I finally saw Watchmen last weekend and therefore can now add my two cents to the wealth of reviews, complaints, and general griping about the movie. I did read the graphic novel in advance of the film. I went in thinking they were trying to do the movie shot for shot, but not really wanting them to because I didn’t think it would transfer all that well if they did. They didn’t exactly, not the way everyone was talking about it, and I’m glad, but that wasn’t quite enough.
I’m still processing overall, so I thought I would break down my thoughts into sections. So we shall begin with the actors, whose performances, in my opinion, ran a spectrum of God-Awful to Beautifully Spot On.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Continuum of Awesome, traveling from Hated/Worst performances through Mediocre on up to Loved/Mind-Blowingly Awesome. Enjoy.
Poop On a Stick – The guy who played Nixon
I realize that Frank Langella was probably not available (not to mention it’s so been done before), but this guy was about as believeable portraying Nixon as the guys in Point Break were with their rubber masks. Just because it’s based on a graphic novel, that doesn’t mean you have to play it like a cartoon character. This was partly a makeup problem – with the prosthetics to make him look older, his face just moved funny every time he spoke. Or rather, parts of his face moved that weren’t supposed to as the mask jiggled and flopped. That’s the perception I came away with, anyway. And he really sounded like a caricature. This was a Nixon by the guys who walk around state fairs with large pads of paper drawing everyone as big silly bobble-heads riding skateboards for ten bucks. I don’t want to see Nixon with a skateboard. He has a lot of the moments in the film where the stakes become more serious and I just don’t believe him when he looks and sounds like something that came out of the Warner Brothers water tower.
Cringe-Worthy – Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter
Nothing pissed me off more than Carla Gugino (okay, except Nixon). She was fine in the flashbacks and the attempted rape scene was not done badly, but everything else where she was playing a 67-year-old (I think it’s 67) was utter crap. Unbelieveable, badly done crap. I was wondering if it had something to do with her being more of a stage actress, if that’s why she was talking too large and too loud all of the time, but her career on screen doesn’t support that. She should be a lot smarter than the performance that she gave. Weren’t they required to read the book? Grrrr.
Boo/Miscast – Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias
I really want to see The Lookout and I really want to see him in it, but this was one of the most flagrant cases of miscasting I have ever seen. I’ve been trying to look up other reviews of his performance and interviews keep surfacing with him talking about German guilt and all of this German vs. American stuff. a. That sure as hell didn’t come across, b. there was no basis for it in the book, so what was the point, and c. it gave him the weirdest, stupidest half-accent ever. It was like he couldn’t make up his mind whether to lisp or not. Take a look at the book and you’ll see how wrong this was.
Boooo(obs) – Malin Akerman as Laurie Jupiter (should have been Juspeczyk)
I so wanted to like her in this. And as the main female character, I so wanted her to blow everyone out of the water… Not so much.
Indifferent to Interesting – Malin Akerman’s wig
Laurie’s hair was pretty much it’s own character. And, I’m sad to say, was cooler than Malin. Though very unrealistic. That shit would have been stuck to her chapstick and in her eyes the entire time she was fighting. Malin does deserve props for some serious hair flippage, though.
Fine/Good – Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan
Some people really love him and are talking about the amazing vocal work he did (cause what else was he able to do for himself what with the CGI and motion capture pajamas). He was fine. He did a good job in the part. But it wasn’t great. It wasn’t my favorite thing ever. But good job, Billy. You didn’t suck or make the movie worse.
Pretty Good – Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian
He had a cool cool character to portray and did a fine job of it. Wish there was more of his stuff included. I would have taken the additional opportunities to see just how Jeffrey did.
Loved – Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl
In the reviews I’ve been finding, they haven’t seemed to love Patrick as much as I did. Come on people, he was one of my favorite parts of the movie! He was the actor who was the best cast, who fit his role so well, and after the other missteps in that area, that’s exactly what was needed. I saw one review that said he was too hot, that he should have been even more “gone to seed” and pudgy, and suggested Philip Seymour Hoffman instead. No offense, Phil, but the person who wrote that is an idiot and obviously hasn’t read the book. Nite Owl may look like a shlubby professor at the beginning of the story, but once he gets back into his costume he’s supposed to find his confidence again and be comfortable and strong as he was in the days of yore. He’s a normal guy who knows how to kick some ass (and must therefore look cool kicking ass). And he has to have a bit of a psychological journey and acceptance of his own weird costume-worship to get there. Wilson did this perfectly.
Fuckin’ Awesome – Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach
a. Rorschach’s just cool, so he already had a leg up there.
b. Everyone agrees on this one. He was fucking awesome.
To include another note here, I love that essentially all of the other characters were listed in the credits with a slash – as both their real name and their superhero alter ego. But not Rorschach. Because that is his true self; that is his name. Good job, Zach Snyder, for that detail. It’s all about details. (imdb, you, unfortunately, did not pick up on this)
Feel free to disagree and/or let me know what you think. That’s my opinion. Good night. Stay dry.
And to send us off, here are some other characters you may not have noticed when you saw the film. Perhaps their performances were the most awesome of all. No one will ever know.
Naked Man at Warhol Party (how did we all miss the naked guy???) – Andrew Colthart, Annie Leibovitz (where in the hell was she?) – Salli Saffioti, Mick Jagger (wow, I missed a lot in those very full flashback moments) – Steven Stojkovic, and to the uncredited few, most especially Fulvio Cecere, who played “Backstage handler at Manhattan interview”… just because his character name was that long and his name is Fulvio.