Saturday, March 07, 2009


I don't know that I'd recommend it for those who haven't read the book, or for a younger crowd. I mean, an eternal Nixon presidency is to me just barely at the edge of being something fearful, at my age - I can't imagine anyone younger would really see that as a big, scary problem. The really young wouldn't understand nuclear armageddon: they'd understand the fear of there being a big hole in the middle of NYC (a graphic visual late in the film), but why that might, in anyone's mind, be preferable to possible war with the Soviets - a country that doesn't really exist in their minds and hasn't for decades - that would escape them.

Now, to take the story to the personal level and out of the political (and it was amazing to me how many levels it worked on), that might still work for anyone, because of how powerfully and viscerally it's portrayed here. For a cast of people in really goofy outfits, they come across as believable and poignant - that might be the big score triumph here. Rorschach stands out - the sociopath whose only real value now is his quest for truth, uncompomising to the end. Nite Owl makes you feel sorry for him, as the most normal of the bunch, who's constantly surrounded by psychos and trying to bring some semblance of restraint and sanity to the project. Dr. Manhattan? I can't get into characters with that level of superpower (infinite) and therefore no motives or psychology to them. The brief epiphany he comes to doesn't accomplish much of anything, except to reaffirm what's already happened (as in the earlier scene when he scolds The Comedian for murdering, but doesn't do anything about it).

So what it comes down to, "message" wise, is - Is a bland utopia based on a lie and the deaths of millions, worth it? (And I do mean bland - the prospect of Nite Owl and Silk Spectre settling down to normalcy with comical drunken mother-in-law in tow strikes me as deliberately absurd.) To Dr. Manhattan's questions about what is the value of life, I could imagine more compelling and interesting answers.

As a reader of the book, I was struck by how visual an impression it left on me (I read it when it first came out and not since) - I remembered the thing with Rorschach and the dogs, and the fight in the prison, but didn't remember a lot of big plot details. I think that will always be the Achilles heel of comic books - the visual still dominates.

Fight choreography - A++ (though there isn't much)
Sex scene - OMG. Funniest you've ever seen. Felt sorry for the people involved.

All in all, a very powerful movie going experience. I don't think it's a profound book, but it is a powerful and stunning one, and this has rendered it faithfully (I know, minus squid) and compellingly.


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