Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Fatal Smile – Watchmen

Honestly, I never read the original comic, or even heard about it before the ad of this movie began to appear everywhere. The first promotion poster appeared in Singapore media (the movie magazine First) shows only a huge “smile” badge, with a drop of blood on it. Back then I know nothing about the Comedian, so the first thing came to my mind is “Murder in Carrefour”… (Employees in Carrefour here sometimes will wear that badge to show their commitment to “smiley service”.)

It was said that this comic was too complicated to be filmed. Although it was finally filmed after more than 20 yrs, the movie itself IS very complicated. From 1940’s to 1985, including so many big event in the world like WWII, Vietnam War, Nixon all the way to the Afghan crisis, plus the love affairs, mid-life crisis, friendship, etc. of the Minutemen, -- this is not an easy job for any director.

The beginning is actually pretty good: the 300 style of slow motion and hardcore fighting for the death of the Comedian, and the “flash back” of those important incidents happened from 1940 to 1985. My personal favorite is the “remake” of the “V Day Kiss”. But when the storyline spreads out, it seems that the director doesn’t want to (or dare to?) discard any detail from the comic. Too many names and stories keep popping up from ppl’s memory, so sometimes it even looks a bit messy. And the total length of the movie is, naturally, very long, -- 2 hrs 45 min according to my watch.

To prevent ppl from leaving the cinema in the middle of the movie, the director shows you some bloody or sexy or both bloody and sexy scenes almost every 15 min. Whether these scenes are really necessary, or really necessary to make them like that, is arguable to me. Anyway finally the movie got a M18 rate in Singapore.

Compare to those bloody and sexy scenes, the fighting scenes are not that cheering up. Although the previous 300 is a whole hardcore stuff, this Watchmen looks like a 1980’s Hollywood style of stunt most of the time. Come on, where are those Hong Kong guys?!

Due to the long-term lawsuit around the copyright issue, the cast had almost “traveled around” all stars of Hollywood. Finally the selection was a surprisingly B-class group. Maybe the production company wanted to save more money for the special effects? Fortunately the special effects did a pretty good job, especially the Dr. Manhattan’s “blue ray” body. The fact that the actors didn’t have the burden of fame might actually do sth good for the movie: So they could act as actors, not stars. The almost only leading actress, Silk Spectre II, was not quite exciting on the contrary, except for her sexy body.

The ending is the best part of the whole movie. A trillion-dollar question was raised: Is it correct to sacrifice millions of ppl’s lives to save billions’? If the number is just 15, 150, or even 1500, I believe that most ppl will answer “YES!” without hesitation (remember United 93?). But when this number turns to 15 millions, I don’t think that anyone can give an answer that easily. And the worst thing is, you even need to protect the “bad guy” behind the scheme, cuz if he is exposed, the whole world will be back to war again. It’s really cruel that a “good guy” has to die to keep this secret. That reminds me the old “hara-kiri” tradition in Japan: Sometimes you need to kill yourself (or let someone help you with that) to protect certain things like justice, dignity, etc. Although it seems to be a “happy ending” in the end, I don’t think anyone really feels happy when stepping out of the cinema.

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