Betsy Speicher

Watchmen

Rate this book   9 votes

  1. 1. Rate this book

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      2
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26 posts in this topic

I give it an 8. Technically, it would be a 10, and the characters are deep and well built. Philosophically, there are some major, major flaws, and a few redeeming qualities.

One thing to keep in mind is that Alan Moore is largely an enemy of Objectivism (or more correctly, doesn't understand it one bit). The character Rorschach, a quasi-psychopath, is allegedly an "objectivist", per Moore. I put that under quote marks because what he calls objectivism has obviously nothing to do with the philosophy of Ayn Rand. From Wikipedia:

Alan Moore created Rorschach as a logical extension of Steve Ditko's characters like Mister A and The Question, both of which follow Ayn Rand's personal philosophy, Objectivism.

Moore once said about Ayn Rand's Objectivism: "I have to say I found Ayn Rand's philosophy laughable. It was a 'white supremacist dreams of the master race,' burnt in an early-20th century form. Her ideas didn't really appeal to me, but they seemed to be the kind of ideas that people would espouse, people who might secretly believe themselves to be part of the elite, and not part of the excluded majority."

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I read Watchmen about a year ago. It was only the second graphic novel I'd ever read, the first being V for Vendetta. The story has multiple subplots (and even a parallel storyline that takes place within a comic book a minor character in the story is reading--a comic book within a comic book), levels of meaning, recurrent symbolism, and is quite masterfully tied together by the end. In these respects, I thought it was the product of a highly intelligent mind. However, it definitely projects a malevolent universe and virtually every character is an anti-hero. I don't know if it was Moore's intent to destroy the concept of heroism, but that's what came through to me.

I haven't decided whether I will see the movie or not. I believe Zack Snyder will do an excellent job translating it to the big screen, and the trailer already looks very good. However, I'm just not sure if it's something I care to watch given what I know of the plot.

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I read Watchmen about a year ago. It was only the second graphic novel I'd ever read, the first being V for Vendetta. The story has multiple subplots (and even a parallel storyline that takes place within a comic book a minor character in the story is reading--a comic book within a comic book), levels of meaning, recurrent symbolism, and is quite masterfully tied together by the end. In these respects, I thought it was the product of a highly intelligent mind. However, it definitely projects a malevolent universe and virtually every character is an anti-hero. I don't know if it was Moore's intent to destroy the concept of heroism, but that's what came through to me.

Warning: There are spoilers about this book in this post.

I think that might have been the intention (or it might have been for the sake of originality, I don’t know.) One thing that helps the “originality” theory is that the “villain” wins at the end (and before the monologue!)

Everything in the story runs against the current of the time. Even the villain is not really traditional for the genre.

But I think one of the themes is that Heroism is not truly possible because we work from imperfect information; here’s why:

The “story-within-a-story” that you mentioned is a good example. The seamen escapes the island and eventually makes it back home, except he does bad things, (mostly) on accident, and finds that he has lost his home forever.

Another example is a major event for the character Rorschach. He finds a criminal, who he learns has killed a small girl and fed her to his dogs; he then kills the dogs, and burns the criminal to death. Except you don’t know if the guy was guilty of anything; Rorschach makes conclusions on imperfect evidence. He sees a piece of cloth that could have belonged to a girl (but he was in a old clothing shop); he sees a meat cleaver (which could be used for cooking); and dogs wrestling with what looks like a human femur (which could belong to any animal); the “criminal” says some things that could have been construed as guilty (“you can’t prove anything”), but you don’t fully know, and neither does Rorschach.

This and several other things lead me to believe that Moore was trying to show that Heroism is metaphysically improbable; that for all our good intentions, we work form fractured information; and achieve fractured results.

(Of course, this is just a personal theory of mine.)

I haven't decided whether I will see the movie or not. I believe Zack Snyder will do an excellent job translating it to the big screen, and the trailer already looks very good. However, I'm just not sure if it's something I care to watch given what I know of the plot.

I’m hesitant as well, but the movie is doing something right: its taking chances.

I like a movie that takes some chances, and doesn’t play it safe with reused themes and characters (G.I.Joe looks like a movie that will embrace cowardice, and ultimately be unmemorable.) I didn’t like a great deal of Watchmen, but it kept me interested and was masterfully done.

I'll probably see the movie, dispite its flaws.

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This and several other things lead me to believe that Moore was trying to show that Heroism is metaphysically improbable; that for all our good intentions, we work form fractured information; and achieve fractured results.

Correction:

I meant epistemologically impossible.

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Warning: There are spoilers about this book in this post.

But I think one of the themes is that Heroism is not truly possible because we work from imperfect information; here’s why:

The “story-within-a-story” that you mentioned is a good example. The seamen escapes the island and eventually makes it back home, except he does bad things, (mostly) on accident, and finds that he has lost his home forever.

Another example is a major event for the character Rorschach. He finds a criminal, who he learns has killed a small girl and fed her to his dogs; he then kills the dogs, and burns the criminal to death. Except you don’t know if the guy was guilty of anything; Rorschach makes conclusions on imperfect evidence. He sees a piece of cloth that could have belonged to a girl (but he was in a old clothing shop); he sees a meat cleaver (which could be used for cooking); and dogs wrestling with what looks like a human femur (which could belong to any animal); the “criminal” says some things that could have been construed as guilty (“you can’t prove anything”), but you don’t fully know, and neither does Rorschach.

This and several other things lead me to believe that Moore was trying to show that Heroism is metaphysically improbable; that for all our good intentions, we work form fractured information; and achieve fractured results.

(Of course, this is just a personal theory of mine.)

You could be right. However, isn't this a form of the malevolent universe premise? It seems like just another way of saying reason is impotent and those who set out to achieve justice end up causing harm. In fact, all the "heroes," especially Rorschach, have real psychological problems, which calls into question the real motives behind their pursuit of justice.

I’m hesitant as well, but the movie is doing something right: its taking chances.

I like a movie that takes some chances, and doesn’t play it safe with reused themes and characters (G.I.Joe looks like a movie that will embrace cowardice, and ultimately be unmemorable.) I didn’t like a great deal of Watchmen, but it kept me interested and was masterfully done.

I'll probably see the movie, dispite its flaws.

By taking chances do you mean that the fact the movie is being made at all is taking a chance or that there will be something in the movie that takes an even greater chance than the original graphic novel? By the way, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you here. I thought the movie "V for Vendetta" took a lot of chances and was extremely good. I'm just curious what you mean about Watchmen in this regard.

There's a fair chance I'll see it, too, but we'll see.

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Warning: There are spoilers about this book in this post.

You could be right. However, isn't this a form of the malevolent universe premise? It seems like just another way of saying reason is impotent and those who set out to achieve justice end up causing harm. In fact, all the "heroes," especially Rorschach, have real psychological problems, which calls into question the real motives behind their pursuit of justice.

Yeah, perhaps it’s just the type of stories Moore writes; but ‘malevolence’ would be a good way to describe them. Read League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell, or Moore’s Swamp Thing, and you can get a good example of this.

I’m hesitant as well, but the movie is doing something right: its taking chances.

I like a movie that takes some chances, and doesn’t play it safe with reused themes and characters (G.I.Joe looks like a movie that will embrace cowardice, and ultimately be unmemorable.) I didn’t like a great deal of Watchmen, but it kept me interested and was masterfully done.

I'll probably see the movie, dispite its flaws.

By taking chances do you mean that the fact the movie is being made at all is taking a chance or that there will be something in the movie that takes an even greater chance than the original graphic novel? By the way, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you here. I thought the movie "V for Vendetta" took a lot of chances and was extremely good. I'm just curious what you mean about Watchmen in this regard.

There's a fair chance I'll see it, too, but we'll see.

Probably both, but mostly the first. The story by itself is provocative, and likely to offend a bunch of people (not to mention that the filmakers don't know how people will respond to the movie); but it has been over twenty year’s sense the publication, the world has changed, and I’m sure they are looking into ways to make the themes and story more relevant to today (which they did, to some extent, in 300.)

Take this for example; in the trailer, when the ship breaks through the water you get a night view of New York, and there in the skyline is the World Trade Towers (the story is set in 1985); this at a time when filmmakers are editing their films so there is no reference of them. This is not the filmmaking of cowards.

Of course, I could be wrong on all this. :)

- Ryan

P.S. – I agree about V for Vendetta; a movie about a “Terrorist” that was fighting a government that was fighting for “freedom” (and the quotation marks are deserved.) That’s brave filmmaking, and it was more memorable for it.

They could have made a movie about a group of people fighting Nazi’s or Drug-dealers or businessmen or some other unpopular group; but they didn’t.

P.P.S. – As for an example of a “cowardly” movie, look no further then the soon-to-be-released G.I.JOE movie; it just seems to be one compromise after another.

First, they make it for G.I.JOE is no longer an American team, but an “international fighting force” because the filmmakers thought a movie with a pro-American military stance was “to controversial” for this day and age.

Then, I learn about one of the main villains of the film; and evil cooperation that incites violence around the world and then sells weapons; beyond being anti-capitalist; its Boring and Cliché.

Nothing seems to distinguish his movie from the rest of the genre. Unlike movies like The Dark Knight and V for Vendetta; it doesn’t seem to be trying anything new. Though it has not been released, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt (sort of B) )

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Warning; Big Fat Spoilers, Don’t Read

You could be right. However, isn't this a form of the malevolent universe premise? It seems like just another way of saying reason is impotent and those who set out to achieve justice end up causing harm. In fact, all the "heroes," especially Rorschach, have real psychological problems, which calls into question the real motives behind their pursuit of justice.

In thinking about it further; the ‘intentions’ and ‘psychology’ of the characters played a huge part in the story; probably more then the ‘epistemological impossibility of heroism’ that I mentioned.

Thinking back on the characters; none of them seemed to have ‘pure’ intentions. The Comedian is a bitter psychopath; other characters do it because of fame; and one character mentions that he feels ‘impotent’ without the mask on. I can’t think of a single character that wore a mask simply for love of justice (except for perhaps one, but he seemed to be motivated by frustration and anger.)

Interesting, thanks for mentioning that, I’ll have to think on this further.

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I just finished reading this. I will see the movie, but this doesn't hold a candle to Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns or 300.

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I just read it and was impressed. It is definitely the work of a dedicated, intelligent mind. It amazes me how many layers and details there are in the story.

However, as has been said, it is very malevolent, so if that's not your cup of tea, be forewarned.

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I have not read the comic book, but I have seen the movie. And I do not know if the movie will get put up for rating, and if it does not it will not bother me. I thought the movie was terrible and thought about walking out half a dozen times within the almost three hour long movie. In as few words as it takes to describe this movie (and not get my post deleted), it was awful. It is not because of the blood and guts as I can handle all that. It is the story itself as it is a big spit in the face of man as there is not a good one among them.

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I have not read the comic book, but I have seen the movie. And I do not know if the movie will get put up for rating, and if it does not it will not bother me. I thought the movie was terrible and thought about walking out half a dozen times within the almost three hour long movie. In as few words as it takes to describe this movie (and not get my post deleted), it was awful. It is not because of the blood and guts as I can handle all that. It is the story itself as it is a big spit in the face of man as there is not a good one among them.

The book is largely like that.

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I have not read the comic book, but I have seen the movie. And I do not know if the movie will get put up for rating, and if it does not it will not bother me. I thought the movie was terrible and thought about walking out half a dozen times within the almost three hour long movie. In as few words as it takes to describe this movie (and not get my post deleted), it was awful. It is not because of the blood and guts as I can handle all that. It is the story itself as it is a big spit in the face of man as there is not a good one among them.

The book is largely like that.

I'd forgotten about this thread. Thanks, Ray, I'd thought about seeing this movie, but now I will not.

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I don't plan on seeing the movie, but if I could ask, what are the prominent negative qualities that the men possess that make it so unwatchable: incompetence, hypocrisy, cynicism, sheer malevolence, pettiness, what?

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There are spoilers in this post.

Kurt,

Try and imagine a world full of technological advancements that is contrasted by the dregs as being normal. And for the most part even the heroes are dregs. The only thing that some of the heroes seem to be fighting for is world peace, without principles. Capitalist are seen as "Nazi pigs" that are willing to compromise as long as they can make a dollar. And means do not matter as long as the end is achieved.

A quick glimpse of just one scene might give you an idea of why I think it is an awful movie. There are riots going on in a major city of the United States (maybe New York) and the Watchmen are sent out to quite the crowd. While hovering over the crowd in their ship a rioter throws something at one of the heroes named Comedian. Comedian states something like, "thats the way you want to have it" and then jumps down into the crowd and starts firing his gun at anyone that gets in his way. Another Watchmen jumps out of the ship and yells at Comedian to stop. This same Watchmen is miffed at Comedian's actions and rhetorically ask, "what happened to the American dream?" Comedian states, "it came true." The whole word is in chaos, killing, robbing, looting, pornography all over, and more which all seems to be accepted as normal in this worst of all worlds.

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I have not read the comic book, but I have seen the movie. And I do not know if the movie will get put up for rating, and if it does not it will not bother me. I thought the movie was terrible and thought about walking out half a dozen times within the almost three hour long movie. In as few words as it takes to describe this movie (and not get my post deleted), it was awful. It is not because of the blood and guts as I can handle all that. It is the story itself as it is a big spit in the face of man as there is not a good one among them.

Thanks for letting us know your experience, Ray. This is one of the reasons I haven't been sure whether to see it or not, and I still don't know. If I did it would be primarily to see how Zack Snyder translated the book into the movie, which has me curious. I think I could tolerate the malevolence because I know what to expect going in. My evaluation of it would probably rest on the translation to the big screen and other aspects such as acting, CGI, etc.

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Phil, Kurt and Scott, you are welcome.

Scott, I look forward to reading your evaluation of the movie, if you see it.

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I went to see it yesterday, and I really liked it. Yes, it isn't an heroic movie, and some of the characters are completely malevolent (the Comedian, in particular). This is true to the comic book. The movie is in my opinion technically very good, and they went out of their way to follow very closely some of the key moments of the comic book. There's a fair deal of blood and violence, sometimes not necessary in my opinion - but again to be true to the book's atmosphere, some of this was unavoidable.

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What did you like about it?

The technical aspects of the movie both in terms of picture and storytelling, the well tied scenario, the fact that it was largely true to the comic-books, ...

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I have not read the comic book, but I have seen the movie. And I do not know if the movie will get put up for rating, and if it does not it will not bother me. I thought the movie was terrible and thought about walking out half a dozen times within the almost three hour long movie. In as few words as it takes to describe this movie (and not get my post deleted), it was awful. It is not because of the blood and guts as I can handle all that. It is the story itself as it is a big spit in the face of man as there is not a good one among them.

Thanks for letting us know your experience, Ray. This is one of the reasons I haven't been sure whether to see it or not, and I still don't know. If I did it would be primarily to see how Zack Snyder translated the book into the movie, which has me curious. I think I could tolerate the malevolence because I know what to expect going in. My evaluation of it would probably rest on the translation to the big screen and other aspects such as acting, CGI, etc.

The atmosphere and storyline were terrible, with the only sympathetic character (sympathetic because of his commitment to justice) murdered in cold blood, blood splattered all over the screen in the most inartful excess.

The dialogue was terrible. The lines were ponderous and pretentiously "weighty." Save for the actor playing Rorschach, the acting was wooden. The "murder mystery" was uninvolving since the "victim" had been a monster.

The early frames were visually interesting, but this only lasted for about the first hour. The rest of the film was unexceptional in comparison to 300. The physics of the universe were unclear: were they heroes with superpowers or just regular people with extraordinary fighting skills?

I failed to see the "genius" of the story. Maybe the movie was a poor realization of the graphic novel and the series, but there didn't seem that much to salvage.

It was B-movie trash.

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What did you like about it?

The technical aspects of the movie both in terms of picture and storytelling, the well tied scenario, the fact that it was largely true to the comic-books, ...

I liked the movie for the same reasons. It is a well-made movie. The sense of life is not my own, and the problems of the story from the book carry over into the movie. The most admirable actions are those of Rorschach, who is after the truth at all costs and is unwilling to compromise.

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What did you like about it?

The technical aspects of the movie both in terms of picture and storytelling, the well tied scenario, the fact that it was largely true to the comic-books, ...

I liked the movie for the same reasons. It is a well-made movie. The sense of life is not my own, and the problems of the story from the book carry over into the movie. The most admirable actions are those of Rorschach, who is after the truth at all costs and is unwilling to compromise.

Agree. I bought my tickets a week in advance for an IMAX showing and it was fantastic. I was very impressed with how true to the source it stayed. I look forward to seeing the DVD directors cut, which will also have 'The Black Freighter' as an extra. I thought they did a great job with Dr Manhatten beginnings. While I was in line to get into the theater I re-read that part of the book so it would be fresh in my mind.

I went with a couple friends, one who had read the novel as well, and one who did not. I was surprised that the one who hadnt read it still enjoyed it because I thought it the movie could easily go over ones head. I honestly don't know how well the movie is going to do economically because of its dark nature but I saw that it did $55.7 million this weekend. It'll be interesting to see how the numbers are next weekend.

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