Howdy Inter-Webbers, I’m Matt Cohen and I dig WATCHMEN.
Oh, do I dig WATCHMEN. Besides Hellboy of course, WATCHMEN is my single favorite comic book of all time. I remember reading it when I was 16 years old and being completely and utterly blown away by its level of reality, and depth and respect for the reader. Alan Moore is arguably the greatest comic book writer of all time, and WATCHMEN is his masterpiece. It single handedly reinvented what comics could be, and how fans perceived them (including lil’ old your’s truly). Since the mid eighties there have been various attempts to adapt the twelve comic books into a feature length film, and all had sadly failed. Comic book films in general were hard sells, and one based on a comic book that was read by very few people and contained no iconic characters? Not a chance. And it stayed that way for many years, until a movie by the name of 300 came out; and with it, its director/wunderkind Zack Snyder. The success of that film, both monetary and critical (shrugs), has led to something amazing and unexpected, even - A genuine big budget studio WATCHMEN film. The most anti-superhero of all superhero books, and probably the toughest sell of all. And geek cups (probably those Taco-Bell/Star Wars ones) runneth over. That news broke over a year ago, and though we’ve gotten slight (and I mean slight) glimpses and glimmers of the production, the first real watershed of goodness broke yesterday… and boy did It break.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the brand new, first ever WATCHMEN trailer. And I promise I’ll do my best to contain myself.
Let me get this out of the way. I really enjoyed Snyder’s first feature, the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake; but absolutely HATED 300. In my opinion it’s not a movie, rather a 90 minute music video/commercial/screensaver. More style over substance then I’ve ever seen in my entire life (except GERRY - and if you know what I mean, I feel sorry for you). So, in my opinion, Synder was 1-1. Basically tied. He had one more chance to win me over to his side before he lost me forever. And what a chance - an adaptation of one of my all time favorite works of art! This was make or break time (’cause I’m sure he was super concerned about my opinion of him). And with my first reaction to the trailer, I have only one thing to say…
Thank… you… dude.
It looks absolutely PERFECT, in my opinion. Every character nailed (with one exception, which I’ll get into in a bit), the look and feel of the city down to a “T” and the effects and costume design are as impressive as I could have ever hoped. We may have a genuine WATCHMEN flick on our hands here, kiddos. Lets break this boogie down. I’m gonna attempt to give two views here, one of the uber-fan I am, and one of a non-fan - someone not initiated into the world of WATCHMEN. Also, the casting, the direction, all that will present itself in due time. For now, I am reacting purely to the imagery.
NON FAN RESPONSE: It’s a solid trailer, though nothing exceptional. It gives absolutely nothing away of the plot and I have no idea what this movie could possibly be about, save a crazy blue floating guy with superpowers and a bunch of scrubby looking b-listers running around a city I’ve never seen before. It obviously has a fan base, being proclaimed “Based on the most celebrated graphic novel of all time” so I’m sure it’ll be good. That owl guy looks a lot like BATMAN. Wait a minute… I like BATMAN! Speaking of BATMAN isn’t that the SMASHING PUMPKINS song used in BATMAN and ROBIN? That movie was awful… Now I’m conflicted. But 300 was visually crazy so at least you know this movie will look great. I’m so confused right now. A new superhero movie about superheroes I’ve never heard of. My head hurts. The effects look cool though, especially that blue magical dude from ALMOST FAMOUS. And that guy with the ink blot mask seems pretty bad ass. Hmmm. I think I do want to see this movie. Maybe I should buy the book its based on.
*Slams door-enters car-heads to LCS-buys trade-goes home-opens book-blows mind.
SPOILER ZONE: If you haven’t read the WATCHMEN comics yet DO NOT read my reaction to the trailer, as I will be discussing specific moments from the plot of the story/film.
MY RESPONSE: Hold on one moment… Lemme dry the tears. Okay. Better now.
OH MY F’ING GOD THEY MADE A WATCHMEN MOVIE!!! My body broke out in goosebumps the second I saw Osterman/Cruddup on screen. I love how the trailer just starts with that cold opening. No warning, no prologue, just the creation of the world’s most powerful superhero. I’ve seen this trailer about fourty times now so I’d like to go through it clip by clip If I may.
1. Dr. John Osterman becomes Dr. Manhattan: This could have gone so wrong. We’ve all seen cheesy and unrealistic transformation scenes in comic book movies before (I’m not gonna drop names, but you know which ones I mean). It is a strong statement to start the trailer off with what is one of the more technologically complex effects shots from the movie, in a world filled with brilliant cgi and big budget blockbusters. How does this effect match up to others of its ilk? Wow… Wow, wow and more wow. I gotta take my hat of to Snyder, who has appeared to have blended his signature 300 hyper-stylized look with one of more traditional “Superhero” CGI, and the result is something that is so stunningly gorgeous and yet hauntingly sad at the same time. In fact, there are so many images from this trailer that I would love to take stills of and have blown up into posters. This is art, at its highest form (much like the comic book it is based on). We get no awful face melting, no hacknied body shakes, the transformation is instantaneous and carries the emotional weight of a fork lift. What a way to start this trailer off, and further, to start our ride down the road that leads to WATCHMEN. And the slight glance at his watch… Yeah.
2. Archie flying out of the water: A perfect adaptation of Nite-Owl’s vehicle. The size is exact, the coloring just as it should be. I love the feeling of speed this shot conveys. Also, that skyline is unbelievable. Archie fits right into this world. Nothign too flashy, nothing too sleek, but it does the job it’s meant to do. Kinda like Nite-Owl 2 (Dan) himself.
3. Silk Spectre crashes down: Booom! And with that millions of fanboys drooled the world over. It couldn’t get better then that, could it? See number 9
4. Nite-Owl 2 in Action: I’ve heard some fans criticize the costume design for Dan in this film, but I think it is exactly how it should look. Semi-Home made, not worn in years, and anything but boisterous or loud. Yes, it rings a little Batmannish, but if you know the history of the book then that makes sense as well. I dig it. The textures, the color… Very good.
5. Bye-Bye Comedian: A glimpse at the moment that (in a way) starts it all. Good job of the editor to keep the uninitiated confused. The sequencing makes it look like Nite- Owl from the previous shot is the one to kick Blake through the window. This film is a mystery. Let’s try our hardest to keep newbies from having the ending spoiled for them. Imagine how amazing it would be to see the final reveal in theaters, fresh and unaware? I get chills…
6. Ozymandias Revealed: In my opinion, the weakest translation from book to screen. I’ve seen MATCH POINT and know that Matthew Goode has some chops, but that costume screams BATMAN AND ROBIN (Trailer song coincidence anyone?). I just imagined Veidt to look sleeker, more refined, less cartoony. We’ll see. of course. in the finished product, but as of now that is the only design flaw to this film, in my opinion. Dig old Nixon in the background though. It’s the little things folks.
7. Manhattan Phases: The good doctor goes all sub-particle and it looks real, if that doesn’t sound ridiculous enough. I love how it’s a seamless transition from form to floating matter. Again, that style that Synder has cultivated fits amazingly well into the world of superpowers and super feats. Not only does it not distract, but it takes this to a whole other level, one closer to an art film then a pumped up comic book movie.
8. Say hi to Rorschach (and a face full of flame): The moment of truth. Undeniably the most popular character from WATCHMEN and one of the most beloved heroes in all of comic books. And… we have what might be one of the greatest on-screen characters of all time. YES!!!! THAT IS RORSCHACH! Everything down to the last minute detail. The mask is downright breathtaking. For a fan who never thought this movie would come out to see Rorschach in living, breathing full color is a dream of a lifetime and a moment I will never forget. Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, thanks to everyone who made this movie a reality. Even if it sucks (like that could happen), just to acknowledge something a small group of dedicated people love and to do it such honor is a really amazing thing.
9. Silk Spectre, come on down..: I think I am in love. With Malin Ackerman, with the designers of the film - hell, right now, with planet Earth. I have never been more intimidated - and yet turned on at the same time - by a woman in my life. This IS the only woman who could steal Dr. M’s heart away. Another beloved character seemingly transported straight out of the four color funny book pages and landed onto our respective screens. Respective drool covered screens, that is.
10. Dr. Manhattan X 3: Our first real glimpse at what has become of John Osterman. What many people are calling the most difficult aspect of the translation and, in response to the trailer, the most succesfull. Simply put, that is Billy Cruddup’s face on Dr. Manhattans body. There is NO other design choice for this character. The look we see in this movie is the look Gibbons created for the book, and it is the only look that works. And oh, how it works. This is the image and the character that will draw non-fans into the film. And fans… well, I think you can guess how we feel.
11.Nite-Owl Swoops: Did Snyder just out Batman Batman? That single shot evokes so much emotion, memory, and nostalgia in me that it has became my favorite of the trailer (and the screencap, the background on my computer). Such grace and silent power Dan carries. I love the running citizens in the background. Love how all-business Nite-Owl is. Fanboy gold, through and through…
12. Funeral for a friend?: Not much to say other than tonally it seems to be in the right place. Not overly sad (due to the man Blake was), but mournful - more for the death of an idea then the death of a man.
13. The Comedian and Dr. Manhattan go to Vietnam: Again, Synder wows me with the visuals. Not only is Comedian perfect looking, the color palette of the scenes really go far to paint a picture of this idealized, almost romanticized version of the end of Vietnam that creator Alan Moore crafted. The shot that follows - a few scenes of Dr. Manhattan vaporizing the Viet-Cong gentlemen - is too awesome to put down in words. The look on Dr M’ face - not really contentment, not really purpose… Hell, I don’t want to try and describe it. I just want to see it on a big screen (IMAX big… You listening WB and LEGENDARY?).
14. The Crowd turns angry: One of the more powerful images from the book translated into an extremely powerful image on screen. I love the attention to detail that has been paid on dressing the extras. These people are STRAIGHT out of the comic. Also, it’s reassuring to know that the plot seems to have remained entirely intact on the adaptation.
15. Dr. Manhattan Pops in: Yeah… He can do that. And he is in a prison. Us fans know what that means. The best (fan favorite) sequence in the film is about to begin. Damn teases.
16. Let’s get it on: Laurie and John share an intimate moment. And we, as the viewer, get to see a shot that is so damn beautiful, it should be hung up on the wall in a fine art museam. It’s visuals like this that will make this film so much more then just another “Cape” movie and take in into the realm of “Higher” art
17/18. Blake + Rorschact + Veidt throw their collective weight around: One of my major complaints with 300 was that I was bored with the fighting style/action scenes. Synder, thankfully, has done away with that “Gold Hue” that made me nauseous but kept the intense and artfully choreographed action that first gave him a name in this town. Yes, it appears that this movie will have its fair share of slo-mo, but that is forgivable in a world where we are meant to feel every blow as if it strikes our own body. The viewer SHOULD feel beat up after leaving this film, physically and emotionally. As long as Synder doesn’t rely too heavily on his old tricks, I think we are in store for some truly remarkable action pieces.
19. Nite-Owl screams: A taste of the darkness to come. People think DARK KNIGHT is a tonally bleak movie. Heheheheheheheehehehe. Right….
20. Crowd gives Comedian what for: A powerful, evocative image directly from the books. I love that Snyder and the producers of this film haven’t shied away from the political and non-traditional nature of the source material. Most superhero films present us with a world in which the heros aren’t questioned. This movie will strongly bring up the point “Do we need Superheroes” - and at a tumultuous time in our own society, the question (or deeper metaphor) couldn’t be more perfect.
21. Rorschach busts a pose: Folks, if any single image has excited me more then this one in the past few years, I don’t know what it could be. The moving ink blots? BRILLIANT! The voice… Haley couldn’t have been a better choice.
22.The Moony shot: There it is folks. The future of the human race in all its glory. And impressive is an understatement. What a way to go out. If non fans were confused already, this shot will take their minds over the edge. With this image, I and a countless horde are left waiting and wanting more. Perfect cap to a perfect trailer.
OVERALL REACTION- There is now not a single film I am looking forward to as much as this one. What an incredible trailer/gift for the longtime fan. Sweet, succinct, jaw droppingly badass (I can’t get that song out of my head). Honestly, the best possible trailer I could have hoped for. No need to throw away plot or exposition. Tease em’… and leave ‘em wanting more. And I do… A lot more. WATCHMEN countdown officially starts now, folks. I, for one, cannot wait.
So, if you haven’t, read the book. If you have… yeah, I’m that psyched as well.
Check back next week, friends, for more fun in the proverbial sun. And, as always,
“Keep’em bagged and boarded”
-Matt Cohen is currently watching the WATCHMEN trailer again… and again.
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