Saturday, March 14, 2009

Watchmen (Part II)

Last time, I talked about sections of the film that could've been deleted or trimmed to make a more complete film. Some of these scenes were important, but I was thinking of how they work in the theatrical cut, not the "definitive" version that will be released on DVD later this year.

The run time of this film, two hours and 43 minutes, is an odd choice, especially when you consider that, on a movie this big, the credits will eat somewhere between 5-10 minutes of the film. But I imagine this length was decided by the studio to guarantee an additional showing of the film each day on each screen, in an attempt to make more money. I find that notion to be ridiculous and short-sighted, since a more complete, rewarding film would have produced better word of mouth which would have produced better box office returns after the first week. It certainly worked for Titanic and The Lord of the Rings.

A film clocking in at right about three hours (with credits) seems like the perfect length to me. So here's what I would have included to make a longer, more complete film.

Hollis Mason: Either remove him completely or keep him in the movie until his death. His death by the knot-tops is, to me, a vital element of the story, because it's the most painful example of how the superheroes' actions - both good and bad - affect the innocent on a day to day level, something missing entirely from the film shown in theaters.

It would be impossible to wedge in all the domestic squabbles of the characters around the newspaper stand into a film adaptation, but keeping Hollis Mason's tragic ending would represent this small but vital element of the comic series effectively.

Detectives Fine and Bourquin: The two only make it into the film for one scene, and the film works fine without them. But their section of the story makes an effective argument for why the world might have been a better place without any "masks" in it. And during the lead up to the climax in New York City, Detective Fine, who is suspended from the force, decides to break up a fight on the street even though it could get him into more trouble with his superiors. He decides to do this for one reason: it is the right thing to do.

It's a small but important element, and the omission of it completely changes the tone of the story. It certainly doesn't make Watchmen an upbeat story, but the fact that several characters like Fine and Dr. Long spend the last moments of their lives doing something decent and selfless makes for a far richer story - with at least a glimmer of hope. And that is what separates Watchmen from almost all of the "dark" comics that've been released in its wake. Any glimmer of hope or decency is lost in Snyder's adaptation.

The First Bar Scene: Shortly after The Comedian's death, Rorschach goes to a local dive, seen late in the movie for one scene, to muscle some information out of the goon's that frequent the joint about Blake's murder - most of whom are terrified of him. That first scene, where Rorschach breaks some fingers, isn't needed, but the whole joke of the entire bar turning to the one hood who has information on the "mask killer" late in the movie is almost completely wasted without this first scene.

More Moloch: Two of Moloch's three scenes make into the film. I can't think of a better actor for the part than Matt Frewer, and it's a shame that his other scene didn't make it into the film. The movie works fine without it, but his scenes with Rorschach were some of the most interesting moments of the original story

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One more rant coming... maybe.

End of line.

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