Fup Duck Costumed Heroes

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Watchmen @ Greater Union Megaplex, Innaloo

Hurrah! For the first time in a long while I actually enjoyed a movie at my local cinema. Greater Union Innaloo managed to start Watchmen at the advertised time, focus the projector and get the sound working – all simultaneously! Oh, and the movie wasn’t half bad either.

Watchmen could have been great, but was derailed in the last half hour by the usual American filmmaking bullshit where the “villain” has to explain everything so the audience isn’t left with any loose ends. “Jesus facking Christ, we haven’t explained how the hitman in scene 45 got hold of the suicide pill! Where’s that goddamn script editor?” Why is this clumsy reveal-all conceit such a consistent component of American movies?

Watchmen is based on the eponymous “graphic novel” by English writer Alan Moore. What’s a graphic novel? A comic book becomes a graphic novel when the prose is so turgid that the word “comic” runs away, hocks its box and gets addicted to smack in a rainy metropolis where hookers and thugs run riot. Moore’s other goth-politik comic books include The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta, both of which were made into very average movies (the former was merely a shit movie; the latter, a fucking shit movie).

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Moore kept his name well away from those past productions and the new filum is no different, apparently penned by David Hayter and Alex Tse. But against all the odds, these dudes do a pretty good job.

Where recent superhero flicks like Iron Man have been a bit like a quick chocolate-bar sugar fix, Watchmen is more akin to French onion soup, beef Wellington and profiteroles, all sluiced down with a litre of absinthe. It’s dark as fuck and tells of the lives of a bunch of semi-retired second generation costumed heroes (NOT super heroes, they are all too human) against a background of impending nuclear war and the mysterious murder of one of their brethren.

The movie is long – about 2.5 hours worth. Most of it revolves around flashbacks about each character’s past. And what histories they have. Rape, child abuse, cannibalism, torture, war crimes… These aren’t your regular comic book heroes. And it’s absolutely delicious. I savored the first two hours of this film. The ending (the last 20 minutes or so), as I’ve already mentioned, is typical Hollywood crap, unfortunately, but don’t let that put you off, the rest is a cracking bit of filmmaking.

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Yes, the violence is explicit, and often executed against women and children, but unlike the gratuitous violence and torture in the last Batman flick (Dark Knight, which I found genuinely repugnant), the violence here compiles the characters, painting these so-called saviors-of-civilization as profoundly conflicted mere mortals who on a daily basis grapple with utterly terrifying inner (and outer) demons.

Phew. It’s a wild ride and brought to the screen in a very stylish manner. The imagined alternative 1985 where Nixon is president and America won the Vietnam War (thanks to our masked mavericks) is beautifully rendered with a great deal of poignant and clever detail. Some of the scripting is a little bombastic and pretentious, but it can easily be forgiven. Check it out, it’s worth a look.

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5 Responses to Fup Duck Costumed Heroes

  1. Nick says:

    …I agree that The League, sucked, but rubbishy as it was (Natalie Portman?), I quite liked V – despite the difficulty of the lead wearing a mask throughout the film (never bothered claude van damme)… looking forward to seeing Watchmen next week

  2. Nick says:

    ps… didn’t you like Zoolander… 😦

  3. effjayh says:

    Yay, back to great prose
    But even Yayer!!!! – you fricken LIKED it?
    There is hope in the world of the willster, and where there’s hope, there’s lots of other really really good stuff … just wait and see
    And don’t listen to Nick … even tho’ I haven’t see the WHOLE of Zoolander yet, i am sure it is just as good as you keep saying is …

  4. Nick says:

    …”But even Yayer!!!” What does this mean???

    Willster – along with your rather nifty getfeedjit widget, perhaps you could add the ‘Oz-speak’ plugin to Bablefish, to help us chaps in the Northern Hemisphere converse? Off to tiffin’ now, tottle pip…

  5. Nick Wray says:

    … saw Watchmen on Monday, Wilhelm, but I hate to say I didn’t really enjoy it. Partly because it’s just sooooo long. I assume you — or the seats in Innaloo — are better padded than me (or my cinema’s), but *why* do modern films *have* to be more than 90 mins. “In my day…”

    [*** plot spoiler alert ***]

    Didn’t like the violence, particularly the early stuff centered on women – OK it establishes the character of the Comedian but it is still unnecessarily gratuitous.

    Overall, I just didn’t care about who/why.

    Good to see the male member in a (blue?) movie at last, but weird that Dr Manhattan – out of misplaced decency? – wears Speedos whilst murdering the Vietnamese, yet seems quite happy to have his todger hanging out around the office… think he has his cosmic values a bit twisted (like his Watch Pants?).

    Perhaps it’s an issue of relative size and the thought of a 50 feet penis was too much for the marketing guys? :-0

    And can someone please explain *why* does Rosarch’s mask pattern keep changing?

    And how come these ‘normal’ superheros have such – in effect – superpowers? The Owl Man didn’t seem to have much trouble beating up the street gang with his girlfriend, despite having been ‘resting’ for a number of years…

    I looked at my old Watchmen comic book and was amazed/impressed to see how almost every scene in the book is reproduced in the film. Did you know Alan Moore (I’ve been told) only writes the words? I always thought he was the graphic artist too, but apparently not. The words are the worst bit on the whole?

    I am very hard to please with pics, to be fair, but I thought Sin City was a much better example of comic book-to-screen. It looks amazing on a big screen, and manages to remain fantastical yet engaging. And the violence in that — whilst gory — remains theatrical.

    Watchmen – 6/10

    Your critical pal

    PS – and whilst I’m at it, I have to say I *enjoyed* Slumdog… is some North/South cultural divide coming between us???

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