September 9th, 2009

How can you take something so good,

Adapt it so faithfully,

And end up with something so dull?


Posted in film and tv by Joe Abercrombie on September 9th, 2009.

19 comments so far

  • Alec says:

    Maybe they needed a bigger budget.

  • It's like a modified haiku you've written there, Joe.

  • harvb says:

    I have to say I personally loved it, I really did. I thoroughly enjoyed it, found it faithfully captured as much of the book as I guess it could.

    If I had to level a criticism at it I would suppose it would be the lack of Tales of the Black Freighter. For me that really made sense running a parallel through the story. Otherwise I loved it, especially Rorschach. Sorry you didn't though.

    Oh yeah, and too much blue willy. Way too much. And the whole Owl/Spectre sex scene was just… I don't know, creepy?

  • I really liked it too. Aside from the complaint Harv raised about the sex scene (which has put me off Cohen's Hallelujah for life) I thought it was an excellent adaptation, even down to the different ending.

  • What can I say? I thought the opening twenty minutes or so were great, but after that it went steadily downhill for me. I don't have a problem with blue dicks or sex scenes particularly, but it just seemed to lack personality, humour, or drama, and that level of detail that makes the book so believable.

    Perhaps it was that the adaptation was too faithful, and what works in graphic novel form doesn't necessarily work in film form, but some sequences seemed incredibly long and tedious (doc manhattan with silk spectre on mars, for example). Ozymandias barely seemed to register at all, such that the ending was no kind of twist. I felt no emotional engagement, whereas I really did with the book. Plus there was a level of cheesiness in there that was utterly absent from the book – perhaps I'm misremembering because I'm no expert, but when Manhattan killed people didn't they just wink out of existence? But in the movie they had to explode in a shower of gore? Sometimes less is more. A lot less might have been a lot more here. Perhaps it's just that things have moved on and the subject matter isn't as surprising as it might once have been, but this felt less like a searing re-examination of the superhero genre and more like a rather stodgy stock superhero film with a very nebulous plot.

    Probably it's impossible to render a film with the all the detail and subtext of the graphic novel, and maybe this is as close as you're going to get, but that doesn't mean I was any less bored by the end.

  • franti says:

    I agree, Joe. I never find myself enraptured or engaged during the film, which was extremely disappointing given that I spent at least a week straight doing nothing but reading the comic my first time through. The movie itself was just directionless, and at times baffling. I'd give it a solid "meh".

  • Shane says:

    I hated the soundtrack, mostly. It seemed like they chose the most obvious songs for each situation.

    With the exception being Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen for the sex scene (just weird).

  • harvb says:

    Actually Joe you did just highlight two other things I think I'd blanked out.

    Ozymandias: My god the actor had NO screen presence, did he? I thought of him as charismatic, strong and with an aura. I thought they'd put Michael Spencer in the role.

    The other thing was that yes, maybe it would have been better to not make it as faithful and to actually adapt it rather than translate it. In some scenes it did drag (I agree about Mars) and in others they seemed to just flash by (the prison).

    Again just my two copper pieces worth.

  • My big problem with Ozymandias wasn't so much his screen presence as that he should have looked like a classically heroic golden boy. A good guy rather than cold and inscrutable with a faintly european accent. He seemed from the start to be a slightly fey nazi. Who do you reckon the villain is? Er … the fey nazi?

  • harvb says:

    Yeah, Fey Nazi. I'd go with that. Of course I would likely have referred to him as the Raging Woofta Nazi Poster Boy, but hey yours works too.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sorry guys, I really enjoyed it. My expectations were so low that I was really impressed by almost all of it.

    Then again I was disappointed by the dark night and batman begins after their positive reviews, so what do I know?


  • Masrock says:

    I went to the cinema expecting not to like the film, I'd never read the comic, so was ignorant of the story.

    I ended up really enjoying it, so much so I said at the time that it may become the new Bladerunner.

    Maybe your high expectations could never be matched by any movie.

  • Michael says:

    Joe, Do you still sign books? If you do that's great! I wanna get Best Serve Cold signed for my step dads birthday

  • Susanne says:

    I really loved it, actually. Except Ozymandias, who grated and got on my nerves and was a prick. Or a "fey nazi", heh.

    I also thought it needed More. Rorschach! But I think that of just about everything.

    The opening sequence is one of the most beautful things I've ever seen on screen.

  • enjai says:

    I thought it was great – although I agree some scenes should have been shorter and others longer. I thought the fight with the Comedian at the begining was far too long and took away from the deadliness of the antagonist.

    I reread the GN prior to catching the movie and it didn't take away from it at all although "virgins" to Watchmen missed out on some things that they could not have understood without the graphic novel (which is very lazy of the director). At the same time those who were new to it enjoyed the film for eschewing the traditional "happy" ending.

    I'm looking forward to the super edition which has the original ending and integrates the "Black freighter" cartoon into the film.

  • Colinhead says:

    I've got an anecdote for you. Four of my friends, usually down for a good comic book romp, or even a good thinker, rented this movie and started watching it at 11pm. At 12:30am, three of us were asleep and one of us was just confused (not the one that read the book). For being so hamhanded with the imagery and drama, the movie did very little to convey the subtext of the graphic novel, which left people who hadn't read the novel wondering what the hell they just watched and why.

  • Pim says:

    I liked the movie. I think it helps I never read the comics. I read Spiderman and X-men. Compared to the movies made about Spiderman, Watchmen is deep and full of surprises.

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