Watchmen

We hit the milestone at work on Friday! Woohoo! The game looks AMAZING. It’s still early days but at this stage I think it’s probably the best game I’ve worked on. We just need to keep the intensity up and deliver the rest of the content but I’m really, really optimistic. Can’t wait until it’s announced, not too much longer now I hope.

Another milestone occurred last night – I saw Watchmen.

Watchmen

I first read Watchmen when it was published as a graphic novel (as opposed to the single issues it was originally published in over a couple of years). So probably 1988 or 1989. I’ve re-read it every year or two since, and without fail, every time I read it I find something new. It’s one of the most rewarding pieces of fiction I’ve read. What really sets it apart from lesser works for me is the incredible amount of background detail, the asides and sub-plots, the color and texture that transform the main plot (which is already complex by itself) into something truly multi-dimensional.

So I suppose you could say I’m a fan :) However I’m not one of those people who demand that an adaptation absolutely must follow the original work exactly. In fact, in the case of Watchmen, it would be impossible. The original comics play with things like the panel layouts to achieve certain effects, which just can’t map to a different medium. So I absolutely expect and even welcome changes for a movie adaptation; in fact, the most important thing is that it works AS A MOVIE, as long as certain basics are kept intact.

So for me, the movie both succeeds and fails. It succeeds in that it tells the story of the main plot, in a mostly coherent and stylish manner. It fails in that occasionally, style gets in the way (such as the love scene in the Owlship), and most importantly, almost all of the details, the little story touches that really anchor the world in the comic have been stripped away. I don’t mean visually; the sets are beautiful, and have lots of little details that I’m sure will make it fun to pause the eventual blu-ray version and try and find them all. But things like the the story of the criminal psychologist who treats Kovacs and the heartbreaking effect it has on his life and his marriage; the subtleties of Jon Osterman’s life story; the effects that Dr Manhattan has had on culture and technology and so on are just GONE and the work is poorer for the lack of them.

But that’s the central problem. The film is 2 hours 45 minutes long WITHOUT all of those things in it, and the dozens I didn’t mention. If anything, in a perfect world we’d have had an HBO miniseries instead of a movie. But we’re not lucky enough to live in that world, and there are certain commercial realities in this one (ie. you can’t make a 5 hour movie because nobody would sit through it, and I doubt the property is seen as important enough to split it into multiple movies like LOTR). Given that, I think Snyder has made pretty much the best possible version of Watchmen that we could expect; I just don’t know that it’s enough for me.

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