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Watchmen

Had a friend in town this weekend (hi, amjhawk!), so beyond gaming and chatting, we went to see the Watchmen movie.

I read the Watchmen book (winner of the 1988 Hugo Award in that year's special category) when it came out, back in the Late Pleistocene when I was in college. I am not ashamed to admit it was the first graphic novel I ever read, though I had read series comics as a kid (Weird Tales, Swamp Thing, random others), which I never liked as much as, say, science books. I got more satisfaction from learning about the life-cycle of a T-Rex or an O-type star than seeing Superman defeat yet another straw man. Then I discovered SF magazines in middle school and became was hooked on the power of the printed word over the rather weak material from comics. I even preferred them to most nonfiction. I mean, each month Isaac Asimov, himself, wrote me an editorial at the front of his magazine! Ben Bova and then Stan Schmidt wrote one, too, in Analog. As did Charles Ryan for Aboriginal Science Fiction and Ed Ferman for Fantasy & Science Fiction. So I was a literary snob, even as a kid.

Until a girlfriend handed me Watchmen. The art didn't get in my way; in fact, I rather enjoyed the added color and graphic interest. What blew me away was the writing and how Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons unified the written word and imagery into what felt to me a new form: This was a meta-work, something that would have been lessened if it were simply text - a first, as far as I can tell. This book was full of impossible yet completely real and sympathetic characters who were living out the themes of SF (and the noir mystery, among others) in one of the best stories yet written in the genre. And it was meta-meta-fiction, in that it not only represented important SFnal issues but also those of the comic genre. This is why I was so blown away by the book: I would have probably loved it almost as much if it had been just a short novel without graphics, but because the author and artist twisted iconic superhero-comic themes and asked hard questions of all its parent genres, this work rose above all others that came before. This does not lessen poor old slimy Swamp Thing, nor Batman, nor Superman, nor any of the other superheroes - nor the Golden-Age SF which provided the themes: Watchmen could not have existed without them.

It is thus an evolution and revolution all at once. And it was brilliant.

And the movie is, thankfully, brilliant. It adds another layer of meta (film), plus enriches the story with modern imagery and fine acting. The actors breathe new life into those barely human characters. I think my eyes were teary for 90% of the film.

In case you haven't seen it yet, I'm not sure if I recommend you read it first or watch the film first. But do at least one of those, and see the movie while it's on the big screen.

Best,
Chris

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
jimmy_hollaman
Mar. 9th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed the hell out of the movie, and do recommend people to see it. Hell i went to see it with 2 people that had seem it the day before and one of them also had seen it on friday. they enjoyed it that much. But as you said see it on the big screen. I liked being able to see the little things in the back ground. and the guy they got for Rorschach was excellent. i thought he was perfect. (and lets face it a lot of the people they got to play the characters was perfect....
mckitterick
Mar. 9th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know: The actor playing Rorschach transformed the character. Same for The Comedian. Heck, they were all excellent.
frugurl27
Mar. 9th, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)
Not only was it a great movie, but Jeffery Dean Morgan has stolen some of my celeb-crush points away from Robert Downey Jr.

I'm ready to see it again now.
mckitterick
Mar. 9th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
That would be The Comedian? Wow, this is an insight into your character....
frugurl27
Mar. 9th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
Hey now, appearance-wise, not character-actions-wise. :P
mckitterick
Mar. 9th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
PS: I'm planning on seeing it again this week. Then when it comes out, we'll have a showing of the (certain to-be) extended edition. (With extra Jeffery Dean Morgan.)
frugurl27
Mar. 9th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
Me too! And I am already excited for the extended edition (there are apparently a 3 and 3.5 hour cuts just waiting to be released)!
mckitterick
Mar. 9th, 2009 08:03 pm (UTC)
Whoah, seriously? I can't wait! But I guess we'll have to.
ryltar
Mar. 9th, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed the movie. While I had some issues with it (I think the director/producer was too in love with visuals at times... and I wanted the comic's original ending :P), I think it was great overall.
fireguarder
Mar. 10th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
Looking at all the comments from friends on various lists, it appears that for those who have read the graphic novel, the movie was very good to excellent, with some minor quibbles. For those who haven't read it, reaction largely ranges from "it was okay" to "meh". Bill has read it, I have not. He will probably be going to this movie on his own because we both suspect that I probably wouldn't get much out of it.
silverfae
Mar. 10th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)
Part of me wants to see it and like it and part of me knows that there is a graphically violent scene that will disturb me quite a bit. Probably the right time to make that bathroom run.
fireguarder
Mar. 10th, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)
The question is, do you know when that scene occurs? You need to time the bathroom break just right. ;-)

Edited at 2009-03-10 02:54 am (UTC)
silverfae
Mar. 10th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)

I'll see it coming in time to get out, from what I have learned about it.

I have the super-elastic bladder from hell. Comes from those years of driving a semi!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )