Thursday, March 12, 2009

Another Nerd Goes On About Watchmen

So now most of us nerds have had the chance to see and digest the Watchmen movie. And, if the rumors about the film's word-of-mouth are true, not many more people will be off to see it in the upcoming weeks. So I think it's safe to give a spoiler-free opinion, because I can really sympathize with what the filmmakers were trying to do.

First, geek-cred. The Watchmen comic is part of my DNA. I had a brain tumor removed when I was 19. To help the hospital time pass, a friend loaned me two graphic novels. The Cowboy Wally Show by Kyle Baker (a classic in its own right) and Watchmen by Alan Moore. They were the first of many, many comics I read as a sort of grown-up. Let's just say I have an emotional attachment.

And I really, really enjoyed the movie. As many little nitpicks and disappointments as I had, it was still fifty times better than I had any right to expect the movie to turn out. The director, Zack Snyder, really wanted to be faithful to the work.

And, if it turns out to be a flop in the long run, that is why.

Watchmen is insanely dense and complicated. It takes several readings to really grasp everything that's going on. To be in any way faithful to the work, you have to make something far more complex and challenging than what I think most people expect. Or want. Instead of making a more profitable movie, they tried to keep me happy. For what it's worth, I appreciate it. And I can really sympathize.

When I write a game, I am always imagining two voices in my head, shouting at me. On one side is the gamer. The RPG lover. The sort of person I am. On the other side is the normal person. The casual gamer. The person who isn't hugely familiar with gaming but is giving me a shot. I want to please both. I want to make everyone happy. But frequently it's a zero-sum game. The pleasure for one sometimes comes at the expense of the other. What can I give to each side to make them want to play?

So, movie review. Watchmen. Worth seeing. One and a half thumbs up. If you haven't read the book, approach it like a really good noir mystery. It'll be a little confusing the first time through, but it does all make sense.

And read the book. It's not just nerd-good. It's good-good.

Oh, and no. I didn't miss the squid. Fans of the comic know what I'm talking about.


  1. I agree completely. I was very happy with it, despite all the nay-sayers (it seems as pretty much everyone on the IMDB discussion forums despises the movie) ranting against it.
    The only thing that bothered my about it was the casting of Adrian Veidt, he wasn't the Square-Jawed Knight in Shining Armor he was portrayed as in the comic book. I did, however, like how he ditched his american accent in the final confrontation.

    Nice blog, by the way! I've enjoyed reading your posts so far, keep up the good work : ]

  2. Well, maybe not really "only thing". "Main thing." would be more accurate.

  3. I really like The Cowboy Wally Show, but not nearly as much as I liked Why I Hate Saturn (also by Kyle Baker).

    Like you I was quite pleased with the movie. I figure anytime you take a book and make it into a movie, you pretty much have to take some major plot threads and just drop them on the floor. Given that reality, I don't have any complaints about the choices made to bring Watchmen to the screen - and I'm really pleased at how good a job they did staying faithful to the original.

    I mean - they got Rorschach right!

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