of the material. It's by no means final or definitive; it's not necessarily the way you or I see the book; but it is the way HE sees the book, and that makes it fascinating.