Watched It

Dear J-

I keep getting distracted; right now we’re half-following Watchmen as I try to ignore my sneaking suspicion that it’s somehow been turned into Forrest Gump with masks (seriously, what’s with the un-subtle musical choices, calculated to appeal to, well, me and my fellow Gen Xers? And who’s going to buy Carla Gugino as a sixty-seven year old? Well, I suppose that if Sally Field can be Tom Hanks’s mother in a movie just a few years after she was his love interest …). I suppose that there’s a lot that can be excused in the name of spectacle, but it plays out like a series of disconnected vignettes instead of a cohesive story.

It’s what the style is now, I suppose; instead of the rich tones of the original, to compress it down to the three hours (!) of film, we get it painted in bold strokes and pastiches. I said it before the film came out — so long as it pushes people to read the original, I suppose that it wouldn’t be in vain, but too often we substitute the movie as a reward for reading the source. Sometimes I wonder if the reading lists in high school was set by the availability of movies (likely the other way, as getting good stories cheap is easy when you can pull them from copyright-expired classics).

Back to the movie, then; what made dramatic sense and great pithy bon mots in the comic fall leadenly on screen. You might think that it’s inherent in the nature of the source material — how could you count on something as crass as this, especially compared with something like, say, Dickens, right — but it’s better than advertised: Alan Moore has written a believable world that breathes with as much menace and decay as, say, Blade Runner but this is the treatement it gets? Maybe I’m getting too jaded by movies in general, or my tolerance for crap is decreasing.



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