The forces of good and evil have amassed at Veidt’s Antarctic lair. Celebrated graphic novelist and creator of Watchmen Alan Moore is buoyed by a rogue’s gallery of principled supporters ready to sneer at anyone who expresses the slightest hint of approval at the new adaptation. We here at Cinema Blend are hanging out on the other side, probably with Nite Owl II and a swarm of other devotees with sensible outlooks on life. This editorial is my preemptive strike, my quick draw against indulgent, misdirected elitism and the rainy day for its own sake. It‘s the first stone cast in the Watchmen civil war. Now, move out of the way while I call the kettle black and piss on the guy who pissed in the pool.
The end may very well be nigh, but by God, I, along with the throng assembled behind me, will shove our villainous opinion down a few more lubed-up gullets before the nukes start fly. You think slandering Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Watchmen will get people to read the graphic novel? This is me whispering no. You think following Alan Moore’s misanthropic, holier-than-thou campaign against his own work is your duty as a fervent supporter of Watchmen? This is me whispering no. I love the brilliant visionary as much as you do, but hiding the cure for cancer in an empty room doesn’t help anyone, even if its wide spread circulation might bring about infuriating side effects. We need to stop bickering amongst ourselves and spitting in the communal pot. Like it or not, Watchmen has been made into a movie and anyone with large enough forceps to remove their own head from their asshole will be able to see the resulting motion picture is very good, not great. It is my hope this OP-ED will be a lighthouse unto Alan Moore’s cynical followers, a wake-up call for those ready to throw Zack Snyder out with the bathwater.
But the book is so much better than the movie…, they will all say. Yeah, I know it is. That’s why it’s a book. By definition it has more space to explore the plot, more space to delve into the subconscious and more space to extricate every last droplet of greatness. Clearly, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s version of The Great Gatsby can’t be touched, Heller’s take on Catch-22 isn’t rivaled by its adaptation, but you know what these underwhelming films did? They convinced otherwise hapless, book-hating shmucks to hit up the novel and give reading a chance. You know how hard it is to make anyone read anything? The average American reads one book a year. One. And that dumbfounding statistic includes The DaVinci Code and Goosebumps and Harry Potter. Fuck us. A book can’t even change the world anymore. How sad is that? I’ll probably hear about the End Times via text message.
But how can I root for a film when its own writer asked his name be removed…, they will all say. That’s easy. You just root for it. Alan Moore is a certifiable badass who worships a snake and chooses to look like the Unabomber because goddamnit he just can. But his grave yard of burned bridges rivals fellow comic scribe Frank Miller’s. A line in the sand doesn’t mean shit when it’s surrounded by hundreds of other lines. And it doesn’t mean shit when it’s petty, pointless and preposterous. Alan Moore wasn’t happy with V For Vendetta because they didn’t use the word fascism once; well, anyone with a wiff of common sense could see that film was about abuses of government power, a message, by the way, the same book-hating viewers wouldn’t have gotten without the adaptation.
But the movie left out several scenes crucial to the graphic novel and totally changed the ending…, they will all say. Check and check. It did both of those things. I’m pissed about it too, but exactly how much longer did you want this almost three hour film to be? Perhaps four hours would have been more your style. It’s not enough the studio went to great lengths to produce Black Freighters and the Hollis Mason backstory, apparently. I guess you needed every single frame in the graphic novel to somehow appear. Well, that’s just foolishness. And you know it. The more the movie catered to obsessive fan boys like us, the more it would have punched its own ticket toward irrelevance. And for the record, that squid-looking martian was obnoxious anyway.
But The Watchmen was my thing and now a bunch of tool boxes I hate are going to start quoting Rorschach…, they will all say. Yeah, that’s annoying. But it’s really more of a sad commentary on our judgmental insecurities than Zack Snyder’s film. We Watchmen fans on the whole are a cultish, rabid anti-social lot, but we can’t let these isolationist preferences cloud the whole point behind the story we all love so much. Fear and retreating with our own won’t solve anything. We’ll only unite against a common enemy. Alan Moore seems willingly to vilify Watchmen. I’d rather the adversary be group think.
But the studio could have done more…, they will all say. Some of you fan boys act like Warner Brothers sold Watchmen’s rights to Keebler who filmed a commercial of Rorschach sucking cookie-flavored elf dick. They did nothing of the sort. They found a director who loved the graphic novel as much as the fans and threw millions at him to make a three-hour R-Rated adaptation faithful to both the graphic novel’s basic tone and story arc. What the hell more were we expecting? Nudity, unspeakable gore, visually stunning shots which seem to have been lifted directly from Dave Gibbons’ art all permiate Snyder’s Watchmen. How could that possibly be worse than not having a film at all?
This is me whispering yes with my poisonous pen of tolerance. This is me flicking off Alan Moore with my optimism and betrayal. Of all people, he should know someone needs to watch the man zealously guarding his ideals.