March 6, 2009


"Who watches the Watchmen?" I just did!

I've just seen the film version of Watchmen, something I've been looking forward to for quite a while. The graphic novel Watchmen is amazing work of art and literature – Time Magazine lists it as one of the top 100 modern English novels.

If you can find a fault with the movie Watchmen, then you're really finding fault with the original graphic novel upon which it's based because the movie is a spot-on perfect 'representation' of the original work. The acting, the special effects, the settings, every nuance of the film is a repectful homage to the graphic novel. I had read that before Zach Snyder was signed to direct the film, the producers were looking at Darren Arranofsky as a potential director and that Arranofsky wanted to significantly update the settings and circumstances in which the film takes place—that would have been terrible! In my view, the most remarkable aspect of this film, is how accurately it recreates that alternate 1980s world where the main story in the graphic novel takes place.

(Okay beware, spoilers below) Certain elements were shortened (like the encounters between Rorschach and his court appointed therapist), left out (such as the fate of the original Night Owl), or changed (the encounter of Rorschach with the kidnapper which begins his career as a Crime Fighter, and of course the ending), but I can certainly see how these changes make sense for a film version. As for the ending, I actually liked it better than graphic novel's ending. One thing stuck me about the ending of the graphic novel was how bizarre it seemed, and the film version just makes more sense, and accomplishes the same.

This was the director Snyder's third major film. His first two were the remake of Dawn of the Dead, which was followed by 300 (also a graphic novel) – Both were excellent. Watchmen is brilliant. I see an obvious comparison between Watchmen the film and the Lord of the Rings films. Both are excellent representations of the original works upon which they are based. Both have some changes that are justified when you consider transferring their stories from the page to the screen. Both are based on works that represent the very best of their genres (LoTR of fantasy literature, Watchmen of graphic novels). There will probably be a lot of opinions about which aspects should have stayed the same or changed or been left in and so forth, but I think this film is extraordinary companion to the original graphic novel, which itself is an amazing work.



Recent Movies Watched...

A couple weeks ago I saw Slumdog Millionaire (IMDb), which just won best picture in the Academy Awards. I saw it before the awards show, but after all the hype had come out around the film. Although, it first caught my attention a while beforehand because I've been a fan of director Danny Boyle's previous films, including 28 Days Later, and Sunshine. Slumdog is a classic love story, and there are a couple really beautiful moments in the movie, such as when Jamal first invites Latika out of the rain, and of course the final moment the movie is leading up. But one of the things I found most interesting in the movie is the relationship between Jamal and his brother Saleem. They live by different sets of values. But the movie does not ultimately portray either character's values as right or wrong. Jamal can easily be appreciated for his uncompromising values but it is left undetermined weather Saleem's more violent path in life does or does not ultimately protect Jamal and make his dream a possibility.

Black Sheep (IMDb) is a dark comedy out of New Zealand. I've become a fan of New Zealand cultureespicially their dry and dark sense of humor, such as in Flight of the Conchords, and Eagle Vs. Shark. Even though this is more of a comedy, there is a lot of disgusting gore and excellent special effects from those responsible for the effects in Lord of the Rings. Black Sheep is a parody of the agricultural industry of sheep in New Zealand. It somehow portrays sheep, a very peaceful-seeming animal, in both a hilarious and menacing way.

Blood Car (IMDb) is a "very indy" horror comedy that is a social satire. The story follows a high school teacher living in a world where gas prices have risen to around $40 a gallon. He sets out to create a car engine that will run on wheat grass but when that fails he stumbles upon an alternative fuel – human blood. The political satire is quite obvious: Our society's dependence on a source of fuel is so painful, its at the point of drawing blood. His enthusiasm becomes and obsession for creating a cheap fuel leading him to turn his car into a blender on wheels. Blood Car screened at the Asheville Film Festival two years ago but at a time I where I was unable to see it, so I was pretty glad to have a chance to catch up on this indy film now that its on video.