Saturday, March 7, 2009
Top 5 Things that Didn't Work in Watchmen
Part Two of a Two-Part Review
Watchmen satisfies on many levels. Considering the difficult source material and unreal public and industry pressure, it's amazing the film turned out as well as it did. But Zack Snyder's loyal translation is far from flawless. Some mistakes are worse than others - here's my list.
5. Silk Spectre II - I won't entirely condemn Malin Akerman's portrayal of Laurie Juspeczyk (called Jupiter in the film). Yes, she seemed to understate the character to an extent, and maybe the relatively-inexperienced actress wasn't quite up for the part, but I feel that the character was botched long before she got her hands on it. In the book, Laurie is far more obviously damaged. She is petty towards her mother, taking all opportunities to talk down to her. She's got a fuse as short as they come, and she is bitter over having, from her perspective, wasted her life. And while Akerman failed to present this, the script swiped away almost all of the character's finest character moments. For example, the revelation that Eddie Blake is her father was rushed and her reaction seemed to come out of nowhere. The setup was almost entirely missing. (This may be corrected in the director's cut.) Also, Laurie's poolside breakdown in Chapter XII, which so well rounds out her arc was omitted completely.
4. "Blue Balls Syndrome" - Admit it: every time Dr. Manhattan appeared on screen, where was your visual center of gravity? DISTRACTING.
3. Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter - I honestly don't know what they were thinking with this piece of casting. Carla Gugino (aged 37) managed to make every one of her lines feel unnatural. As the young Silk Spectre, she was simply not notable. But as the older Sally, the more important of the two parts, it seemed as if she was struggling just to get her lines out. Gugino failed to convey even the semblance of a character behind her (poor) makeup, inadvertently sabotaging the believability in almost all of her scenes. Luckily, her scenes were few and far between.
2. The Songtrack - It's not that the songs Snyder and his crew picked were bad songs. "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel is a classic, but over the funeral scene it seemed completely out of place. "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen is a beautiful classic, but in Dan and Laurie's sex scene, it consumes the scene completely, adding to the cheesiness of the sequence. And I don't know what "Ride of the Valkyries" was doing in this movie. The songs chosen for the Watchmen soundtrack are almost all mood-killers, jolting the viewer out of the dream. I do give props for the use of "The Times They are A-Changin'" in the brilliant opening montage. Aside from that, though, I feel that the long list of great songs on the soundtrack were each used very poorly.
1. Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt - While Matthew Goode's performance was by no means as disastrous as Gugino's, it was certainly closer to the forefront. The character of Adrian Veidt (in the source material) is simultaneously commanding and unassuming, somewhere between Donald Trump and Hugh Hefner. Goode almost managed this. But instead of charismatic, his Ozymandias seemed cold, boring and... and where the hell did that accent come from? (It vanished and reappeared more than once over the course of the film.) Even as Veidt spoke the words "I've made myself feel every death..." I found myself unable to believe him. We should believe him - Veidt isn't a "bad guy." He's not diabolical, he's trying to save the world. Matthew Goode's Veidt feels too much like a heartless villain, and that's entirely contrary to what Watchmen is about - moral ambiguity.
I know there's going to be disagreement on this. C'mon and let me here it!