Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Movie Review Smorgasbord Round-up Extravaganza - The Complete Collection Part 1: Watchmen.

So I saw some films last year that I never got around to commenting on (apart from the ones I saw on planes, see the travel blog for more), and some of them were quite good. Some of them were also downright terrible. I'll let you guess which.

Watchmen - Based on the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel of the same name. Some would say the most famous Graphic Novel ever, which just goes to show the graphic novel medium is a sadly closed off industry, as I only heard about it when they announced the movie. This is a shame, because the comic is pretty damn good, and should be read by anyone interested in the comic medium. (But read some other ones first. Magnum Opuses are generally downright terrible introductions to a medium)

The film is an astonishingly faithful to the original work, at times a shot for shot, word for word translation, which from a design and a technical point of view is probably to be commended. Unfortunately, being entirely faithful is not necessarily a good thing.

If a film is to be a film, it should be designed as a film. (I'm just going to keep using the word film excessively in this film discussion. Film.) If I wanted a 100% accurate version of Watchmen, get this, I would read Watchmen. Funny that.

The film is not bad by any means, but it is about 40 minutes too long, drags in a few places, and is too violent by half. (Dear Zack Synder. Stop being violent. You're missing the point of these comics. You did it in 300 too. Amazing tragic story of the death of the Spartans, and you turned it into a random gorefest. Just stop it.) Certainly it looks fantastic, and showed off the imax screen we saw it on in fine style. But the reason a gritty violent comic can be more gruesome than a film is that it is a visual static medium. It's one frame, and then you can get on with the story, suitably affected. In a film you have movement, you have sound effects, and because this is Zack Synder, you also have awful, unnecessary slow motion. Thank you Zack, I needed to see someone's cheek being bitten off in slow motion. I understand the story so much better now.

One thing the movie does get right is the ending. Rightly realising that the ending of the graphic novel wouldn't quite fly with a 2000 modern audience who are cool and cynical, they changed one small but key point in the ending, which actually enhances things significantly. Kudos, scriptwriter (whichever one was responsible, there were several. One of them wrote X-men. Is that a good thing?)

I was getting a little excited about Watchmen before it's release (thanks to buying and reading the Graphic Novel) and even though I didn't like the film all that much, I did discover several new properties which I did. Zack Synder's previous film 300 is bad in all the same areas as Watchmen (Directorial vision isn't intrinsically good), but Frank Miller's comic that it is based on is one of the best I've ever read. Alan Moore also wrote the Graphic Novel V For Vendetta which is very good, and which was turned into a film by the Wachowski Brothers (as script writers and producers) which actually manages to be better.

From there I went to Speed Racer, and that's when things started to fall down a little.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5. Another film review coming on Sunday.

Diary of a Mad Writer #4 - Oh, so they have the internet on computers these days?

Lots has happened since last update.

The play has been and gone, and if I do say so, been and gone quite well indeed. After a first week of empty theatres and slightly nervous performances, our second week was a great success, with large audiences, solid performances, and many a laugh. (From the audience, not from us, that would be weird) Although we were unable to break even, we did come mighty close, and I take that as a win. Compliments were received for both the writing and the performance, which certainly gives me hope for the future.

We've begun talks for our next production (which is likely to be the following year), and I have eagerly leapt into my next project, of which I will remain quiet for the moment as we are only in the early stages and announcing before we're ready is never a good idea, suffice to say it is a combination of several different smaller projects. Watch your computer monitors.

Currently I'm teaching myself a lot of new skills, as there are areas I want to move into that I have little to no practicaly knowledge about, so with the help of some text books and a few dvds, I'm slowly increasing my skillset, which will help with the projects in question, but also provide some long term open doors. It's a shame the software is so expensive, but ah well, can't be helped.