I saw the midnight premier of Watchmen in IMAX last night. Let me tell you how it went.
The film starts off basically like the book with the Comedian’s murder (the first couple of minutes/pages does not count as a spoiler). The full fight is shown, and the blows sound like they carry a good bit of weight behind them. In fact, you can hear and see the power of the strikes quite well, which is good work on the sound guys as well as the stunt team for choreographers.
Going IMAX was totally worth it if for nothing else than seeing just how much detail went into set design. The backgrounds came right out of the comic with homes decorated with newspaper clippings and old hero photos and the buildings covered with ads and graffiti befitting the time period. There’s some points where it’s almost comically obvious it’s still 1985 (such as what’s basically a Apple II in Ozymandius’ office). There are points where the scenes cut back in time, and the sets follow suit and match.
The soundtrack is an incredibly random and almost hilarious at times choice of songs. I’m not a music buff by any means, quite the opposite in fact, and even I found it interesting. Ranging from folk rock to rock to gospel to classical to others, something will most likely stand out to you. Possibly too much, as some may find some song choices distracting from the scene at hand, possibly making light of it.
The casting seemed pretty well done. Sure, Dan (Nite Owl II) isn’t quite as chubby as he is in the comic, and we got to see a bit more of Dr. Manhattan than I would have liked, but everyone played their parts well. They seemed believable and fitting of their roles. Rorschach, being the narrator through his journal entries, was really good. He had that gravelly voice that I had envisioned. When the mask came off too, he wasn’t pretty or attractive. He was just as he should be.
Actually, one of the things I realized is Rorschach was in mask even more than he was in the comic. It’s a side effect of compressing the prison scenes and his back story (it’s all still basically there). Most super hero movies though, I complain that they try to have too much face time by having their heroes out of mask (I’m looking at you, Tobey Maguire). It doesn’t help or hurt. It’s just an interesting little note.
Going with a group comprised of people who have read the book (myself included) and people who haven’t, both sides seemed generally pleased. For the newbies, they were able to follow the story quite well and didn’t see everything coming. This eased my fear that the movie was telegraphing the ending too much, but it’s just that I’ve read it enough times to know. For the ones in the know, it stayed true enough to the story to satisfy, while presenting it in an entertaining movie form.
I suggest you go see this film if you’re a fan of Watchmen or of superheroes in general. If you don’t know what to expect, you’re in for a real treat to the inner workings as to how superheroes most likely would actually behave. If you’ve read the book, you should find this an enjoyable interpretation with some differences. If you’re a stickler for direct adaptations staying word for word to the book, there are some slight changes in store. For the most part, the differences seemed pretty natural in the film form. Minor things like combining certain scenes, less focus on really minor characters and slight scene rearrangement.
Really thought, the Watchmen story is there, and it’s enjoyable.