Saturday, April 04, 2009

COG page 3

I hope you enjoyed the (somewhat) stylistic reminiscence of my encounter with Foz. Just to be clear, I was waiting on the sidewalk like some sort of cheap whore for Foz to rock up. WE did zip around a corner, exchange goods and then dump me unceremoniously out the door of his car. It was so quick the real Jim Martin was like, "When are you off to meet Foz?"

And I was like, "I've already been!"

After my incredibly sketchy and hasty encounter with the Fozster on Sunset Boulevard I sat down to watch the dvd with episode 21 on it. I hate watching stuff out of order and ahead. It just spoils stuff for me. You've seen the episode now, but I was back at Ollie's episode 19 at the time. So watching it I knew how the Danko/Sylar thing would work out

I've really enjoyed going through the forum posts on 9th Wonders and I thought I'd help answer some questions.

1. The Title: People were confused by the capitlisation of the word COG insinuating that it may be an acronym. The title on the top of my script is "COG (or…”Cogs Are People Too”)". I think the capitalisation is stylistic and Foz's choice.

2. The character of Jim Martin is named after the writer of the same name. I dearly hope that's the furthest the comparison between the two goes. Finding out my drinking buddy's some "personality chameleon shape shifter" would be a little unsettling... but endlessly amusing.

4. The "waaaah, waaaahhh" sound effects are by Foz. They are to indicate the alarm on the phone. Now that it got changed to a video message, they maybe should have changed it to a "beep beep". You can also see on my last layouts how I tried to communicate this. I wanted his dream to fade and be intruded by reality.

QUICK THOUGHTS

Panel 1 took freaking forever for some reason.

Panel 2: the cameos are both coincidental and meaningful.

Panel 4: Annette did a great job on the shaving cream. I was so worried it would look like a tumorous growth on his face.

*******

Just a quick aside on Watchmen. I finally got to see this last night and enjoyed the hell out of it. The big questions I get from a lot of people is, "Is it better than the comic?"

Is it more entertaining than the comic? Absolutely. But the comic's sheer daunting and experimental brilliance makes for a tough read that affects its entertainment value. But I think that true art needs to be evaluated on more than just an entertainment level. And if I have to discuss with you whether Watchmen is True Art or not... well, then we're never going to agree. I suggest you move onto another blog and save yourself a bunch of trouble because convincing me otherwise would be like trying to convince me that Superman is less than totally awesome and that protein powder doesn't makes everything better - basically it's a belief so fundamental to me that it's bordering on irrational.

So is the film "better" than the comics? Quite simply, I put it this way. If Watchmen: the film challenges and contributes to the medium of film in the same way or better than Watchmen: the comic did for the medium of comics, then it is as good, if not better.

While I place Watchmen: the comic on this incredibly high pedestal, I would rarely recommend it to anyone who wasn't anything but the most hardcore fan of comics. War and Peace may be the greatest piece of English literature... But it doesn't mean you really want to read it. If you just want to be entertained, stick to the film. If you want to be challenged, or need to convince someone that comics aren't just for kids, go read the comic.

UNUSUAL WATCHMEN TRIVIA:

Unsubstantiated: I could be wrong about this as I saw this movie a long time ago... But in Back to the Future 2 when Marty spots the playbook that ruins the timeline in the shop window, there is also a copy of Hollis Mason's UNDER THE HOOD.

Substantiated: This occurs in the actual issue, but I'm not sure if all later collections of the graphic novel got it right... The Rorscharch issue is actually structured like a Rorscharch test. All the panel layouts mirror themselves on their opposing pages. For example, let's assume the middle pages are 11 and 12 (I can't remember how many pages it is), but their layouts would be the same. So would 10 and 13, 9 and 14 and so on. Brilliant.

NEXT POST: Thoughts on page 4 on Monday. Have yourself a great weekend!

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7 comments:

Jordan said...

Holy crap, you're right! I just checked the Rorschach chapter ("Fearful Symmetry," at first I thought it was "The Abyss Gazes Also" which isn't all symmetrical), and you're right! That's both incredibly trippy and ingenious!

Jordan said...

By the way, the middle pages are 14 and 15 :)

Alexandre Togeiro said...

Panel 1 rocks!!! Facial expressions, poses, scenario, everything! Taking forever to do it paid off :) I couldn't agree more about Watchmen - words of wisdom when you talk about these art matters, really. And hey nice trivia too :)

Max said...

No dice on Under The Hood being in the antique store, that'd would've been a great nod from Zemeckis though.

Anonymous said...

To sum it up, Zack Snyder, the screenwriters and the Paramount Studio execs did a great disservice to the Watchmen story. I can understand why Alan Moore didn't want his name in the opening and end credits of this sad film.

I was greatly disappointed by this film based purely on the fact that it was not faithful to the source material. On the outside, yes, visually it succeeded, but delving further and absorbing what was suppose to be the best take on superheroes ever told, the film adaptation failed to deliver on many levels, imho and watching it was a joke in itself because it felt like going through the motions (maybe because of the fact that I just finished reading the source material two hours earlier) left me baffled with only the popcorn to soften my woes of what I expected to be a great movie. The funny thing is I'm not an Alan Moore fan, heck, I didn't really think Watchmen, the graphic novel, was the greatest piece of superhero fiction ever written yet I was confused and deeply disappointed that a source material like this was skewered to bits. I noticed a few people walked out when I watched it in the cinemas and really, I don't blame them. For one, the screenwriters who penned this awful adaptation, completely changed the motivations, intentions and behaviors of some of the major characters, which I couldn't believe they did after public reassurances from the director that this was going to be a faithful adaptation of the celebrated graphic novel. So what do I mean about all these changes. Let me explain... Okay, the opening credits scene, okay. Didn't have a problem with that except in the overall scheme of things, it took more screen time than necessary and added stuff to shock audiences for 'shock-values' sake. (eg the Silhouette kissing her lover in the street when the war was won, now I didn't mind that nor did I care for it but it felt like it was done purely for the sake of shocking people, sure it was great for The Silhouette to have some screentime, albeit limited but was it necessary just to prove a point? it felt like the producers were trying too hard with this. Although, they would argue that it was necessary because it was in-sync with the song and theme The Times are Changing).

Okay, now the opening scene of The Comedian duking it out with the unknown assassin. Two things come to my mind. One, the lighting was shoddy, so bad you could see the face of who the killer was, left me shaking my head, and two, too many slo-mo Matrix choreography like moments. In fact, this type of choreography extends throughout the film and was very annoying and almost yawn-inducing. I mean how many times do we have to watch this type of choreography being used in these so called big-budget movies? I think its great that murder/fight scene was extended more than what was shown in the comic but honestly, I think it would have been better to keep it short and sweet to allow for more screen time for other characters, this point I'll elaborate more on as we go on in this review.

This movie felt low budget to me, it was a feeling I couldn't shake. The make-up was bad. Even Back to the Future II's make-up surpasses Watchmen in this department and that film was made 20 years ago! Honestly, Sally Jupiter's make-up was so fake, you could really tell not enough money/time was spent on it and it shows. And the Comedian's, maybe I'm just picky but his makeup, particularly the scar, seemed very minimal, I expected it to be more grotesque than it was. Visually, costume and prop wise, that was done perfectly, that I applaud the efforts of those producers and artists who translated what was in the graphic novel into reality. In fact, sadly enough, that's the only thing I liked about the film.

Okay, now on with what I had the most beef with - the plot and characters...

Hollis Mason, he should have had a more prominent role in the story. No question about it. They definitely pissed away this opportunity. Heck, even President Nixon got more screentime than him! Jerks! Though I'm wondering if the producers intentionally left him out for the majority of screentime so that he could come back for a sequel. Hey, its possible, you never know when Hollywood wants to milk a good thing dry... No explanation as to why his murder was left out of the story or whether or not the Katie Punks were revealed to be behind the death of Hollis. You know, on a sidenote, I expected the film to show Nite Owl talk to one of the punks in the bar scene after breaking out Rorschach, actually if memory serves me correctly, he did approach him but it was quickly cut back to Rorschach talking to the other guy. Maybe it will end up on dvd? Because it felt like there would have been some dialogue between those two. But gosh, I was so disappointed not to mentioned irritated when they didn't show NiteOwl interrogate the punk.

Laurie Jupiter or is that Ms Juspeczyk? Say that last name ten times fast! I can understand why her surname was not mentioned in the film at all. Or was it? Anyways, they completely changed the character. In the novel, she was an angry, tough-as-nails gal with alot of emotional baggage who would snap at anybody who lacked a morality in conscience but in the film I didn't get that at all. I don't blame Malin Ackerman's performance. She was top-notch. The character she portrayed in the film was somewhat sweet and sappy. I squarely blame the director's direction on this. But my complaint about this isn't even the start. What I find fault is is the fact they left out key sequences in relation to Laurie's backstory and replaced them with a reason that SIGNIFICANTLY reduced the impact of the revelation of who Laurie's real father was which baffled me to no end and left me questioning as I left the theater as to why the filmmakers chose a different route instead of telling Alan Moore's version. What's that saying? It if ain't broke don't fix it? So much for being faithful to Time Magazine's Top 100 celebrated novels of all time...

I believe the studio executives dictated this reasoning as they probably thought the issue of a child born out of rape was too much of a political hot-potato for the audience to handle deeming it too sensitive of an issue to explain. [Sidenote:Speaking of hot-potatoes. Who here was expecting the Comedian to deliver that one-potato two potato line? God, was that disappointing! In the film the Comedian starts getting aggressive and flexing his authority without getting provoked! Yes, it was cool he jumped off Archie to confront the rioters but that coolness was reduced when the motivation behind that jump was changed and not told in the way it should have been.]

Another thing, I can't believe they left out the sugarcubes! What were they thinking? Not capturing Rorschach eating sugarcubes, what a travesty! :P But really, this of course was very convenient for the director to avoiding filming (probably due to budget constraints) the police raid on Dan Dreiberg's residence which was a shame really, as it would have been nice to see before the raid the screentime detective Steve would have had with Dan.
Key sequences like this really help out to establish the story such as Watchmen, you know I was expecting newsreels to further elaborate on the backstory of some of the characters even towards the end credits but no, we need more action, more sex as the studio execs dictate. I can understand not filming the Bernard kid reading the Pirate comic (or the newsstand seller lamenting about the world) as I imagine it would taken up unnecessary screen time and for me personally as I was reading the novel, I found it - the Tales of the Black Freighter - not really serving the purpose of the novel other than to quench Alan Moore's affinity for the all things pirates, establish the rapport between Bernard and the newsstand seller and elaborate on the Pirate comic's author Max Shea and his role in Ozymandias' new utopia plan).

But back to Sally Jupiter's rape. It really disappointed me that in the film, it's implied that Sally's marriage to Laurence Schexnayder is on the rocks and that she goes to Blake for comfort and has an affair. WTF? This, along with the fact that they don't show Laurie confronting Blake about the rape at the honorary dinner scene significantly reduces the impact of the big revelation about Laurie's real father and even then, they messed that up - the novel has Laurie recalling all the past events leading to her realization that Blake is her father, a sequential sequence laid out wonderfully by Dave Gibbons, culminating in her picking up a bottle of Nostalgia and throwing it at the crystal castle that Jon raised from the Martian sands - that imagery of the perfume bottle flying in space in slow motion interweaved with Laurie's potent memories, sticks in my mind vividly - unfortunately, in the film this sequence was scrapped in favor of a ham-fisted version of Laurie just throwing a rock. Fantastic. Makes the importance of the scene between Laurie and Jon on Mars that much more profound, yeah, thanks Mr Snyder. If you remember in that scene Laurie is supposed to convince Jon that humanity is worth saving. The revelation that Laurie was a child born out of rape (is there a term for this?) was suppose to be the deciding factor in Dr Manhattan's decision to save humanity because in the novel it convinces Jon that Laurie is a miracle despite the result of Laurie's birth happening under tragic circumstances, however in the film it dismisses that notion completely and replaces it with a politically correct incongruous reason which really lets the film down. That was the whole point behind the novel. Giving superheroes a sense of realism. The director/screenwriters completely missed the boat on this one. It was one of THE pivotal points in the graphic novel and they totally botched it!

Ugh! More to come...

- Clifford

Alexandre Togeiro said...

Hey Clifford,

Interesting review/rant you got there!

I'd like to point, however, that the Comedian did had a second, consensual sexual relation with the first Silk Spectre.

Check out issue 9, page 7. Shes says there to her husband: "First off, he was THERE, right? Plus, he was GENTLE. You know what gentleness MEANS in a guy like that? Even a glimmer of it?" (letters in caps are bold in the comics text)

And in Issue 12, page 29, where the original Spectre says: "...It was just an afternoon, in summer. He stopped by..."

So while not a full fledged affair, it was a consensual one night stand between them.

I still agree with most of your review, although more research and less rant can make it better - you did point this out as a major let down of the movie. Anyway, to sort of comment your ideas and the movie, I will post the little review I did in my blog:

So the movie is great. Although for me, the graphic novel is still better and a true work of Art, that really impressed me when I read it. I don't want to be polemic - I thought about posting this for a long time - but I do respect Alan Moore ignoring the movie and saying Watchmen's language is specific to comics. Its a bit extremist yes, but I see the man's point. Imagine someone trying to adapt one of his other works, Promethea, to a movie. If you read it, you know what I mean (Well maybe Pete Greenaway could do it). As good as comics movies are, they are still adaptations; and they do conform to a mass entertainment industry. So a V from V for Vendetta does a Matrix style fight in the movie, while in the comics a single cop shoots him down. The movie fight is more fun, but can't say it doesn't change things. And since Alan Moore constantly renews and pushes the boundaries of the comics genre, that makes it hard if not impossible to adapt his works. In the man's own words, found in this interview: "I got into comics because I thought it was a good and useful medium that had not been explored to its fullest potential". And man, did he turn the comics world upside down. Suffice to say Watchmen is considered as one of the top 100 English literature pieces.

To conclude: my suggestion? Watch the movies and be entertained as the rest of the world does. And then read the comic where it came from. With a hot, steaming cup of coffee as Alan Moore says :)

jasonb said...

The biggest thing that Clifford pointed out this the skewed character motivations in the movie. I had to explain to my gf that the original Silk Specter LOVED the Comedian in the comic which counter-balanced the whole rape scenario. That was the biggest one for me, but there were subtle other shifts, and the writing out of Hollis Mason hurt the story.

But the bottle of Nostalgia on Mars really bothers me. I didn't remember it in the comics, and now that I'm reminded of it I find myself incredibly annoyed.

Oh well. It was fun. But as Zach said himself, consider it a 2 hour ad for the comic.

I simply must reread it!