I know it’s atypical for a 5’10” fashion modeling, pedicure-loving, high heel wearing, generally well adjusted girl in her twenties, but I’ve always considered myself a nerd — I grew up on Star Trek and snap circuit kits, math was my favorite class, I still read comic books, and I love a good Boggle tournament. Yesterday, though, my lack of nerd cred became painfully apparent as I experienced my first ever Wondercon (I think I’m out of the club already for wearing deodorant on a regular basis. My reluctance to dress like an animal is a totally different issue altogether).
Although my dreams of becoming nerd queen were quickly dashed by a torrent of scantily clad girls with large weapons (probably the highest paid booth babes outside of AVN), the day was not a complete loss — At least there was the Watchmen panel…where they showed the first 22 minutes of the film followed by a panel discussion with director, Zack Snyder, artist, Dave Gibbons, and pretty much every important cast member.
If you are a movie purist who prefers to remain ignorant, do not read on. In fact, you may want to forgo seeing Watchmen all together, considering the ending has been changed from the original graphic novel, an issue that surely has many a nerd purist foaming at the mouth.
Billy Crudup, Malin Akerman, Zack Snyder, and Geoff Boucher. Photo credit: Daryn LaBier
During the panel, which was moderated by entertainment writer, Geoff Boucher, Snyder addressed questions of running time and edits, explicitly outlining future plans for dvd releases, special features, and theatrical releases of director’s cuts.
Of the film’s 160 minute running time, Snyder said, “In a hard economy, we decided to include more movie. At no extra cost, you get 40 extra minutes!” There were still a good amount of scenes cut from the final film, though, “The plan is to do a short theatrical release in July of the director’s cut, which is a three hour and ten minute experience.” What should viewers expect of that release? “A lot more, sort of, naked blueness.”
And what of the Black Freighter? A 20 minute animated version will be released on dvd along with a mockumentary. In the fall, the complete director’s cut dvd will be released with footage from the Black Freighter interspliced as originally laid out in the novel. This complete unedited 210 minute version is sure to be the pinacle of Watchmen fanboy-dom.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jackie Earle Haley, Crudup, Akerman, and Snyder. Photo credit: Daryn LaBier
And what of the rampant rumors circling regarding a sequel? Ever the true Watchmen fan, “It seems impossible to talk about,” said Snyder. Personally, though, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility. Especially since when Warner Bros. first approached Snydeer about directing Watchmen, it was apparently a two hour, PG-13 movie that ended happily with Nightowl killing Ozymandias and averting mass disaster. Obviously, all things are possible in time…
Watchmen artist, Dave Gibbons seems satisfied, though: “This is like the movie I saw in my head, and these [actors] are like the people I saw in my dreams.”
Snyder and Boucher. Photo credit: Daryn LaBier
And now for the real spoilers: The first 22 minutes of the highly anticipated film as viewed by yours truly.
The film opens on the Commedian (Edward Blake) at home, watching the news while having a scotch and a cigar, like the badass he is (in true BA style, there is also a shot of a Hustler magazine hanging out on his coffee table). Dr. Manhattan is introduced at this point, through Blake’s television, as the United States’ secret weapon against Russian nuclear attack. The fight scene that ensues is carefully choreographed and incredibly well executed. I realize the overuse of the simile I’m about to use, but the combination of slow-motion blows over a background of classical music creates a ballet-like feeling, ending in Blake’s being hurled through a plate glass window to the street below by his mystery assailant.
The following opening sequence, aptly timed to Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’, actually manages to fill in non-Watchmen readers on the 40-odd-year gap in history without annoying those of us who actually read the book. Up until this point, the film maintains a dreamlike quality, amplified by the use of nostalgic visuals. Rorschach’s presence after the opening sequence acts as a catalyst that propels the feeling of urgency the film takes on (he is also aparently a crowd favorite, judging by the bursts of applause following his appearances).
After finding the Comedian murdered, Rorschach breaks into Nightowl (Dan Dreiberg’s) house while he is out visiting (the original Nightowl) Hollis Mason. Dreiberg comes home to find Rorschach in his kitchen eating his canned beans (See guys? We’re totally sticking to the original novel, word for word!). Rorschech then warns Dreiberg of his theory that someone is “picking off masks”, refering to the blood on the Comedian’s smiley face pin as “human bean juice”.
The film then cuts to Rorschach as Walter Kovaks, in prison, where the infamous hot-grease incident takes place. It’s quite a violent movie, especially considering the final cut was already made less violent at Warner Bros. request. Little else should be expected, though, from the director who encourages young aspiring filmmakers not to back down, but to, “make it the way you want to make it.”
Overall, the film is full of stark contrasts, is visually arresting, and all sorts of other buzzword-y shit like that. I, of course, have been waiting to see it for almost a year now, but I think fanboys and newcomers alike will find something to enjoy in the visual presentation, even if they’ll never agree on the semantics of plot.
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