Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Who Watches The Watchmen?

Well, I do... or did. Snuck out from a busy workday and caught a screening of Watchmen, the adaptation of A*** M**** and Dave Gibbons' graphic novel. I'm not trying to be cute with Alan Moore's name (well, I guess I am), but he's so utterly opposed to film versions of his work that he had his name removed from the movie's credits. Part of me admires the fact that he puts his money where his mouth is and not only eschews credit on the movie, but refuses and/or gives his share of the proceeds to his collaborators. The more pragmatic part of me notes that you could turn Watchmen into a Saturday morning cartoon (already done, go to http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/485797 and click on "watch the cartoon"!) and the original graphic novel would still exist in all its glory.

But that's someone else's problem! Me, I loved the graphic novel... bought it in chapters when it was first released and probably five different editions since, from the swanky Graffiti box set to the recent Absolute Watchmen. I had drifted away from comics after college, but like countless other fans the Watchmen and Dark Knight books were a one/two punch that suggested there was life left in the mainstream superhero genre...

And the movie version? Well, I more or less loved it. I'm not going to re-read the book to refresh my memory, but it certainly feels like a faithful adaptation. I could quibble around the edges (oh, okay, I didn't really care for the music choices, and hey, Watchtower again?!) but given how far off the rails this could have gone, it's an amazing achievement. I especially like that it doesn't go all PG-13 on us and delivers all of the original stories adult conceits, from Doc. Manhattan's blue johnson to the uncompromising conclusion (albeit that's changed from the original).

(Self deprecating admission -- I was briefly up for adapting Moore's V For Vendetta. Which I actually think is a better book than Watchmen, though both are excellent. The direction being discussed at that time was, in hindsight, so unfortunate that I suspect I would have had Mr. Moore's suicide on my hands had it gone forward. But it didn't. And oddly enough, I still haven't seen the movie that was eventually made from the book!)

Final Watchmen note: there's a Battlestar connection! Don Thompson, aka Figurski, is seen right at the top of the movie as a police officer investigating a murder scene. And I knew him when... *sniff*...