The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Smile Away

Who watches the Watchmen? Well, last week that was me. Four quid, Virgin movies on demand. I like the word ‘demand’. Makes me think I’m banging a fist on a desk saying ‘Give me my movies, damnit!’.

It was okay. I suppose the main criticism anyone could have of it is that it’s an adaptation which is too faithful to the source material. Where the source material is very long, very talky, low on action, and ends anticlimactically with a daft villain plan to bring about world peace by destroying New York. Instead it’s all about exploring a fictional world where superheroes once existed and were outlawed, and about exploring the back-stories of those superheroes as they look back to more innocent times. The murder mystery, even the gang-getting-back-together, are almost incidental.

And to be fair, they did get rid of all the tedious cutaways to pirates in the original book, though I did miss the giant space octopus turning up at the end.

It could have done with some cutting down, focussing, because where the comic strip takes its time, in a movie you get the point very quickly and don’t need reminding twice; and it’s preferable to find out about characters by what they say and do, rather than what they recollect in flashback whilst gazing out of a rain-spattered window.

Three major flaws though. The wigs were terrible. Utterly unbelievable. Even worse, though, was the prosthetic make-up. Nixon has never looked less like Nixon. It did that annoying thing that Stardust did, of casting young actors to play elderly characters, when it would be much simpler, cheaper and more convincing to cast old actors.

And thirdly, the choice of songs on the soundtrack. Dylan. Hendrix. Basically anything you might expect to find on Jeremy Clarkson’s iPod.

1 comment:

  1. The film just seemed a bit pointless to me. The comic created such a stir because it was so far ahead of everything else in its field at the time. The film would have needed to be something incredible to have the same impact.

    It was also about the comic form as much as anything else, so most of its narrative devices don't really work outside comics.

    And Rorschach's voice was bobbins.