Monday, March 9, 2009

You can't call yo' self no playa unless you rollin' wit a Bubastis in yo' crib, son

Jesus Christ, please help me. I'm not sure if you even exist, but I certainly don't deny the possibility, so maybe you can help a brotha out. I've just been so mad today, and the rage continues to ebb and flow, and shows no signs of going away. It's hard to even sit down long enough to write a review. I just want to punch certain motherfuckers in the face and it's fucking scaring the shit out of me how I'm feeling. Please help me. Please. You or your father. If the both of you can double-team against my anger, that would be super awesome. But I understand if you're busy with all those people praying for your help in certain areas, like certain occupied areas of the Middle East. Or people on the verge of becoming newly homeless and watching their lives turn from a pursuit of happiness to The Pursuit of Happyness. I know. But then again, those people still wind up coming home in pieces or begging for change in the streets, so maybe you guys are just assholes. Everyone's an asshole -- including me. Fuck.

So yeah, Watchmen. I didn't expect to see it so soon, especially on opening weekend, but I got a call from a friend and next thing you know, I'm watching it at the IMAX with him and his wife. There was over an hour delay before the movie finally came on at about 11:25 in the evening, but the staff had kept us occupied with trivia contests for posters and movie tickets. Plus it allowed all the anonymous cowards in the audience to yell out "jokes" for the entertainment-starved audience to laugh at desperately. "Just pooosh play!" yelled the shaven-head person of raza. About eight times he made that "joke". We got to make temporary friends with the people sitting around us, though. That was nice and unexpected.

The flick takes place in an alternate 1985 New York, where term limits have been removed and Nixon is still the prez, since that Watergate shit either never happened or he got away with it. In this alternate world, costumed crimefighters existed since the 40's, but eventually Tricky Dick passed a law that made it illegal to run around the streets like Batman and busting crime. We start the flick with the second generation of masked vigilantes, now a few years into their forced retirement -- with the exception of one, a dude in an inkblotted mask named Rorshach. He still goes around putting the big hurt on law-breakers and he's currently investigating the recent murder of a former "minuteman" who called himself The Comedian. This dude was part of the first generation of vigilantes, and while chilling out in his penthouse, some motherfucker Chris Brown'd his ass then threw him out the window.

Rorshach thinks this might be the beginning of an attack on all former crimefighters -- there's Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II, second generation updates on previous avengers; Ozymandias, the world's smartest man and one of the world's richest entrepreneurs; and Doctor Manhattan, a blue-skinned being who likes to live every day like he's Matthew McConaughey in bongo-playing mode. In other words, he's naked most of the time. Apparently, if you show a chick's face in close-up while she's having an orgasm in your flick, you get an NC-17, but you can show a blue dude's wiener as often as you like and still get your R-rating.

Out of all of them, Doc Manhattan probably doesn't have to worry about getting attacked, since he's the only "superhero" with actual superpowers. Besides, he's got enough to worry about at the moment. You see, the United States and the Soviet Union have been butting heads and the possibility of nuclear fuckin' war is becoming more and more real and immediate. Manhattan has the power to explode a motherfucker and he can take things apart and change their molecules into something different and all that other superpower shit, but there's just way too many nuclear missiles out there for him to deflect and even if he stops 99% percent of them from detonating, the remaining 1% will still end the world. It's like Lucy trying to pack all those chocolates from the speedy conveyor belt, if the chocolates were thermonuclear missiles and the conveyor belt was Russia. Huh? Whatever, I'm not erasing that shit.

You probably already know all this shit, because you've either read everything about it on the internet or you've read the comic book it's based on. So I'll just get into what I thought of it. It's good, the end.

Okay, I'll get a bit more detailed. I've read the comic book and I liked it very much, but I'm sorry to admit that I didn't jizz all over myself in ecstasy after reading it, like all the other fanboys. I did not come out worshipping the comic book as some sacred tome, nor did I find it to be the greatest thing since sliced bread or it's sequel, sliced sourdough bread. Hence, I did not lose my shit and curse Hollywood when I heard that they were making this into a movie. I just hoped for the best, because paying $5-10 to spend 2-3 hours on a shitty movie can ruin a motherfucker's day, but that's about it. So now after finally seeing it, I can say that I like it almost as much as the book. Like the source material, Watchmen is an involving story, containing interesting characters and the occasional cool action moment. Of course, the theatrical cut is missing quite a bit of extra goodness, but that's what special edition DVD and Bluray's are for. The movie looks great; the production design, the special effects, they're all nice to look at, especially on the huge IMAX screen. I bet you thought the blue dong was nice to look at in IMAX too, right? Fuckin' homo. Calm down, you.

It's over two-and-a-half hours long, and it moves well. But I was already familiar with the comic book, so maybe that helped me out since I pretty much knew the story structure and where it was going. I don't know if the length might be more of an issue to someone who's coming into Watchmen completely cold. It's about as long as The Dark Knight, (although technically it might be longer because the credits for this flick are only about three minutes or so, only long enough for one song, a cover of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" by My Chemical Romance) but DK has a lot more action in it.

There's a lot of motherfuckers out there that seem to have problems with some particular liberties taken in the flick, like some of the extra violence and action added in. One bit that I've heard a lot of bitching about is a long Oldboy-style fight scene late in the film which wasn't in the comic at all, that seemed to rile them up. I just want to grab these stinky fatter-than-me douchebags by their Star Wars t-shirt and tell them to chill the fuck out. The comic book didn't have that much action in it, because it really wasn't about POW! or WHAM! or CRASH!, it was a dark mystery filled with many many detailed events and characters. But I understand that might not be enough for Joe Moviegoer. He or she might want a little extra ass-kicking here and there. A good example of this is another fight scene that I remember as a brief scuffle in the comic, but in the movie comes off as some hardcore Steven Seagal shit, complete with broken bones jutting out of arms and knives in motherfuckers' throats. But I'm digressing, back to the Oldboy-style fight.

After the fight scene, the characters still do what they did in the comics, they just extended the moment, so to speak. They didn't take away here, they only added. The end result is the same. Plus -- holy shit -- didn't you guys notice that this was a fight scene where you could actually tell what was going on? I mean, you can actually make out the choreography involved in it, and nowadays that's worthy of being considered a cinematic miracle. It wasn't just flashes of an arm here and a foot there. The slow-mo/sped-up combo shit it was shot in might be grating to some, but it honestly didn't bother me. I'll take a well-choreographed, well-shot, and well-edited fight scene done with slow-mo/speeded-up vision over CUTCUTCUTCUTEXTREMECLOSEUPEXTREMECLOSEUPCUTCUTCUTCUT in regular speed any day of the fuckin' week.

The only thing that I would really bitch about is the music. Nothing wrong with the songs themselves, but it's shit you've heard in twenty other movies. The best thing a movie can do when it comes to music is make me want to buy (or illegally download) the soundtrack. When Scorsese or Wes Anderson -- to name a couple -- come out with a flick, that shit happens. I hear some shit I never heard before and now I have to hear it again and again. In Watchmen, I don't ever wanna hear any of this shit again. But here's the quandary; they really work with the scenes they're featured in. The opening credits montage with Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are-A Changin'" is a beautiful example of image and music working perfectly together, and later on, watching two characters finally get around to fucking while Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" plays on the soundtrack is a fucking brilliant bit as well. But goddamn, I've heard that song and its many covers EVERYWHERE. It's in motherfuckin' Shrek, for Christ's sake.

Late in the film "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix comes on and ugggghhh I've heard that shit in every fucking movie, it seems -- yet I can see why it was picked, because the lyrics to the Hendrix song (among other songs) are featured in the comic itself. The filmmakers were just being true to the source material, but the problem I guess is that the comic made that song choice about twenty years ago, when "Watchtower" was merely played out and not beaten to the fuckin' ground, stepped on, sat upon and finally pissed all over, like it is now. But then when the director decides to get another band to do a cover of a song to at least bring something new and different to something we've heard many times before, he gets shat upon, like all the shit I'm hearing the fanboys give about My Chemical Romance doing a Bob Dylan song. Motherfuckers, it could be worse, he could've gotten fuckin' T-Pain with his AutoTune to do that shit. Think about it. Anyway, it's a fucked up predicament, some "damned if you do, damned if you don't" kinda shit, and I don't envy the moviemakers at all when it comes to those kind of choices.

Listen man, this shit is two-and-a-half hours long and they tried to put all the shit they could fit into it. What didn't make it will make it in the director's cut. You can even get a DVD with an animated version of "Tales from the Black Freighter", a comic book within the Watchmen comic book that had to be cut from the theatrical version (and which will be reinstated into the director's cut, as it should) right now if you want. I think it's pretty fuckin' faithful, and it was definitely done by someone who loves the material. Sure, there's a couple of moments I wish weren't changed, like a certain line at the end that should've been said by someone else instead of who ends up saying it in the movie, and the flick has a lot more gory violence than the comic (curiously the most gory moment in the comic -- a crucial use of gore, I think -- was cleaned up in the film, WTF?) but I'll go as far as to say that any plot/story problems with this movie stem from the source material.

There's also quite a bit of the "everyday human" element missing from the film. The book really showed you how the events were affecting regular people on the street, but again, you just can't fit all that shit in a two-and-a-half hour running time, and remember there's a director's cut coming anyway. I just don't want to hear anymore shit about how they changed a certain particular part of the climax, because I think how they handled it in the movie was a major improvement over the comic. It may have worked on the page, but you had to change it for the flick, you had to. I can't get into specifics, but those who know, you know what I'm talking about. Tell me, you think that shit would've played on the screen? Shit, motherfuckers were already laughing at the sex scene in the theater I was in, I could only imagine how they'd react to the original plan in the comic.

My friends and I liked it. They never read the comic book, but their stand-alone experience was still a positive one. Of the recent slate of comic book adaptations on the big screen of the past year, I think The Dark Knight is the better film and Iron Man was more fun, but Watchmen is still an overall solid flick. If I was to grade this shit, and I guess I am, I'd give the comic 3 1/2 stars and the movie 3 stars. That's good, man. But I guess to the fanboys, three stars is shit when you're adapting the Bible. It's either the greatest thing ever or the biggest piece of shit in the world with some of these people. Fuck 'em.

Last but not least, the dude who plays Rorshach is fuckin' ace. Jackie Earle Haley plays him, and it's good to see homeboy kicking ass both literally and figuratively. The motherfucker came out of obscurity a couple of years ago and came back hard, getting an Oscar nomination for his role in Little Children, a flick in which he co-starred with his fellow Watchmen crimefighter, Patrick Wilson. Here's a link to an EW article about the dude, back when he was promoting that flick. It's a good read, and besides, I wanted to end this blog on a positive note, since I started it so angry. I'm still angry, but you know...

Also I want to apologize to any Star Wars t-shirt wearing motherfuckers out there for some earlier comments I made. You're not all bad, in fact, some of you are actually more than all right with me.