Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Time is moving on and WATCHMEN.

It's a strange morning for me. I woke up today to the long-awaited news that Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the city's longest running and largest newspaper was closing the door on its print publication, continuing onwards solely as a digital paper. Eyes wide, all I could think was: times, they are a changing.

Seriously, this is one of the larger papers in America and it has finally succumbed to the crushing force of the internet and the even more debilitating presence of one of the country's worst recessions, well, ever. This isn't a localized event either, San Francisco is losing The Chronicle and Denver is well on it's way to losing The Star. More and more and more of this is going to happen as the years progress and folk become more adjusted to peering at newspapers on there computer screens. This is akin to vinyl becoming 8-track becoming cassette becoming CD becoming .MP3, we are literally living through one of the most monumental technological changes, well, ever. The printed word is going to cease to exist at some point, and when glass-brained robo-scientists of the future look back, this, The Seattle P-I shuttering its doors in favor of the cyber-realities of the internet, will stand out as the first event that signalled the beginning of the end.

And I for one am sad. Newspapers are beautiful things and in twenty years when my children are plugging in to wall sockets to brain-gest their daily helping of local news, I'm going to standing off to the side, remembering the days when I could sit in my living room and welcome the day with a neatly folded newspaper.

To all those who've been affected by the loss of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, I'm pouring out a drink or ten for you tonight.

I let the hype of Watchmen die down a bit before I went to see it. I was in San Francisco when the film released and sitting through two hours and forty minutes of comic book nostalgia seemed like a monumental waste of time. Also, my dad, a long time comic book nerd in hiding, had been foaming at the mouth about this comic book epic since he finished the graphic novel and I couldn't let the mustached fellow down. Thus it was almost two weeks after it's initial opening that my pops and I sat down in a near empty theatre to peruse a filmic adaptation of one of the great comic book stories, well, ever.

And all I can really say about it is ... I enjoyed it. I wasn't blown away by the adaptation, I didn't revile it, I just thought it was a solidly put together piece of comic book film making that did a fairly good job of bringing the themes and narratives of the graphic novel on to the screen. Honestly in retrospect, I don't really know why I wasn't more blown away by the film. Zach Snyder has done an exemplary job bringing the sense of history and depth so prevalent in the comic books to life on screen. This film pulses with the shared memories of these sad sad characters. Every screen is filled to the brim with images and allusions to events of the past and I couldn't help but be impressed. Also, Snyder has done a fantastic job of bringing his herky-jerky style of speed-up/slow-down fight scenes to this film. The fights always seem brutal, never overly comic, and I can't believe there's been a better use of wire-work in a American film to date. I found myself flinching and smiling through out.

I guess at the end of the this mammoth, dark, indy comic book film I just couldn't shake the thought that Watchmen never needed to be made in to a movie. Sure, film geeks of the world have been clamoring for something, anything from the Watchmen film camp forever, but I just don't know if it needed to be made. The most exciting merits of the comic exist in how literary and dense it is, a true epic of comic book storytelling. Sure, the movie has its sense of epicness as well, but the loose ends of this picture need to be tied up at the end. Main characters have to die and find love and we need a final shot that captures the essence of the film - it's Hollywood baby, that's just the way it is. The comic book on the other hand did a fine job of creating these spaces throughout where we could imagine what had come before and lose ourselves in the history on display. Here that history is secondary to the story, a series of easter eggs that the slap-happy viewer will scour in slow-motion on his nine hour directors cut. I always felt that in the comic book, the world and the history of that world were the main character and the people and stories who moved with in were just a part of that character. In the film though, these characters are the main story and the world is just something to marvel at.

I enjoyed the film, I just wasn't blown away.

I promise, back to Criterion Collection tomorrow.

Wednesday: The Magic Flute (71)

1 comment:

wescoat said...

Contrary to popular Hollywood belief, graphic novels are NOT just lengthy storyboards, and frequently do not make good films (see: most comic book-based movies over the last 20 years.) This is because they are literature, and a very unique kind in which the literary devices take form in both verbal and visual ways. What was so stunning about Watchmen (in addition to its fabulously realized characters and weird, intricate plotting... but then any film can do that) was the way it use its own medium - comic books - in such startlingly original ways. A Hollywood film is not a comic book, and there is no way for the storytelling devices of Watchmen - the parallel pirate panels, the supplementary essays and other fictitious literatures, and many more - to translate. Ultimately, like a novel, a graphic novel goes deeper than any film can, and Watchmen goes EVEN deeper than that because probably its greatest pleasure is watching HOW the story unfolds, the ways in which Moore unveils information. All that information can't even fit into the film version, let alone be revealed in such magical, exhilarating ways.