Posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 12:00 AM
I don’t get a chance to get out and see many movies in the theatre now that my daughter has reached an age where she won’t quietly sleep in the theatre while it is playing. But my wife and I, large fans of the graphic novel genre that we are, dedicated a rare babysitting night to go to the premiere of Watchmen.
We were not disappointed. Before I get into the crux of the review of the movie I’d like to throw some salt at my fellow (and much more commonly posting) reviewer at Calgary Movies. Son Tran is an able and adept reviewer… of comedies. Watchmen I think was beyond the humble aspirations of what Mr. Tran looks for in a movie and I would therefore posit that he is ill qualified to review the movie. Of course, your average moviegoer may agree with Mr. Tran, but I believe that Watchmen was made to be more than your average moviegoer’s fare. When a reviewer mentions the blue genitalia of Dr. Manhatten not once but twice it is likely that there has been some form of reaction underway in the reviewer that he hasn’t properly dealt with before writing his review.
Furthermore, in regards to Mr. Tran’s review, he mentions several times that the source material is a comic. He goes so far as to refuse to call it a graphic novel, as though that term is erudite and of grander sophistication than the material is worth. Sticking it to the likes of the Hugo award (which he refers to as well) and to Time Magazine (who honored Watchmen, the graphic novel, with a place in its 100 best novels of all time) Mr. Tran is decidedly lumping the source material in a category he feels to be of lesser quality than literature that doesn’t have pictures. If he’s referring to the serial nature of comics (and stating that Watchmen is a compilation of shorter works) need I remind Mr. Tran that other such great works were written and published piecemeal from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes to Stephen King’s own Green Mile. It is only with the ability to produce quality binding cheaply that we presently have the opportunity to read entire works in one piece as they were envisioned by the author in this modern age. Nevertheless, to attempt to demean the work by classifying it as other than it is you only succeed at demonstrating your opinion as opposed to your review. After all, an opinion is much like a comic book – any child can have one. It is only through proper rumination, support of evidence and lucid comment on observation that one raises their opinion to the enlightened state of review – or dare I say Graphic Novel.
And to those who have yet to decide whether or not to see Watchmen, or would be entertained by my review, it is as follows.
Watchmen does what good movies should do. It provokes conversation, incites discussion and rouses questions on the part of its audience and reviewers. The plot hangs together solidly despite being burdened with an abundance of characters, altered global history and the personally framed history of the characters themselves. There is a medley of sights and images never before seen on the silver screen. It is truly remarkable how dense the movie is, yet how easily followed it is and how thought provoking it is. Roger Ebert enjoyed it so much, was so stimulated by it, he saw it twice. A better star rating I couldn’t even fathom than that. It says a great deal when the movie expert himself declares he’s seeing a movie a second time. He went on to blog about it, provoking nearly five hundred replies of varying sorts. Rotten Tomatoes has a plethora of exciting, enthused and interesting things to say about it, that aren’t derived from fans of the source material. Fans of the source material of course rain praise and accolades from on high, it’s to be expected. The detractors of the movie are few – standing alongside Mr. Tran they equivocate that the movie is far too long, far too unwieldy and with too much depth has little in the way of significance and plot to justify all the backstory and backdrop.
There isn’t “Star-power” in Watchmen. It’s simply well-cast. The movie doesn’t rely on the power of a brand-name star to draw in the audiences, and while I do agree that the commercials and production company paid an arm and a leg in advertising and marketing to get butts in the seats, I think that had more to do with the style of the times to have as many people see it in the first week before it slides out of the 3000+ theatres it was shipped into before the next big picture comes along to capture the media’s attention.
Watchmen is a must see movie and is an early precursor to the direction films are starting to take now and will be taking in the years to come. Much like Metropolis in the 1930s Watchmen will change the way in which stories are conceived, storyboarded and brought to film – like it or not.
I give it 4 blue Dr. Manhatten’s out of 4.
Kyle Gould is a University of Calgary Graduate in English devoutly trying to make the 25,000 dollar piece of parchment not just a glorified ink blot. Currently it would serve better as a Rorschach test. Feel free to throw some ink his way at firstname.lastname@example.org.