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Monday, April 6, 2009

How to Improve "Watchmen"

First, let it be said that I genuinely liked the movie. I'm not a rabid fangirl that howls for blood when something is changed in adaptation from page to screen -- in fact, I think the movie ending made far more sense than the book -- but I sincerely wanted it to eat The Dark Knight's lunch and instead all we got was an okay-to-good superhero movie with some political overtones.

But what's done is done, and we can't change things like getting a better actress to play Silk Spectre. However, I feel the movie can be improved by cutting out certain things. I may be late to this party, but I've given it some thought, and I think all of these could be easily done before the movie goes to DVD.

1) Reduce the length of the fight in the Comedian's apartment.
Ok, look, the comic book takes all of seven panels to kill the Comedian -- ten if you count watching him fall to his death. I realize that this the opening of the movie and you want to hook the audience, and I like a good fight sequence as much as anyone, but MY GOD it dragged on. After a while it just became senseless brutality in the name of "coolness".

Look at how the trailer below depicts the murder. That's actually about what the comic shows. Its run time is about 20 seconds. Now I recognize that's far too short for a key scene in the movie, but erring on the side of brevity is always good for a movie that 2.5 hours long.

2) Tone down/delete the "relevant" music
There was exactly ONE piece of music (set, as opposed to background) that I liked, and it was "All Along the Watchtower" because its tone and volume seemed to mesh perfectly with the scene. Everything else didn't:
  • "Sound of Silence" during the Comedian's funeral? Too damn loud, ironically enough, and it distracted from the solemnity of the scene. An instrumental piece would have worked much better here.
  • Likewise the "Ride of the Valkyries" bit. I'm sorry, I adore Wagner, but ever since Apocalypse Now that piece has become associated with Vietnam in an ironic, post-modern sense and it only undercuts the seriousness of the scene.
  • The obligatory "OMG WE'RE IN THE 80s LETS PLAY 80s MUSIC TO SHOW WE'RE IN THE 80s". OK, I will admit that "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was clever, even if horribly forced, but "99 Luftbaloons"? Really?
  • And then there's that rendition of "Hallelujah"... I guess I'll just declare myself a heretic now by saying I hate, Hate, HATE Leonard Cohen's version of it. Speaking of which...

3) For the love of God, cut the sex scene
I am not a prude. Anyone who has talked to me knows I like sex. I like looking at it, and I like talking about it. But this scene.... it goes on for too long and (worst) is not sexy. Malin Ackerman getting pistoned, whee. A porn actress would have actually worked better here, because they at least sound like they're getting off on the rote mechanics of the act. This sequence took five very
slender panels in the comic to depict, and the movie would do well to emulate that. And where the hell was Holiday's "You're My Thrill" in all of this?

4) Cut Nite-Owl's "NOOOOOOO!"
Because it wasn't cool when Vader did it, either. I'd prefer his presence in the doorway be completely excised, but if that's too hard to do, just removing the vocal track and having him slump silently to his knees will work.

5) This space intentionally left blank because I know I left something out. Also, Law of Fives.

There you go. Just some cutting, and you've raised "Watchmen" from a B-minus to a B-plus, at the very least.


  1. I agree except on the music bit, most of the music (including Ride of the Valkyries) was actually spoken of, quoted, or otherwise mentioned in the graphic novel, from what I've read. I'll have to re-read the GN since it's been literally years.

  2. Except!

    Except, Nathan, that RotV is used *completely out of context*. Within the book, it's mentioned by Hollis (Nite Owl 1) Mason as "the saddest song he's ever heard."

    Oh, and the music that SHOULD be playing during the sex scene aboard Archie? "You're my thrill," by Billie Holliday. You know, the song that's actually discussed by Owl and Spectre.

    Snyder is trying to damn hard to be musically relevant, and it shows.

  3. Actually, 99 Luftballons is quite appropriate... but only for those who are aware of what the lyrics to the song really are about (i.e., World War III and the devastation associated with it). Using the German version means that most of the audience just won't get it. There is however an English version, by the same group, and that should have been used instead.


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