Sure, you could do that…if you hate comic books! Don’t you realize it’s your duty not only to go see Watchmen in its first week of release, preferably during its opening weekend, but to also go back and see it again this weekend?
That’s the message of this “Open Letter From a Watchmen Screenwriter” written by David Hayter, which I only exaggerate slightly.
It is, hopefully, someone pretending to be Hayter, saying things for comedic effect, but it sure seems genuine, which is hilarious/depressing. I suggest you go read it in its entirety if you're going to proceed. I'm going to parse it below, but not every single word, so, to be fair to Hayter, you're probably better off reading what he said as he said it first.
The reviews are out -- Some outstanding, others rankly dismissive, which can be frustrating for the people involved, (though I can only speak for myself,) because I firmly believe that WATCHMEN, the novel, must be read through more than once to even have the faintest grip on it. And I believe the film is the same.
In all honesty, I’m sure reading a reviews of any movie you make an be extremely frustrating, given the amount of time and energy one must spend making them (Hayter said he’s been working on it since 2000).
Of course, I’m sure it’s frustrating to everybody who makes any movie, or anybody who works really hard on anything only to see other people not appreciate what they’ve done, or at least not appreciate it in the way or to the extent they would have liked them to.
Hayter’s certainly correct that one needs to read Watchmen the graphic novel (or is he talking about a novelization of the movie?) repeatedly to suck all of the levels of meaning out of it, although “faintest grip” is perhaps overselling how complex it is. It’s definitely overselling the complexity of the infinitely less complex film. Maybe you need to see it repeatedly to get everything that’s there to get about it, although since many of the multiple meanings that might be there are from the graphic novel you’ve already read more than once, that seems kind of unlikely, doesn’t it?
I’ve only seen the film once, but I don’t feel like I don’t even have the “faintest grip” of it. It wasn’t exactly Inland Empire, you know?
I've seen it twice now, and despite having run the movie in my head thousands of times, my two viewings still don’t' allow me to view the film with the proper distance or objectivity. Is it Apocalypse Now? Is it Blade Runner? Is it Kubrick, or Starship Troopers? I don’t know yet.
Again, to be serious for a moment, I’m sure Hayter doesn’t have the proper distance or objectivity to appraise a work he spent eight years of his life intensely involved with.
But man, these are some pretty easy questions. Ask anyone.
Is it Apocalypse Now? No, but it did allude to/homage/shamelessly lift from it at one point.
Is it Blade Runner? No, no it is not Blade Runner.
Is it Kubrick? Ha ha ha ha!
Oh, were you serious? Then no, no it is not Kubrick.
Is it Starship Troopers? Mmm, maybe, if it’s lucky. Both are exceptionally violent and gory for science fiction movies, both are adaptations, both have political messages.
This is a movie made by fans, for fans.
Oh, well there’s your problem right there. Have you ever read, say, fiction made by fans, for fans?
Hundreds of people put in years of their lives to make this movie happen, and every one of them was insanely committed to retaining the integrity of this amazing, epic tale.
Hundreds of people put in years of their lieves to make most studio movies, of course. Granted, a lot of them aren’t always committed to retaining the integrity of their source material.
If the film made you think. Or argue with your friends. If it inspired a debate about the nature of man, or vigilante justice, or the horror of Nixon abolishing term limits. If you laughed at Bowie hanging with Adrian at Studio 54, or the Silhouette kissing that nurse.
Please go see the movie again next weekend.
Oh. Well, this film didn’t do any of those things to me, other than make me think—but mostly about the nature of adaptation and movie-making in general*.
You have to understand, everyone is watching to see how the film will do in its second week. If you care about movies that have a brain, or balls, (and this film's got both, literally), or true adaptations -- And if you're thinking of seeing it again anyway, please go back this weekend, Friday or Saturday night. Demonstrate the power of the fans, because it'll help let the people who pay for these movies know what we'd like to see. Because if it drops off the radar after the first weekend, they will never allow a film like this to be made again.
Hmm, I went to the bathroom during the Rorshach vs. the pedophile scene, did that show him chopping up the guys brains and balls? Because I suppose then there really was literally a brain and balls in the movie. Otherwise, I don’t remember seeing any.
I’m not sure what to make of if the second weekend isn’t boffo, “they will never allow a film like this to be made again” argument.
How is that a bad thing, exactly?
Never another Zack Snyder movie, meaning someone else will have to remake old zombie movies, adapt Frank Miller graphic novels in the style of other directors’ Frank Miller graphic novel adaptations, and use graphic novels as storyboards?
Never another movie based on an Alan Moore written comic, sparing us future LXGs, From Hells or V From Vendettas?
I assume he means one of those two things, because if he simply means movies aimed at adult audiences that are based on graphic novels, well Ghost World, American Splendor, History of Violence, Road To Perdition, Persepolis and 300 all got made okay before this. And it’s not like all of the superhero comics adaptations are aimed at kids these days. Or maybe he just means an R-rated superhero movie? In which case, we won’t see any more superhero movies with ultraviolence and a funny sex scene with them?
Well, I can live with that, I suppose.
And hey, if you hated the film, if you think we committed atrocities, or literary mistakes of a massive, cephalopodic nature. If the movie made you a little sick to your stomach, or made you feel bad about your life. If you hated it for whatever reason, that's cool too. I'm not suggesting you risk gastro-intestinal distress just for the sake of risky filmmaking.
Whew. I'm off the hook then. I didn’t hate it, but I don’t think I’d want to spend another three hours and $5 on it either.
I don’t know that I’d call it “risky,” exactly, since the main risk seemed to be adding a great deal violence to one of the best-selling and best-reviewed comics of all time.
And here’s the classiest part, where he ends by comparing members of the audience to a rape victim in the movie who later has consensual sex with her attempted rapist and has a daughter she loves:
All this time, you’ve been waiting for a director who was going to hit you in the face with this story. To just crack you in the jaw, and then bend you over the pool table with this story. With its utterly raw view of the darkest sides of human nature, expressed through its masks of action and beauty and twisted good intentions. Like a fry-basket full of hot grease in the face. Like the Comedian on the Grassy Knoll. I know, I know...
You say you don't like it. You say you've got issues. I get it.
And yet... You'll be thinking about this film, down the road. It'll nag at you. How it was rough and beautiful. How it went where it wanted to go, and you just hung on. How it was thoughtful and hateful and bleak and hilarious. And for Jackie Earle Haley.
Trust me. You'll come back, eventually. Just like Sally.
Might as well make it count for something.
Yeesh. That bit actually kind of makes me wish I didn’t go see last weekend.
*I'm still putting my thoughts about it together. I'll probably post a ten million word review-ish type thing of the movie here tomorrow night