Thursday, March 05, 2009

blue with anticipation

So the numbers are coming in about the movie and I sorta hoped for better. What is mostly mind-blowing is the discrepancy in the numbers between Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

I don't usually associate with Metacritic. Maybe it always grades down. 15 points may not be much of a difference, but when J.R. told me a couple of days ago that the reviews were pretty rough going in the reports were 75 on Rotten Tomatoes and 30 on Metacritic. 30.

That's not too hard to believe considering that Metacritic highlighted the review of esteemed Anthony Lane of The New Yorker. I didn't read the review in its entirety (fear of spoilers -- and yeah, I know I read the graphic novel three times -- I still haven't seen the screen interpretation of said graphic novel), but here's how it ends:

I'm not even sure where to start with this. It's not like Watchmen was ever a comic strip. It was, I suppose, a comic book -- but even the highest educated snob in the nation ought to know that 90% of comic books aren't actually comedy. Not that I should compare Watchmen to Shakespeare or anything, but can you really justify hating Hamlet if you say "Where did the comedy go?" as the play finishes?

Perhaps getting in the right frame of mind helps. Joe disliked the book. The first thing he said to me was "there was not one redeeming character in the whole thing." For the most part I agree, but where he found annoyance, I found pleasure. Perhaps I'm morose, melancholy and morbid; but I've always gotten a bigger kick out of the antagonism in the arts and entertainment I subject myself to. I take more out of peoples' failures than successes. Maybe that's why The Old Testament is so wicked fun. Negative conditioning works better for me.

So a few years ago I read a story where the superheroes are failures. I can see why anyone would have a hard time enjoying that. The trick of course, is to distinguish what the message is. Is the message that superheroes are dead and therefore heroism is dead and the world is stuck in relentless entropy? It may be easy to think. In my own warped way I find stories such as these incredibly optimistic. The world may very well have no one to depend on, so that's where we come in. The world very well may have ended 30 minutes ago. Is it time to give up now? For most people -- for most heroes -- it would be. Watchmen spells it out. But is it right? Nope. The answer isn't given, but the question is asked... and answered rhetorically.

So sorry Anthony Lane. I love comedies and I love happy endings, but they have little value without tragedy.

My hope for the movie has picked up a little. Since I grabbed the Metacritic image several hours ago the critical praise has shot up to like 54. This week marks my first association with Metacritic and I'm not sure I'll continue. Among the new critics coming in is of course is Roger Ebert's high praise. The guy tends to go all over the place though -- especially with superhero movies. One reason I like reading his stuff is because he personalizes his experience a lot more than most.

Also, Maxim finally broke the three-time streak of people I gave my copy of Watchmen to who hated it.

So now it's a party. About 20 of my friends are going and my birthday celebration that started last week, comes to a close in about 40 hours. Even Joe is excited. This can only mean one thing: I'll hate the movie.

David Edelstein from New York Magazine makes a much better point.

Way too many people complain when movies diverge from the source material. I have the opposite complaint. If there's no difference between book and movie, what's the point of the movie? Where's the new life? Are we creating or are we Xeroxing? Anyway, good point David.

*sigh* I'll be doing the same thing when Ender's Game finally comes out. In the meantime...


Blogger Maria said...

Hey- if anything, you will at least appreciate the amazing imagery and the fact that they seemed to put a lot of work into matching the imagery to the novel.

I'm going to have nightmares about that last picture.

March 05, 2009 8:10 AM  
Blogger jaime said...

Hahaha!! That last pic is great! Jon, just so you know I didn't hate the book...I didn't love it either. I think it's cause I went into it with an X-men type comic attitude. Honestly I was surprised by how adult some of the content was and I thought the ending was a little cheesy. I'm not going to the theater with you guys (cause i don't wanna spend $12 bones on a ticket), but I will for sure be seeing it soon. I think it will make for an interesting movie.

March 05, 2009 8:44 AM  
Blogger Rhett said...

I really liked Anthony Lane's comment. Except for his erroneous reference to it being a comic book, he's right. The irony is that what he intending to say and how I'm interrupting his review are totally different. And that, I think, is actually the point of the Watchmen.

March 05, 2009 9:29 AM  
Blogger Steph said...

That picture of you as the woman character is going to give me nightmares.

P.S. is there a website or something you use to put your picture on those characters?

March 05, 2009 10:29 AM  
Blogger Average Joe said...

Don't worry about me. I used to be a regular Joe who liked Adam Sandler movies, but since associating so much with Madsen and Maxim (and Mark) over the past year, I have slowly evolved into more of a movie snob. So I dunno if the old Joe or the new Joe will show up to appreciate the movie medium of a story I didn't like in the graffic novel medium.

March 05, 2009 11:42 AM  
Blogger joN. said...

maria- point taken. hard.

jaime- i can think of a lot of reasons to hate the ending of watchmen, but the absolute last word i'd ever use to describe it is cheesy. i'm at a loss.

rhett- point taken. send it to mr. lane.

steph- as far as i know there is no website. that's all homebrew photoshop elements baby. if you like i can put your face on the silk spectre's body. it would be cheaper than going out and buying a silk spectre costume anyway.

joe- i offer my standard response.

March 05, 2009 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I said in my blog post that one cannot 'unsee' an image - never was that proven true so succintly as the image of you Laurie Jupiter. Well done, and may God forgive us all for viewing it.

March 05, 2009 5:42 PM  
Blogger Maker said...

This post is ridiculous! Boom! Hahaha!
I continue to enjoy how you consistently take bloging to 11.
Most bloggers dream about 7 or 8 and maybe achieve it once.

wv: wermian

March 05, 2009 8:05 PM  
Blogger John Edvalson said...

Jon, that last picture, I have no words, but it was the biggest laugh I had all day. I agree that art doesn't always have to have redeeming characters, but I do appreciate it if they have some depth. I read a review that says the movie pretty much copies the graphic novel panel for panel. I hope you aren't too dissapointed.

March 05, 2009 10:03 PM  
Blogger newby said...

ah, the "new yorker" once again looking down its nose at american culture. an oxford-educated anthro prof made us read the "new yorker" and "the economist" and all that high-falutin' rubbish. i still want the hours back that i wasted analyzing some essayist's esoteric ramblings on riding an elevator with gorbachev...

March 06, 2009 9:04 PM  
Blogger John Edvalson said...

Dang it Jon, no movie review? I may stop reading your blog if you keep me in suspense this long.

March 12, 2009 9:19 PM  

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