Monday, February 09, 2009

NYC Comic Con 2009: Watchmen

We were given a sneak peak—the first 18 minutes of the film.
It opens with the Comedian watching TV crosscut with a news countdown to Doomsday and a press conference with President Nixon (an actor in distracting prosthetics). Then the Comedian is murdered to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “Unforgettable” by a scrawny but strong martial-arts-savvy assassin. The fighting is incredibly violent, bolstered by the sound effects. As he’s being thrown through the glass, I started to realize there would be a lot of slow-motion-then-sped-up action for dramatic effect, which I liked. As he plummets to the ground, all I could think was, 'I really want that bloodied smiley-face pin.'

Usually opening credits are really boring and tedious like Quantum of Solace’s silhouetted beach scene. Watchmen has a beautifully choreographed montage of the heroes through the decades. Here's a walk-through of the scenes I saw:
• A shot of a newspaper headline noting Japan’s surrender. Silhouette grabs a nurse in a cheering crowd and kisses her.
• The original Silk Spectre (Carl Gugino from Sin City) gets pregnant, and the Watchmen toast to her retirement.
Nite Owl is dragged into a van by white-suited orderlies who are taking him to an asylum.
• The police find Silhouette dead beside her lover with the words “Lesbian whores” smeared on the walls of her bedroom.
• A young red-headed Rorschach watches a “client” leave his mother’s bedroom.
• JFK shakes Dr. Manhattan’s hand on the White House lawn in front of eager photographers.
• JFK is assassinated and the camera pans towards the killer, revealed to be the Comedian.
Silk Spectre has a heated argument with her husband.
• Two thieves are found tied to a fire hydrant with Rorschach’s symbol lying beside them.
• Castro rubs elbows with a Russian leader as jets fly over them.
• A hippie puts a flower in the muzzle of a police officer's rifle as he stands in line with his fellow officers against a crowd of protesters. When she removes her hand and steps out of frame, the guns go off.
• Andy Warhol shows off portraits of the Watchmen done in his trademark pop art style.
Dr. Manhattan is reflected in the helmet of the first man who walked on the moon.
Ozymandias poses for photos on a busy street, turns around, and shakes David Bowie’s hand.
• The new Watchmen take a group photo with Malin Akerman (Heartbreak Kid and 27 Dresses) as the new Silk Spectre.
• Riots break out in the streets and the camera focuses on a window that's painted with the words, “Who watches the Watchmen?”

The montage ends and we’re brought back to the present at the Comedian’s apartment where detectives are investigating his murder. They start to speculate that the murderer was looking for something. Rorschach appears on the sidewalk below the apartment and starts to narrate. Once the police leave, he enters the Comedian’s apartment through the broken window and finds a secret compartment in the closet that contains the Comedian's costume and weapons. I think it's so cool that the black stains on his cloth face move like a transforming inkblot. Watch this video of Zach Snyder explaining how they created that effect and the different prints that express his emotions.

We were also shown a quick clip of Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley from Little Children) in prison without his costume. An inmate tries to stab him on the lunch line and Rorschach uses his tray to disarm him and bring him to his knees. Instead of walking away victorious, he breaks the food protector glass, pulls the boiling grease tray out and throws it on him. It’s pretty intense, since the prisoner was African American and his skin looked like boiling tar. At the end of the scene, the guards grab Rorschach as he growls, “I’m not locked in her with you! You’re locked in here with me!” I have a feeling I'm going to love Rorschach.

Inside info Dave Gibbons told us:
• There are scenes in the film that aren’t in the graphic novel.
Dr. Manhattan is in fact totally nude.
• At the end of the original script there’s a giant squid involved, and Gibbons assures us that it’s been removed from the ending, and replaced with a different McGuffin.


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