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So (like many of you, I’m sure) I saw Watchmen over the weekend.

I was, on the whole, pleasantly surprised by the adaptation!

The film was decidedly less sophisticated in its psychological engagement with the characters who actually aren’t purely allegorical (i.e. Dan and Laurie). For me, those two characters are the heart of Moore’s book–and Snyder doesn’t handle their story very well. By omitting the coffee serving scene (praised at length in this piece), the film sacrifices the wonderful multivalence of the pair’s sexual reawakening on the owl ship, leaving only the costume-fetish aspect of the supersexual critique intact (whereas the book makes it impossible to disentangle the creepiness of the “power fantasy” from the wide-eyed wonder of altruism as aphrodisiac).

On the other hand–the film’s politics are SO MUCH SMARTER THAN THE BOOK’S! I can’t overstate how pleased I am with Hayter/Tse’s (and Snyder’s?) new ending. Yes, the exploding squid was fun–but it’s a catastrophic failure as a plot device. By converting the now-absent Dr. Manhattan from superhero to Super Ego, Veidt’s plan actually stands a chance of imposing perpetual peace upon the world–and kills America’s sense of a special relationship with “God” with the same stone (whereas the GN’s alien is, at best, a shock treatment that will inevitably wear off). Moreover, the film’s Veidt is leagues beyond Moore and Gibbons’ ranting madman, who, by the end of the book, is absolutely indistinguishable from any other melodrama villain. As played by Goode, Veidt actually seems to feel the cost of his actions, allowing the film to lay bare the calculus of political foundation with a candor that the book (unlike its much-maligned contemporary text, Squadron Supreme) never approaches.

Other good stuff in the film–very quickly: the Dr. Manhattan origin story, the opening montage and Matt Frewer’s Moloch.

It’s definitely worth your time–whether you’ve read the book or not!

good afternoon friends!

Dave

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