Watching the Watchmen

We went and saw the Watchmen this weekend. As a fan of the comic I am, of course, disappointed.

Through the first half I was impressed at how true to it all they were, so much so that the movie pacing of it seemed odd. I have to give them props for that. But the second half started to go downhill and the little changes began to add up.

Some changes are necessary, obviously. The Black Freighter bits, for one, wouldn’t fit in with a movie. But some of them left a strange gap in it. For instance, because they changed the… err, threat, at the ending, they also cut out some of the Comedian’s investigations. We never found out how it came to be that he was killed, he was just killed because ‘he knew.’ And that’s unfortunate, as the Comedian is the crux of the whole damn story. Well, that’s not strictly accurrate. Technically all of them are in their way.

The sex scene in the middle was unnecessary too. True, it happened in the comic, but it was less explicit. It really didn’t need to be so in the movie.

The biggest disappointment was the change in character attitudes at the end. This is a bit of a case of different people interpreting bits of the comic differently, but it added up to change the tone dramatically. After Doc Manhattan leaves, Dan freaks out at Adrian? No, dammit. Dan realized that it was too late to change it and went with it. He and Laurie leaving Karnak? No, dammit, they stayed behind to enjoy just being people for a little while. Rorschach begging to be killed? Err, no. Suicide would be compromising his plans, and even in the movie, thirty seconds earlier, he said he would never compromise.

The worst was the shot of Dan and Laurie leaving Karnak, with Oz standing there looking like a defeated villian in a tattered castle. It skipped the Doc’s last conversation with him, too. Way, way out of order there.

And so I’m disappointed. The thing is, though, the bigger disappointment was the crowd in the theater. They’d giggle at the blue wang (every time, too. You’d think they’d get over it after the first couple times), and more importantly, they’ll never go back and read the comic. They’ll never understand the subtleties underlying it all. They don’t, and won’t, care. That’s the biggest issue of all of it.