"Watchmen" interview

I read the following quote by "Watchmen" director Zack Snyder on CNN just now:

"The story itself is a pretty straightforward mystery," said Snyder, "but inside of that, there's this huge plot that has international intrigue and a super-villain and everything you want from a superhero story.

And it made me want to put my head through the wall. The "Watchmen" graphic novel is a "straightforward mystery" with a "huge plot that has international intrigue and a super-villain and everything you want from a superhero story" in the same way that "All in the Family" was a "straightforward sitcom" with "a cast of zany characters full of good-old-fashioned American hijinks and crazy situations and everything you want from a silly sitcom".

No no no no no no no. Like "All in the Family", "Watchmen" used the traditional conventions of a genre and turned them on their head to tell the story of interesting, conflicted, flawed, deeply human characters. My dad never realized Archie Bunker was making fun of racists -- he thought the part was straight-up and agreed with everything that came out of the character's mouth. He didn't understand the concept of irony any more than Zack Snyder does, judging from that quote. To walk away from reading "Watchmen" and to think that the plot and the super-villain were the most important bits is to completely miss the entire point. I cannot tell you how disheartening it was to read that. Gah.

I have a sinking sensation that this movie isn't just going to be bad, it's going to be epically bad. Categorically bad. Galacticaly bad. Bad in a way that slanders not just itself and its source material but the entire genre. My guess as to how this is going to turn out is best summed up in this "Bloom County" strip:

bloom-county-1

I sure hope I'm wrong, but everything I see gets me more and more disheartened. Zack Snyder completely does not understand this project. At all. I better bring a sponge with me to the showing because I have a feeling my eyes are gonna bleed. Blech.

17 Responses to "Watchmen" interview

  1. Maybe Zack Snyder used those words just to get people into the theaters. How else could he sell the movie to the widest range of potential ticket buyers?

  2. This does make me worried about the ending, which I hear is not like in the book. And he has reassured the fans that it will be “done in the spirit of the original comic”, but looking at this thing makes me wonder how much of that spirit he has actually caught.

  3. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this. As Danny Beaty says, it’s possible he’s just trying to put asses in seats at this point. Which would not be accomplished by telling non-comics people that it’s a deconstructionist piece aimed at more traditional comics.

  4. Story too big to fit in one-shot movie. Need HBO/SHO/MAX – level and class series to present it correctly.
    I have tix and barf bag ready.

  5. Jose–with the success of “Heroes”, do you think that might happen after the movie?

  6. I’m not going to judge until I see it. I suggest you all do the same.

  7. I won’t JUDGE before I see it, but I will DREAD or FEAR or ANTICIPATE or CRINGE before then. And I have.

    My plan is to go into thinking “This is not Watchmen, this is just another kung-fu super-hero movie” and try to enjoy it on its own terms. I don’t know if that is possible, but I’m gonna try.

  8. @Jeff

    I am excited because all the previews have looked…awesome.

  9. Honestly, I’m not very familiar with the graphic novel Watchmen, so I really can’t express any fears about how the movie will turn out. But, like DJ said, the previews look really good, so I hope to see it.
    I have faith that you’ll give us your full review when it comes out, so I look forward to that too, either for your scathing words that will make us cringe and hide under our beds, or for your inspiring tone that makes us all want to go see it again.

  10. ::rolls eyes:: Don’t be so judgemental. My god. “I won’t judge” Please. You already have. Talking crap about someone you don’t know from one quote. It’s a smart move to never expect too much from any movie though.
    I know several people who have seen this movie who are fans of the book and they loved it. One person said the movie clocks in at 2:45 or somewhere close but the people hosting the viewing told him there will be two dvds with longer cuts. One thats 3 hours and one thats 3 1/2.
    The following is a semi- spoiler:
    He said the theatrical version has one of the deaths cut out for time but that will be on the dvds. I’ve never read the book so I don’t have a clue as to who dies and who lives. He also said it has lots of nudity, namely Dr Manhattan but also the female character.

  11. Man, 2:45 is a long, long run-time for any movie. Wow. That’s … a long time to sit in a theater.

    And look, we all judge entertainment all the time. We’re humans, it’s what we do. We’ll see it and decide if we like it or not. Some will and some won’t, which is what makes the world go round.

    I’m not judging Snyder on this one quote, I’ve been following the progress of Watchmen since he came on board. The quote in question is relevant, though. It’s like if Peter Jackson had said of “Lord of the Rings” during a pre-release interview that “It’s basically a love story, but inside of that it’s a dungeon crawl.” You’d rightly feel nervous about what he was going to do with a seminal piece of fiction because clearly, a quote like that would indicate he didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

    Which is the same sense I get from Synder’s quote. If that’s what you come away from Watchmen thinking, you’ve missed the point entirely.

    That doesn’t mean he’s made a bad movie, but it does give you pause for concern if, like me, you think the source material is phenomenal.

    And yes, when it’s over and I’ve seen it I will judge it. And so will you. Duh. If people didn’t judge art when they see it, art would be pretty fricking pointless.

    Until then, reading up on it and speculating is part of the fun. That’s why they put out trailers and do interviews and tours, they want people speculating about it without having seen it. So get off your high horse and roll around in the muck a little! If the movie’s good, once we see it we’ll have a good laugh over how wrong we were. And if it sucks we’ll have a good laugh at how right we were.

    We’re nerds. It’s what we do.

  12. Personally I hate every comic movie before its shown and I’ve found that I’m not let down about 90% of the time. I’m really hoping this one will be of the ones that prove me wrong like Dark Knight, but I fear it will end up like another Spiderman 3.

  13. I’m cautiously optimistic, myself. I read an interview several months ago with Snyder where he bemoans the fact that they had to cut the Black Ship segments out of the theatrical version due to time contraints, and says he hopes the fans ‘won’t hate me, because I realize those scenes are maybe not integral, but they do add another allegorical dimension’. (I’m paraphrasing there, but it was something to that effect.) That to me shows that Snyder knows what’s up with the book and will do right by it.

    Also, have you seen the shot of the ‘Minutemen 1940’ photo? It is exact in all details, down to the poses and the expressions on the characters faces. If even half of the movie shows as much attention to detail as this photo does, I’ll walk away happy, at least with the visuals.

  14. Good points Imp. I guess my big worry is that he “got” all the visual details right while missing the spirit of the whole thing. But hopefully I am wrong and it’ll be a good movie-going experience.

  15. The wait is over! I got to see an advance screening last night and…
    THEY DIDN’T SCREW IT UP!!
    It’s a good movie, very true to the source material. Most of the changes were, I think, just to streamline the story down to a a manageable length. The visuals are great, but they captured the spirit of the story, as well. It’s not perfect, but it certainly isn’t the train-wreck we were all dreading. The most encouraging thing is that my friend and I struck up a conversation with another attendee afterward, and when I asked if she had read the original, she replied “No, but I’m going to!”

  16. Thanks for the report, Rendu!

  17. Okay, now I’m debating going to the first showing Thursday midnight and calling in sick to work the next day. 😀