Thirty Thousand Streets

Friday, March 20, 2009

That Watchmen review

Who Watches the Watchmen? well me, last Friday at the iMax, and I actually sat down and penned quite a long review about it too, before thinking, hmm, about eight squillion people have already chucked their two penneth in the jar, so you can probably google "Watchmen review" and get an idea whether you think it's going to suck or not without recourse to my ramblings. Here's an extract from my epic:

"It's been said quite often that a serialised TV show would be a far better format for translation of this project, and I have to agree. Watchmen was, as a comic and latterly a graphic novel, intrinsically episodic, and its frequent forays into the medium of other media (e.g. Newspaper clippings and magazine articles) from the alternate late 20th century Moore dreams up for us, are intrinsically problematic to channel onto a cinema screen."

Eh, I do get carried away sometimes (I start going on about Marshall Mcluhan, too). I think that's enough for now. To paraphrase my weighty, considered review:

"Watchmen: It's not as bad as it could have been"

In fact, it's not bad at all. No, it's not the novel, never could be, never was going to be, so get over it. It's pretty (if that's the word) and if you liked Dave Gibbons' artwork, you'll probably just be mesmerised by seeing that translated into moving images for two-and-a-half hours. That's me as a fan speaking though. Lord alone knows what people who hadn't read the comic thought – they were probably utterly bemused by it all.

What I would say is, if you haven't already (and can be bothered) read the book first. It's very good, and doesn't even really bear comparison to the film in terms of its breadth.

Now, for a bit of fun, here's Watchmen author and all-round arch beard Alan Moore commenting on and reading from the book (if you stick around to the end). He fucking hated the film on principle. Fair enough. I like his assertion that Batman, as a archetype is essentially a vigilante psychopath.

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What tickled me more was the similarity between Moore (no pun) and Garth Marenghi in Channel Four's wonderful Horror spoof Darkplayce. It made me chuckle, anyway.


Zeno Cosini said...

I really liked the film. I never quite got into the novel. I don't know why. I think it's something to do with the episodic structure like you say. And it's probably sacrilege, but I've got to confess I don't love Alan Moore's writing style in the text-only sections. The artwork is amazing.

I liked the way Billy Crudup's voice became gradually empty of all inflection as the film wore on and he became less and less concerned with human affairs.

The Eyechild said...

Reading back, my summary might seem like damning faint praise, when yeah, I did enjoy it actually (which surprised me. I was prepared to be hugely disappointed).

It's more about spectacle than the book, naturally, which it does very well. I certainly think it's not the insult to the franchise it might have been. It's no Phantom Menace.

I suppose what I liked about the comics, was that they were quite intricate, and the 'stories within stories' (which I'm a sucker for anyway) were a gloriously atmospheric exposition of that universe; a fair portion of which inevitably, gets ironed out in the film – the DVD might have more, I suppose.

I'd be interested to hear the opinion of someone who hadn't read that when they saw it, though.

R. W. Watkins said...


I'm starting a low-budget site dedicated to essays and reviews revolving around comics. Would you be interested in letting me use your full-length review of The Watchmen film? I need something unpublished or relatively unseen by someone who knows the score, and your piece sounds like a logical candidate. You see, I haven't watched the picture yet, and I'm only now about halfway through the graphic novel/collection after owning a copy for years. Interested?

I wish you had left an e-mail address on your profile page. It appears you don't check in with this blog on an overly regular basis....


Rob Watkins

The Eyechild said...

Hi RW.

Er, yes, I would (I dunno if it's too late for it). I have updated this blog so it should send me emails when someone comments, but it doesn't seem to have bothered here.

I jut checked your profile and couldn't see an email, but my address is bevantom (at) googelemail dot com, should you wish to get in touch.


R. W. Watkins said...

Great! That's welcomed news, given some of the slackers I've had to deal with since I started putting this project together. You know the type--plenty of raw talent, but sorely lacking in initiative. I'm not sure what the situation is in England and the rest of the UK these days, but here in Canada and the States it's difficult to find anyone 40 or under who's any different these days.

Anyway, Feel free to send a copy of your review to me at