Saturday, July 19, 2008

Well, There Goes My Big Plan to Invite Alan Moore to See the "Watchmen" Move with Me!

Alan Moore is not a fan of either the book 300 or its film adaptation so he's none too pleased with Zack Snyder's handling of Watchmen. Or, more accurately, that it's being filmed at all, I guess. In that article, he also has a few choice words about DC Comics:

"I don't want anyone who works for DC comic books to contact me ever again, or I'll change my number."

Not a fan, huh? Not fond of those people, huh?

Unlike Alan Moore (and despite myself), I mildly enjoyed the atavistic violence contained in the comic book 300. Well, for the one issue I read before the brainlessness of it all tossed me out of the story. It's one of those works where you deplore the contents but feel exhilarated by certain elements of the execution.

Not the dumbed-down writing. And not the drawings themselves, because Frank Miller's art has become so ugly over the years it's like violence against the eye. Still, he can compose a panel and pace the action on a page like few others. A Miller comic usually reads like you're watching a movie. Although for my comic buying-money no one tops Kojima Goseki, from whom I believe Miller liberally swiped to learn these chops.

However, it turns out Mr. Moore and I are of one mind when it comes to the movie. Despite my mingled horror and amusement at its loud-ass spectacle and a growing desire to turn the channel to anything (even an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger), I managed to watch the entire thing. Cinematically dumb, homophobicariffically dumb and racistastically dumb. If there's a brain located anywhere within 1000 miles of that movie's production, we've been unable to detect it despite employing some of the most sensitive devices yet invented by science.

But Watchmen? I've had hopes that Snyder's slavishly faithful approach taken with superior source material might produce a superior film. But it cuts both ways, doesn't it? If the thunderous flaws of 300 were mostly Miller's, then we're in the clear. If not...

On one hand, the trailer often looks like the comic come to life. Jackie Earle Haley is an inspired choice for Rorschach. Dr. Manhattan looks like Dave Gibbons (who's a fave of mine, by the way) drew him into the movie somehow.

But on the other, now that I've seen footage and can gauge a little better some of the Snyderian aesthetics at work in Watchmen, there are a couple of nagging things that trouble me.

"Like what?" you eagerly ask.

Well, the music choice for the trailer is the same sort of heavy handed goth-metal/industrial emo oafishness that maybe appeals to the demographic 300 was aimed at.

What's the opposite of promising?

You know what would've been really inspiring? A trailer featuring snippets of the film's Vietnam imagery set to Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son." That song features a lot of the angry atmospherics of patriotism curdled, civic virtues betrayed and growing cynicism in the face of a hypocritical nation Moore reveals in the comic and its dystopia-disguised-as-a-utopia setting. Two minutes of blistering, angry rock and sci-fi elements intruding on a seemingly real world setting.

You know- you lull the audience into thinking they're seeing Brian De Palma's Casualties of War Redux or a prequel to Coming Home and suddenly a giant naked blue guy steps over the trees and disintegrates the Viet Cong with his mental powers.

But no one ever listens to my bright ideas.

Also, given the stoopid excesses of 300, I'm a little afraid that some of Moore's grace notes- such as Dr. Manhattan's melancholy sojourn on Mars where he creates a delicate crystalline construct reminiscent of a watch's inner workings, a moment where the character's mental state is as fragile as this thing he's willed into being- will come across as brutally plodding, leaden set pieces.

Jeez, I hope not. I tend to go with my optimistic mode. I just know my respect for Alan Moore as an artist is much higher than any similar feelings for either Frank Miller or Zack Snyder so far. Actually, I don't have similar feelings for them at all. I like Moore's work. Still, Snyder wants this to be the Moore adaptation Moore will embrace, or at least not badmouth so much. And personal quirky qualms aside, I'm still planning on seeing it at the theater.

Sigh... It's just... I guess I'll have to go alone...

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