Friday, March 13, 2009

That 80's Movie: How Hollywood Ruined the Ending to Watchmen

I read Watchmen the other day, preparing to go into the film with the graphic novel fresh in my mind. I was pretty excited seeing how ridiculously awesome the trailers were and how great the book was--on Time's 100 Greatest Novels of the Twentieth Century--and I did think most of it was pretty great; however, the things that did not make it to the big screen from Alan Moore's book severely damaged my perception of the film.  

First off, the director did a grave disservice to Rorschach's character in three ways: (1) Rorschach was shown to have too much emotion when the mask was off while he was in prison getting interviewed or what have you by the prison shrink, this was one of the creepier parts of the book, how deadpan he was in the blot test; (2) Rorschach wasn't the dirty homeless bum he was supposed to be which was part of the anybody can become a super-hero type thing that is also part of the last thing; (3) Rorschach had borderline superhuman abilities when it came to speed and agility which he did not have in the book, all he had was his will, post-read I thought that if I walked out of the theater and I didn't think that I could walk out on the street and become Rorschach then the film did not do him justice.

And here are a few other problems I had with the movie, these being way more minor than the Rorschach bit and the stuff that would qualify as "spoilers," in case you care, which are: Night Owl looks just like Batman, or rather isn't so much of a sort of old broke down Batman (as I got the impression from the book he was supposed to be) and is a wienier version of the post Tim Burton Batman except a little more human (again which may have been sort of the point but its pretty safe to say that the studio wanted him to look as Batmanish as possible to bank off The Dark Knight's popularity), the first Night Owl's book--Behind the Mask (or something to that effect)--was left out entirely except for a quick reference at the beginning of the film; Silk Specter can't act; Dr. Manhattan 
has an 8-inch cock.
Those things out of the way, here is the MAJOR SPOILER WARNING for both the book and the film; so if you don't want to learn the endings of either version, then I guess you and I are done until my next post--which haven't been too frequent since my computer crashed.  Anyway, here goes: in the book, New York was destroyed by a giant squid genetically altered by Ozimandius to be huge, which everyone thinks is an alien, and that is what starts all the stuff that we see happen in both versions at the really real ending of the film.  (Well more like the second to last ending really since it suffers from Lord of Rings type excessive endings syndrome.)  This was the most 80's thing ever if you are old enough to remember Reagan's big space-based anti-missile Star Wars bullshit where lasers on satellites would blow up any nuclear threat from the USSR, which was horse shit, and then later his equally insane ramblings that he and Gorbachev had where he said "just think how easy his task and mine might be in these meetings that we held if suddenly there was a threat to this world from another planet.  [We'd] find out once and for all that we really are all human beings here on this earth together."  Yep, he was insane, but that also pretty much sums up why the ending to Watchmen worked and was awesome and why Alan Moore is a genius.  

The film's ending, however, dumbs the whole thing down.  In it, Ozymandius still fakes it, but instead of a giant squid that everyone thinks is an alien, he makes it look like Dr. Manhattan did it.  This makes it pretty unnecessary for Dr. Manhattan to lose his humanity so that does away with that whole aspect of the book, sort of, in explaining why he leaves earth, which makes things easier I guess.  But they also villanize Ozymandius since no one likes a faker.  Well more like the studio figured the movie needed someone to blame and wouldn't be able to wrap its head around the whole Ozymandius was doing this for the good of the world thing so they made him look like the Riddler or something.  Point being, this is a movie that would have made a lot more since to make in the 80's.  Today much of its relevance has passed and its too bad that there was the technology to create this film then.  But then again, maybe it should have just remained a book.  That would have been fine.

1 comment:

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