Sunday, March 15, 2009

Perhaps some recalibration is in order

That was the name of the post I started a week ago after I'd seen The Watchmen and had bought the new U2 album, No Line on the Horizon.

Both left me underwhelmed, and at first I decided maybe it was me. I've been busy as hell lately, my wife was in a car accident (she's fine, btw - got t-boned by a teenager who'd had her license a month), and the free hours I did have I spent on The Watchmen.

However, I've seen blog after blog go "meh" about it, so I've decided it does kinda blow (even though my two favorite critics - Ebert and Travers - liked it).

For me, the three moments that ruined it for me where:
- A "child in peril" where we see dogs fighting over the bloody leg bone of a little girl, which still has one of her shoes intact.
- A graphic sex scene which was bad enough in its own right (we see the guy's ass thrusting a few times), but they play Cohen's "Hallelujah" during the whole embarrassment. Not only has that song become a movie cliché, it has to be used ironically if it's used at all. But vetted as a serious soundtrack during a sex scene as we see their orgasms wash over their faces? I was not the only one who laughed out loud.
- They removed the freakin' ending. More on that later in the spoiler section.

Hopefully, this will be the last hard "R" adaptation of a comic book. Comic books are about grand stories and escapism. Dead children and superheroes boinking in the owl-mobile really yank you back into the dark reality of the theatre where you face the fact that you're a grown man (or woman) watching a movie about people who run around in leotards and capes fighting crime, as opposed to wearing leotards and capes while getting hammered as a means of getting out your ya-yas before the Catholic holy season. More than once I thought back on how The Incredibles portrayed all the same concepts in a much better way.

U2's new album was originally on sale for $4 (as was Lily Allen's), a trend I like very much. So make sure you bite the first week they're on sale.

While the new set isn't horrible, it is their biggest stinker since Zooropa. Like that one, there's only one obvious hit and a lot of noodling. That makes two albums in a row that aren't spectacular. But then, they have made so many spectacular albums that when they make a merely good one, it's a disappointment. There is one classic lyric though: "Every beauty needs to go out with an idiot."

Supposedly they are coming out with another album this year of the other songs they recorded during the sessions but didn't feel they were good enough or fit the theme of this album. I'll bet you that album will actually be pretty good, and if it is, you heard it here first.

I'm enjoying Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You much more. I'm even gonna buy the expurgated version of "Fuck You" because since they had to bleep it so much, they got creative and went totally Monty Python on it.

Even cooler, she's got a page where folks can upload remixes of her songs. On the CD are the base tracks for all the songs, so you can roll your own. (If I had the time, I'd get it and do just that, but since I don't, I just popped for the MP3s). The remixes are also a way to hear complete versions of the songs before you buy. Brilliant. If I were a rock star, I'd do this.

I'm apparently WAY behind the curve* on this next song because "popular" radio anymore mystifies and annoys me. Heck, even this song annoys me, because it would actually be a tasty tune if there were any TUNE there. All it's got is a beat and an aggravating synth run. BUT, the dancing is mesmerizing. And I HATE dancing videos. HATE'EM, I say. When videos went from little movies to nothing but choreographed dance numbers, I pretty much tuned out. I think that is really when MTV experienced their first big loss of viewership; the second being when they stopped playing vids altogether.

But once in a while one comes along that makes you go "whoa," and this is one of those times.

Beyoncé » Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)

*Apparently this has been out and popular for so long, there are well over two dozen parodies of it on Youtube.

Syaffolee discovered the original dance the above was stolen from based on:

If you're going to see The Watchmen, stop reading now.


I would guess that a lot of those who flock to The Watchmen have read the original, and somewhat seminal (save for the ending), graphic novel. As such, they probably anticipate the original ending.

Like me, they'll be sitting there as the credits roll thinking, "Did they really just do that? Did they really fuck up that badly?" Out in the lobby, they will finally face that the answer to both questions is "…yes."

Y'see, in the comic, the uber-smart Watchman guy (I don't care to look up their names) has secretly concocted a huge fake alien - faked so well using DNA manipulation, no one but he would be able to tell - which he then materializes in the middle of NYC, making it appear as though the process of teleporting actually killed the alien. This causes the world to unite together against this alien threat, stopping the nuclear annihilation about to occur between Russia and the US. (Let's disregard the fact that an actual event like that - the destruction of the towers - failed to do anything of the sort. I don't know why it'd matter if it were an alien or terrorists.) (Oh, and the towers are actually shown quite a few times in the background as if to underline this very thing.)

Folks who haven't read the novel will wonder what the hell really happened, because what does occur in the movie is a nuke goes off in the middle of NYC and they blame one of the Watchmen (the big, blue, naked one), which then causes worldwide peace as we unite against that particular superhero. Which makes no sense, because it's shown throughout the movie that if that particular superhero DID attack us, there's nothing we could do to stop it.

So they not only cripple the ending by changing it, they make it nonsensical.

For the record, when I was researching this, I discovered that the "fake alien invasion causes peace" plot was original to an "Outer Limits" episode called "The Architects of Fear," which the author of The Watchmen comic, Alan Moore, discovered after he'd already planned the ending, so he stuck in an "homage" to that episode to acknowledge the same.

You kinda wonder who was the fucktard was who thought changing the ending around was a good idea. It's kinda like if they changed the ending of Gone With the Wind and not only have Rhett stay with Scarlett end, but he reaches behind his neck and unzips a costume to reveal that he's really Ellen DeGeneres.


Whisky Prajer said...

While I remain very fond of the man, and am indebted to the critical writing of his healthier years, Mr. Ebert's current line of criticism is pretty weak. His reminiscences of years and personalities gone by are very affecting, however, and I do get a kick out of his blogular bitching. But reading his new movie reviews ... kinda depresses me. "That's the way the world goes round," as John Prine sez.

I read The Watchmen back in the day. I thought it was a boring, needlessly difficult work, but that Moore himself was a brilliant and interesting character. Weird, huh? In any case, there was nothing in the comic books that screamed out for movie treatment, and you are right to point out that Brad Bird took the best ideas and spun it into movie gold.

Sya said...

I must be a total square, because I thought the origin of Beyonce's dance moves was more amusing.

Yahmdallah said...

Sya: That's not square, that's awesome! It was more amusing.

WP: I grudgingly agree with all your points, with the exception that I liked the comic of the Watchmen, though it was gratuitously complex at times. I felt the same thing about the original "Dark Night" comic; amusing, but purposely opaque in order to seem more sophisticated than it was.

Whisky Prajer said...

That is indeed an awesome bit of YouTubery. I've been sharing it with just about everyone. Thanks, Sya!