Review, Watchmen

This past weekend, Yufang, Seth, Kolter, Masaya, Brandon, and I went to see Watchmen at the Independence Regal South of Akron.  Having read the original comic, I enjoyed seeing a live action rendition of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel on the silver screen.  I believe that Zack Snyder produced the best possible filmic interpretation of the source material short of the original media and barring a big-budget mini-series.  As in other cases (e.g., The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Right Stuff, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and We Will Remember It For You Wholesale, etc.), I enjoy the experience of seeing someone (or a committee of someones) else’s imaginative vision and interpretation of a story (from whatever media–text, music, art, video games, etc.).  I have my own interpretations from my first, second, and subsequent visitations to a story, as do others who also enjoy those cultural artifacts.  I find it enriching for my own imagination to experience, however tangentially it may be, the imagination of another person.  Snyder definitely has a vision or project that he brings to his films–an almost splatter-gore sensibility tempered with an American erotic titillation–that will color or taint (depending on your point of view) any project that he directs.  I knew this going into Watchmen, and I wasn’t disappointed.  If you dare to experience the mind’s eye of a director capable of loyalty to his source while asserting his own artistic manifesto, then I suggest you see Watchmen in the theater and don’t forget to read the comic series while you’re at it.

I have heard from a number of friends that have taken issue with the film’s dedication to its source, the graphic depiction of violence, the casting, the soundtrack, etc., ad nauseum.  I had almost lost all hope until I saw that Patrick Sharp gave props to the film and Haley’s performance as Rorschach on Facebook.  And today, I ran across Patton Oswalt’s shining emblem of Nerdlore head-smackery in his discussion of Watchmen and film interpretations:

Because Zack Snyder STEPPED UP, motherfuckers. THE WATCHMEN was going to get made, one way or another. And instead of bleating on his Facebook status updates or Tweeting about how shitty the upcoming adaptation’s going to be, he TOOK THE BULLET and tried to do it right. . . . Zack delivered a 2 1/2 hour, honest attempt, and broke his ass cranking out tons of free extras. . . . Plus, he gave you a kick-ass DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, plus 300, plus whatever else he’s got coming down the pike. He’s the best friend the Nerd Mafia’s had since Joss Whedon and Brian Michael Bendis, so everyone please crack the tab on a frosty can of Go Fuck Yourself and go see the movie version of THE WATCHMEN.

You should read the rest of Oswalt’s hilarious and on-target post on his MySpace page here.

In a side note:  I’m currently having my students experience interpretative tension between Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, and Philip Kaufman’s film of the same name.  In these two works, there seems to be more a conversation taking place between them instead of a directly derivative function of the latter.  My students in both classes today came up with some great ideas for their essays on this subject, and I’m eager to hear what more they have to say about interpretations in class on Friday.

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Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.