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Watchmen: The End is Nigh

There’s one thing authors must have realized by now – nothing they write is ‘unfilmable’. Take William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch; a novel without a plot, banned for its obscene caricatures, provocative language and vivid references to drug addiction and paranoia. Unfilmable, they said, until the movie some 32 years later. Crash, American Psycho, and most recently Patrick Süskind’s Perfume, the story of a killer with an extraordinary sense of smell, have all made it to the silver screen, for better or (more often than not) for the worse.

32 years. That’s nine more than it’s taken Watchmen. Published in 1986, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel is considered the greatest of all time, and another unfilmable masterpiece. The prototype ‘serious’ comic book, it tears the superhero concept apart, dropping that ideal of good-versus-evil into a world in which nothing is so clear-cut. Fighting under a banner of justice, its masked avengers include a Nazi sympathizer, a rapist, an impotent recluse, and a borderline psychopath. Troubled? Certainly. Dangerous? Definitely. Immoral? That’s where things start to get hazy.

It’s set in an alternate 1986, the Cold War turning hot, the world pushed to the brink of nuclear Armageddon. The rise and celebrity of costumed vigilantes has only made things worse, their fight against crime causing enough collateral damage to have them outlawed by government and loathed by the people. The birth of a true superman, the godlike Dr. Manhattan, has only magnified tensions between Russia and the US. Now the aging heroes are being arrested, exiled and murdered while the world goes to Hell; unhappy coincidence, or dark conspiracy?

Psychological, experimental and thin on the usual kapow and thwack, it’s not exactly a movie begging to be made. But did that stop them? After two decades of failed attempts, the Hollywood version arrives in March. We’ve seen a preview presented by director Zack “300” Snyder at which he explained: “If I hadn’t taken it on, they [Warner Bros] would have asked the next guy who might have done things their way. They were like, ‘Obviously, it can’t be set in 1986, can’t feature Nixon, can’t have sex and violence. It’s a PG-13.” So he put up his dukes and, after “several months of pain”, got the go-ahead for his more mature rendition. To quote the trailer: “rated R for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and language.”

Alan Moore’s had no involvement, of course, his disdain for the movies of From Hell, V For Vendetta and The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman legendary. What we’ve seen of Snyder’s effort is beautiful and evocative, half real like his Dawn of the Dead remake, half virtual like 300. Despite a bad choice of alternate ending and increased action, it’s as faithful a version as you could realistically imagine, swinging to counterculture classics like Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row. But it’s more youthful and virile than the book, translated into a cinematic language and hacked into pieces to be viewed separately on DVD and the web. It upholds Moore’s suspicion: no movie can entirely get it right. And if that’s the case, what chance has the videogame got?

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7 comments

  • Weasel - January 13, 2009 9:20 a.m.

    This actually looks like it could be fun, but I imagine that making it a Watchmen game instead of an original IP will probably turn away alot of people that might otherwise enjoy it. Though it also remains to be seen if it will actually be any good, with it's rather short development time, plus the movie tie-in factor...
  • jakery22 - March 8, 2009 7:55 p.m.

    i think it wuld be a better game if they made it to follow the paths of rorscach and nite owl throung the novel. but thats my personal opinion disagree if you want. :D
  • Prankster09 - March 1, 2009 1:41 p.m.

    dis game is going to rock
  • FancyRat - January 17, 2009 1:39 a.m.

    Bad, bad, bad, bad, BAD! The last thing this movie needs is a shitty beat-em-up tie-in!
  • Jimmyjammy - January 13, 2009 12:47 p.m.

    When you listed Rorschach's ability I read it as "rape", and I was like WTF?!? He's gone all Comedian on our asses! I was really ready to ignore this but it's not sounding incredibly terrible. Seems like they've gone for the safe option which is probably a good idea. Plus: It's episodic, It has the film's voice actors and Motion comic style cutscenes. They're all things that I like, and if gibbons is drawing new art work for the game then that's reason enough to buy it anyway.
  • cart00n - January 13, 2009 11 a.m.

    I actually think this might be a lot of fun. The ten month development time doesn't bother me so much in this case - it IS a Live Arcade game after all - some of the best of them only took a couple months to make! The designers were smart in creating a stripped down brawler about a simpler time in the Watchmen universe. Yet that didn't stop them from getting Gibbons to create some new art (yes!), nor from getting Len Wein to write it! As for Alan Moore, that guy needs to take that giant stick out of his ass - he's made an entire CAREER out of adapting other people's works (Batman, Swamp Thing, A League...) to fit his OWN vision, damning other peoples' attempts to adapt his work just WREAKS of hubris. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this man's work, but he really needs to stop inhaling his own farts...
  • Z-man427 - January 13, 2009 6:58 a.m.

    this does NOT make me happy. as much fun as it would be to go around as Rorschach beating people up, 10 months is nowhere near long enough to build a Watchmen game. The concept of going before the novel is a good one though. i just think they should have had longer and made it stuff that happened in the flashbacks, like when Nite Owl and The Comedian tried to stop the riots at the time of the Keane Act. Although the tenement rescue has fun potential. Evading police during the Keane Act would be cool too I just think they got this wrong and what the hell... first

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