“The Watchmen”March 13, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Fiction | 1 Comment
This is something that almost never happens: I read a book and watched the movie nearly simultaneously, at a time when it was still in theatres! I had been noticing that everyone seemed to be reading Watchmen, and when my man Rocket Scientist pointed it out at Borders, I told him I’d heard good things about it. Neither of us realized there was a movie in the works. (We don’t go to movies often because he insists on getting popcorn and I always make myself sick on it). Anyway, we both read it and then went to see it a few days later. We separated at the restrooms, and then I gleefully walked into the wrong theatre, not even realizing I was halfway through the storyline, wondering for 15 minutes where he could be. (That’s why he’s the rocket scientist and I’m the secretary).
Now, I love graphic novels. My introduction to comix came at the age of 4, when I used to read my dad’s Heavy Metal magazines. I go through piles of these things. Alan Moore is great, and Watchmen is definitely a classic of the genre. It stands up to the test of time – oddly, talk of Afghanistan in 1985 has become topical again.
The problem with adapting any book is that the fans invariably hate it. It’s surprising that “The Book is Always Better Than the Movie” isn’t actually carved into a stone tablet somewhere. Watching The Watchmen, the comic was still so fresh in my mind that I found myself unable to watch it without comparing frames to panels. I can’t really tell you objectively whether it was a great movie, the way I could with Iron Man.
Here’s what I can tell you. It was a colossal labor of love. The costumes were brilliant. The sets were awesome. The casting was so eerie that RS and I speculated plastic surgery could have been involved. Entire sections of dialogue emerged intact. Scene after scene looked exactly, angle for angle, the way it did in print.
Ah, but then they had to… add… a few things. That soupcon of drama – the fight scenes were more graphic and seemed to last longer, there was more sex, there was a bit of chewing the scenery in scenes that did not come from the original. It was a bit de trop. And then! They Changed the Ending.
My verdict: read the comic. Watch the movie. But maybe watch the movie first and wait a year to read the comic so you won’t notice the changes – or at least they won’t beat you over the head quite so much.