I’m doing a column about it for TCJ, so two viewings were necessary. (Here for my first viewing. Here for Noah’s thoughts on Laurie.) This time I brought a pad and kept notes, mainly of sound effects and camera movements that annoyed me. They’re constant. I’ll put it this way: right before the WOMP!! when Rorshach kicks in a door, you get the two-second sheee-ooom of his foot traveling. Every action in the film gets a sting. Close the kitchen door: Wuhmm! Drop a matchbook on the table: Wunnk! The film cannot communicate a moment in any other way. Pretty soon, if you’re sensitive, you start to feel a bit teary; the nervous system never gets a moment to reknit. At least this time I knew what was coming and could roll with it.
Another example of how everything in the film gets treated the same way: little Rorshach punching the neighborhood kid who was picking on him. Not only does the punch get the same big-sound sting as an adult superhero’s punch, little Rorshach delivers his punch like one of the adults, with the same straight-line trajectory. The punch is treated like a devastator, but the kid is too small to be dangerous in that way. The book’s little Rorshach confined himself to the desperate-clawing-away side of the enterprise, which is far more plausible. The movie includes the clawing away but feels that the clawing most be accompanied by a thunder fist. Any fight, in the movie’s terms, is an encounter involving thunder blows.
Worst casting: I’ll say it again, Matthew Goode as Ozymandias. He doesn’t have the chin or the shoulders, any other considerations aside. Every time he shows up, there’s a hole in the screen.
Nice surprise: Ms. Akerman does a decent job in the dinner scene between Laurie and Dan.
Nicer surprise: Jeffrey Dean Morgan is really quite good as the Comedian. He really swings his Keene riot scene (“The American dream came true”) and his bedside scene with Moloch.
I saw the film at an 8:15 showing on Friday and the place was nearly full up. Counted walkouts by about a dozen people, including a clump of little kids who’d been in the front row and had enough around when Ozymandias was explaining his scheme. The guy sitting next to me really hated the film and made some asides to his companions about “this bullshit.” Once the credits started rolling, people had their coats on and broke for the gates.
Box Office Mojo says that after three weeks Watchmen’s world box office is $161,172,305. Budget was $150 million, so okay. The movie still had a huge second-week dropoff, and it’s not at all a good movie, but I’d rather Watchmen’s film version be sort of a success and not a flop.