A longtime showbiz journalist and fan's thoughts on comic books, movies and other cool stuff.

Month: March 2009 Page 1 of 2

Off the shelf: Alien: The Illustrated Story (1979)

This is one of those books that I’ve really really wanted to read ever since I first heard about it a very long time ago. I mean, how could you not want to read this? It’s got Archie Goodwin, one of the all-time great writers and the guy who wrote the best Star Wars comics ever. And then its got art by Walter Simsonson. Yes, the same Walter Simonson who did Manhunter with Goodwin, made Marvel’s Battlestar Galactica into a surprisingly good comic and then did a definitive and long run on Thor.

But for whatever reason, I never picked this up until now. Part of that is that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a copy in any of the dozens of comics shops I”ve frequented over the years. The other part being it just never came to mind as something to get on eBay, until now.

And despite the long wait and the high expectations, this really did live up to my expectations. First, Alien is a great movie, one of the best from that heady period between Star Wars and the mid-1980s, when almost every sci-fi/superhero movie coming out had at least something to recommend it. (Consider Superman: The Movie, the first couple of Star Trek movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Tron … and that’s without getting into secondary stuff like The Last Starfighter or Krull.)

What I love the most is this book works as both an adaptation that accurately conveys the story and the experience of the movie and as a damn fine comic book with smart scripting and excellent art.

I have no idea what the reaction to this book might have been. The indicia says it came out in 1979, same year as the movie, but its in a format where the dimensions are similar to a magazine yet the quality of the paper and the ad-free interior are like a book. It’s a bit like what Marvel and DC would try a few years down the road with their original graphic novel format. The pages are larger than the average comic, which lets Goodwin and Simonson put more panels on a page without having to make them too small. The coloring is excellent and the lettering is by John Workman, so you know it’s good. I imagine this must have sold on newsstands alongside things like Heavy Metal magazine (HM published this adapation by the way — and it looks like it could have been serialized in the magazine. I don’t know.) All this for the original cover price of $3.95 — not much less than what I just paid for it recently on eBay.

The only downside is there’s now one less lost gem to cross of my list … I’ll have to start looking for another.

Off the Shelf: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe, Vol. 5

I overall really like the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, who gets points from me for being a fellow expat Canadian. I am, however, a little puzzled by the extent of the fervor that surrounds the release of each new volume in this series — something I think I have to put down to a slight generational gap. If I was 17, or maybe even 24, I’m sure I would think this is much more clever, funny and, like, so true than I do at age 39.

But it is a fun book. This volume, to my surprise, comes with some kind of flashy foil cardstock cover of the like I haven’s seen since Valiant last went under. To be honest, I would rather have had some color interior pages, as was done in at least one of the previous volumes. What I like about it is it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Scott Pilgrim remains a pretty clueless slacker, but he’s a funny clueless slacker and the story — much like the real world — doesn’t really punish guys like that for their rather minor flaws. But despite not being heavy or preachy, there’s enough recognizable real life and real emotion in this book to make it charming.

I also like O’Malley’s artwork, which is in many way is a perfect match for the material, evoking equal parts manga and Life in Hell. It’s also low-fi enough to retain the feeling of reading some sort of underground, zine-like comic that only the other cool kids know about — which also fits in perfectly. I imagine some day, there will be some kind of absolute edition featuring a large page size and color, though I can’t imagine either would improve things that much.

Again, even though I really like this series, it’s not for me the second coming of Stan Lee the way it seems to be for some fans. And in some ways, I’m a bit jealous of that because it’s been quite a while since I’ve found a comic that really evokes that sense of discovery in me — again, part and parcel, I think of me no longer being 24 years old.

Comic du jour: The Bionic Woman #1 (Oct. 1977)

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an episode of the TV show this comic is based on, but I hope it was better and less silly than this comic from Charlton.

To say something nice about this book, the art is interesting and offers a decent likeness of actress Lindsay Wagner. But the story! Let’s get to it ….

First off, is a little ditty called “Rico, Come Home.” In it, Jaime Sommers gets involved in the personal life of the child Rico when the kid is nearly abducted in an extensive family dispute involving Rico’s dead father, rich grandfather and normal mother. It’s kind of confusing, but it somehow ends with Rico nearly falling off a cliff into the ocean and Jaime saving him. I guess in the 1970s it might have made sense if you just looked at the pictures, but still …

The second story is titled “Weaker Sex?” and is pretty much what you’d expect. Oscar Goldman, in all his wise manliness, decides Jaime doesn’t need to have her bionics on all the time — he’s only going to give her super strength and speed when she goes on dangerous missions. He then proceeds to send her on a mission in which she’s disguised as a flight attendant so she can keep an eye on a recently paroled terrorist who’s being returned to Algiers on a commercial flight. This, apparently, doesn’t qualify as dangerous, but she does get to wear a cute flight attendant hat that, were it made of paper, would require to ask folks to drive through, please. Of course, shit goes wrong and she has to save the day without her powers, prompting Oscar to realize he was being an ass and restore her powers.

There aren’t any credits that I can see, but I will say the art is not bad — especially for a Charlton book of this era. It also manages to be only slightly more entertaining than the NBC revival series that came out last year and could have easily exceeded it had only Max the bionic dog made an appearance.

Comic du jour: Giant-Size Man-Thing #1 (Aug. 1974)

I bought this comic recently at flea market pretty much only because of the title. In general, swamp monsters and 1970s horror comics have never held much interest for me, but this was a lot more fun than I expected.

I imagine a lot of that comes down to writer Steve Gerber, who gives the story a kind of hip, tongue-in-cheek quality that keeps things lively. How else can you describe a story in which some occultists worship The Golden Brain, which falls into the swamp and emerges as a blank slate in a perfect body and joins a sort of hippy commune based on alternative energy sources. The cultists, who lost the brain during a scuffle with the Man-Thing, are ruled by a guy name Yagzan, who looks a lot like Richard Nixon. (And yes, there’s a bit of serendipity with a Nixon lookalike in an issue cover-dated with the month he resigned as president.)

There’s also a hip city radio reporter named Richard Rory, who looks a lot like Marvel’s then editor-in-chief Roy Thomas. Of course, Yagzan conjures a muck monster to fight with Man-Thing and the Man-Thing wins out, with Yagzan during to stone or something and sinking into the swamp. All of this is pretty fun, with fun art from Mike Ploog and Frank Chiaramonte and that color palette that only existed in the 1970s from Petra Goldberg.

All in all, a cool story, but there also was a great trilogy of backup tales reprinting monster tales from pre-hero Marvels drawn by Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. I get why some folks really love these little oddball gems — they’re simple and fun diversions — even though I’m not likely to spend the big bucks on Marvel Masterworks or Omnibus editions because while the art is good, the stories just remind of other versions that I think work better (even though these comics came first).

For example, the ending of Ditko’s “Ice-Monster Cometh” reminds me of the gorilla gag at the end of Trading Places, while the plot device in “Goom! The Thing from Planet X,” in which the rampaging alien turns out to be a child, falls short of many similar tales told later on in the various incarnations of Star Trek. (I’m thinking in particular of “The Squire of Gothos.”) And I can’t help but evoke in my mind the bass player for U2 when the scientist in “I Was the Invisible Man!” introduces himself as Adam Clayton.

All in all, a cool comic with a funny name.

Comics du jour: X-Men #100-109, Uncanny X-Men #381-389 (2000)

This run of 22 comics — X-Men #100-109, The Uncanny X-Men #381-389, X-Men Annual 2000, Cable #87 and Bishop: The Last X-Man #16 — constitutes the much-heralded return of Chris Claremont to writing the X-Men after almost 10 years away. Fan response to this run, which hit in 2000 as the first X-Men movie was released in theaters, was pretty negative — I don’t think Claremont ever took as many public knocks on his stories as he did the the letter cols toward the end of this run. And I can see why this run didn’t exactly knock anyone’s socks off. While not a total train wreck, this run in many ways undid a lot of the romantic notions fans who decried Claremont’s sudden departure from the X-Men in 1991 still clung to.

Perhaps the biggest and most obvious realisation to come from this run is the importance of a good artist when working (I presume) Marvel style. The issues drawn by the better artists, like Leinil Francis Yu, Adam Kubert and Salvador Larocca are the best. The problem is there were many issues drawn — at times in rushed fashion — by the likes of Tom Raney, German Garcia, Michael Ryan, Randy Green, Scot Eaton, Thomas Derenick, Anthony Williams, Brett Booth. The transitions could be jarring, with more than one issue using multiple pencilers. That sort of inconsistency was most apparent in the many convoluted battle scenes, many of which became incomprehensible and even pointless. The coloring also did this run no favors with dark skin tones and colors that ran together and muddled the art rather than made it pop.

But the real reason to pay attention to these books when they came out was Claremont, who ended his unbroken 16-year run as writer on X-Men rather suddenly in 1991. To many fans, Claremont was X-Men — no one else, no matter how hard they tried, made this book their own in quite the same way. There were lots of elements Claremont brought back to this book that were quite welcome and almost nostalgic in the way they evoked the feel of the book from the old days. Among them:

The idea that the X-Men were smart in addition to just strong. For example, the way Rogue took on a leadership role that included her learning how to fly, some engineering and some people skills. Kitty’s engineering and tech expertise is another.

The attitude: There was lots of talk about X-Men needing to live up both individually and as a group to increasingly high standards. The X-Men’s enemies were never dumb and never stood still — as they worked and improved their skills toward achieving their own goals, so must the X-Men always do the same and be ready for anything and everything. Loyalty and competition are big themes in Claremont’s X-Men — his characters stick together, fight hard and play hard.

Having fun — Claremont always had his team blow off steam and have some fun. Yeah, there’s the usual baseball games, but also more than a few nights out partying, dancing and (I presume) drinking a bit as well.

Romance — Yes, these relationships were tortured, especially Gambit and Rogue, but they also had a palpable commitment that came through and was more than the usual surface-deep stuff normally found in superhero comics. Sometimes, it was just adding a bit of glamour, as in the descriptions of Kitty’s short-lived romance and betrayal by Seth in X-Men #100. But it’s there. And the heartbreak is pretty convincing too, as with Psylocke moving away from (and breaking up with) Archangel and seemingly into the arms of the new Thunderbird, Neal Sharra.

The supporting characters — I always liked that there were folks around who didn’t have powers in the X-books. Col. Vazhin and Simyon Kurasov in the Russia story are good examples, as is the long-absent captain of the Arcadia, Lee Forrester, and her first mate, Paolo. It makes sense for them to have non-mutant interactions with people who are nonetheless smart and interesting.

The crazy shit — Yeah, a lot of the plot ideas don’t get wrapped up nice and neat. But the idea that all kinds of strange stuff would happen to you as a superhero group like the X-Men in some ways works better and makes more sense.

So then, there’s the stuff that doesn’t work.

First and foremost is the scripting style. I don’t mind there being a lot of type to read in a comic — the packing in of ideas and bits of character through dialogue can really add to the believability of a superhero world — but the internal dialogues that rage through the minds of characters like Cecilia Reyes as they’re being hunted didn’t offer much new in these cases. Also, these issues in particular seemed to suffer in particular quite accutely from another common Claremont criticism, that being that his characters’ dialog is pretty interchangeable. Too often, it’s a phonetically spelled-out accent or, in the case of Wolverine, his own lettering font.

Sudden, unexplained changes in powers — I always liked the faux scientific authenticity the mutant explanation for powers gave the X-Men. It’s a close-enough variation on real scientific principles to really sell to an audience. But messing too much with powers can undermine that believability. Cable has always been a prime offender — whether he is a telepath, a telekinetic or both changes from year to year — and this run takes a lot of joy in messing with Rogue and Psylocke. The former’s powers are running out of control and becoming so random seemingly for the reason of giving her an extra burden to handle. The same thing happens to Cecelia Reyes, though a more reasonable explanation is given for it: She is forced to the the power-amplifying but addictive drug Rave to stay alive when she’s trapped inside the Neo’s fortress. Psylocke, on the other hand, simply shows up as a telekinetic with out telepathy. (Claremont planned to tell the story of how this happened in an annual, but left the title before he could do it.) There also are a lot of costume changes, which I don’t mind as much — though I wish the changes that were made to the costumes were better.

The villains were another problem. The Neo had the most potential. Mutants of mutants, they were on the verge of extinction and out for revenge. Domina and Jaeger remain fairly memorable. But when their plot was unresolved in this run, it seems to have largely vanished from X-Men lore. The rest came fast and furious without, in some cases, so much as a good look at these characters or any understanding of their motives: The Shockwave Riders, The Lost Souls, Big Casino, Tullamore Voge, The Crimson Pirates, The Twisted Sisters, etc. Even the few returning foes seen in this run — Lady Deathstrike, Mystique — fail to stand out the way they should.

But the biggest problem with this run of books is the pacing is a complete mess. Individual scenes are well done, but the majority of it is quite confusing, even when you’re really paying attention. The stories are so overpacked with ideas — many of them potentially very good — and they squeeze each other out. Nothing has priority, so there’s no arc through individual issues or the run as a whole to define it. Had there been more control over the stories, sequences that should have been very powerful, like the deaths of Senator Kelly and Moira MacTaggart, would have felt more dramatic, cathartic and natural rather than seemingly jammed in around a whole bunch of other elements.

So while the early issues delivered on some of the better elements, the middle of this run was where things really faltered — and really, it only was for a few months’ worth of comics — and then ran afoul of the Maximum Security crossover from the Avengers. The Dream’s End crossover with Cable and Bishop: The Last X-Man showed signs of improvement, but remained unsatisfying both for the reasons cited above and its repetition of “Days of Future Past.” The best issue, by far, was the penultimate one, The Uncanny X-Men #389, in which Claremont and Larocca — easily the best artistic match on the run — rather poignantly recounted unseen elements of the Xavier-Moira relationship while intercutting with both her funeral and Kelly’s. There also was a decent subplot that planted the seeds for the original concept of Claremont and Larocca’s X-Treme X-Men series.

All this added up to a bit of a mess and some difficulty for Marvel. Rumors have always run rampant that this run’s impenetrability and its divergence from what moviegoers saw on screen that summer played a role in the changing of the editorial regime that brought in Joe Quesada, Bill Jemas and, notably for the X-Men, Grant Morrison. I still can find things to admire about this run, though it still disappoints, failing by a long shot to live up the best work Claremont did on the book in the 1980s. Those things I admire, though, also give me hope that Claremont and Tom Grummet can find a way to make X-Men Forever, the upcoming continuation of Claremont’s original run, will deliver in a way this run did not.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day with Proinsias Cassidy

I wonder how many comics fans in America drank their first pint of Guinness (or any kind of stout for that matter) because of Garth Ennis’s stories in Hellblazer and Preacher?

Anyway, one of my favorite bits in the long and most excellent run of Preacher was the two-part origin of Cassidy in issues 25-26, drawn by Steve Dillon and published way back in 1997. I especially love Cass’s real name was Proinsias, a Gaelic name so bizarre to American ears that Ennis started off his letter column on this story by answering the most common question this way: “PRAWN-SHAS. OKAY?”

For those who missed it, here’s the last page from issue 25, in which Jesse gives his ol’ Irish pal a classic hard time. (Click for an easier read.)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Slainte.

Comic du jour: Dazzler #1 (March 1981)

Of all the superheroes Marvel has created over the years, were created under stranger circumstances than Dazzler.

As chronicled by folks with a deeper love for this character (and I mean that in the most non-icky kind of way) than I will ever have, Dazzler began as a collaboration between Marvel and Casablanca Records in the 1970s. The idea was that Marvel would create a singing supehero character, Casablanca would find a real singer to fill the role and they’d make and cross-promote records, comics and even try to make a movie.

But having that many cooks meant there were many starts and stops on the project. Marvel’s then editor in chief Jim Shooter reportedly wrote a Dazzler movie treatment over a single weekend to try to make Casablanca happy. But things didn’t work out with Casablanca, and Marvel finally decided to put her out there as a guest star in a couple of top titles, namely The Uncanny X-Men #130-131 and The Amazing Spider-Man #203, before they gave her her own title about a year later. (BTW, the cover to that issue of Spider-Man was drawn by none other than Frank Miller. Also, the original art is currently for sale on eBay, though try not to gag at the asking price.)

Of course, by the time Dazzler #1 hit stands, the disco craze that inspired it was already dead and the character’s roller skates, disco slang and mirror-ball logo were instantly dated. Also, Marvel decided to make Dazzler its first comci book series to be distributed only in comic shops. The reasons for that aren’t clear, considering the character’s intended broad appeal should have been better served by the broader newsstand outlets. Either way, some 400,000 copies were pumped into comics shops — a sales figure that any publisher would absolutely kill for these days and a number that explains how I can buy this comic 29 years later for cover price at the Pasadena flea market.

The story itself isn’t that bad, though writer Tom DeFalco seems to go to great lengths to get wannabe singer Alison Blaire into the kind of trouble that requires superpowers to get out of. There’s also guest appearances from Spidey and the X-Men horned in here, too. The art’s decent but pretty dull, too — pencils were by John Romita Jr. before he’d really developed his own distinct style, with inks by Alfredo Alcala.

The villain of the piece was The Enchantress, who comes to Midgard and tries to take the singing gig Alison’s also trying out for. I don’t have a copy of Dazzler #2, but I really hope it’s a kind of superheroic proto-American Idol trashfest. I not only want to read that issue now, but I think I’d spend as much as 60 cents for a copy.

Who says comics aren’t cheap fun anymore?

Sweeping up after the Watchmen

Watchmen did a respectable number at the box office this weekend, grossing $55.7 million domestically and $27.5 million overseas for a grand total of $83.2 million. How high the number goes will help determine whether any of the studios make any money off the film. Costs are high due to an immersive advertising campaign and the legal dispute between Fox and Warner Bros. that will spread around the money that does come in. It’ll take another week or so to see how well the film holds up business wise.

But the reaction to the film is the most interesting part. It’s all over the place from both fans and non-fans calling it everything from an absolute disaster all the way up to an undisputed masterpiece.

I think it’s all in what you’re looking for in this film — people interested in the plot are pleased to see so much of it in the film, while those who go in looking for the tone, meaning and underlying themes of the graphic novel are coming out disappointed.

What’s undisputed is this all makes for some great debates and discussion. This film has so far brought out (mostly) thoughtful and intelligent comments on all aspects of the film and the comic, indicating that the movie has at the very least succeeded in engaging people’s brains in a way few other movies of this type ever have.

What’s really fascinating is the way even the slightest changes or omissions are noticed and felt by people who read the book. Whether it’s wishing for a scene that better explains how Sally pushed Laurie into being a superhero, to wondering why we don’t see Seymour the intern before the film’s final shot, it’s a testament to the book that almost nothing can be removed or altered without being noticed. It’s also a testament to the film that even critics are willing to admit that even when these elements come up short that the filmmakers’ intentions were such that they’d have put it in if they could.

Many of the discussions have softened my previous position on the film a bit. With a bit of distance, I too am quite impressed by just how much of the book got onto the screen. It certainly could have been a lot worse, and there is hope to be had that the director’s cut will put back in just enough to push this one over the top.

So, what will Watchmen’s impact be on the superhero and comic book movie genre? Unless Watchmen has incredible legs and the box office begins to creep into Iron Man or Dark Knight territory, probably not much. It definitely fits in well with the trend toward more sophisticated fare those two films established last year. But since this is not a franchise that will produce sequels that would extend its influence, it’s unlikely we’ll see a lot of Watchmen imitators. That there’s also not a lot of comic book material out there that stands up to the quality of Watchmen means the film should remain its own, self-contained thing. Instead, look for a slight turn away from the darkness, which X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the potential Green Lantern movie are likely to deliver.

Waiting on the Watchmen

Having processed my first viewing of Watchmen, I’m just waiting at this point for the next phase — the box office. I think it’ll be in the $60 million to $70 million range, an estimate encouraged by the number of positive reactions from folks who’ve seen the movie but not read the book.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of cool links out there — too many to list — but I have to point out the coolness of SuperPunch’s links to Watchmen items and oddities, and Anne Thompson’s discussion at Daily Beast of how high this movie may fly.

And then, of course, there’s this little bit of brilliant.

Why Watchmen was not the movie I was hoping for

Watchmen is not the movie I was hoping for. There’s a lot of reasons for that and it hardly means there’s not some really great stuff in there or that many fans of the book won’t love it completely and unapologetically.

But for me, even though this is a film that does a very good job of squeezing all the plot points from the comic into movie form, the tone, scope and underlying world that made the book so convincing and compelling is missing.

The tone was the most jarring element for me. And I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’ve read this book and interpreted in my own way for more than 20 years. But it’s hard to reconcile the deliberateness of Dave Gibbons’ images and Alan Moore’s immaculate pacing with the very average performances and staging of scenes in this film.

This comes down to more than the actors, whose performances nevertheless will be debated endlessly by fans of the book. By far the best is Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, who delivers on the obsession and a pitch-perfect gravelly voice. It’s a shame his face isn’t seen for much of the film, but it’s still a top-notch turn. I can’t say the same for the rest of the cast, whose only crime seems to be that they seem too young for these roles and don’t deliver the gravitas in performance or even voice quality that I expected from this movie. Billy Crudup, a very fine actor in pretty much everything I’ve ever seen in him, plays Dr. Manhattan’s voice with an uncertainty that falls short for the voice of a god-like being. Same holds true for Matthew Goode as Ozymandias, though I thought he fit the character much better as the movie progressed. Patrick Wilson and Malin Akerman are who we spend most of the film with, and they’re far from terrible but again don’t deliver the gravitas or convey the inner conflicts of their characters with half the believability that Gibbons’ artwork did.

The tone continues to the look of the film, which despite however much money Warner Bros. spent on it again fails to convey the depth of this world. New York City never comes alive as a unique place, nor does Ozymandias’ Antarctic retreat, Karnak. In fact, there’s little variation in the size or depth of the sets, either real or digital, and the comic’s sense of expansive space alternating with stifling confinement is lost amid sets that all seem about the same size and fail to elevate themselves above the norm for a sci-fi movie or TV show.

The look of the movie also lacks a certain polish, especially in the visual effects. Dr. Manhattan in particular doesn’t work well. He’s stuck in the uncanny valley, and not even because of the effect used for his blank-glowing eyes, but because he’s too obviously a digital construct given away by rough edges and not being properly composited into a number of scenes. He also moves far too much like a motion-capture demonstration, with the artificial movements of a video-game character and even problems with the lip synch. The Mars scenes similarly are rough around the edges, with the clockwork fortress never appearing clear enough to really understand or appreciate what it was.

It’s the loss of the underlying world that I miss the most. While Richard Nixon gets far more play in the movie than he did in the comic, there was precious little time or attention paid to explaining in any way who these people were and why they were driven underground. In the comic, a lot of that came from the shorthand of the archetypes, but the movie failed to establish especially who Dan and Laurie were, why they became costumed adventurers — even being very clear that they were costumed adventurers who enjoyed what they did very much — and the Keene Act is only mentioned once and even then its rationale was not explained.

And then there’s the big change to the ending — much debated for months in advance. The alternate version makes far less sense than the original ending and is far less dramatic. The sheer audacity and strangeness of the book’s ending, that it was the sort of thing that only a comic book-style villain could come up with, was part of what made it so compelling and interesting. It also, especially after 9/11, would have provided a more convincing reason for the superpowers to pull back from nuclear war, while the movie’s ending would, I think, actually exacerbate the conflict given Dr. Manhattan’s political situation.

The result is a movie that has all the surface elements of a decent adaptation, including pretty much every major plot points, and yet none of the old soul of the book. Moore and Gibbons created a comic that tapped into all the archetypes of superhero comic books and took them to a logical conclusion, building on decades worth of minute details that had built up through the genre and deconstructing them in spectacular fashion. The movie, on the other hand, isn’t really sure what it’s about, other than a trying to stage every scene from the graphic novel in as much detail as possible.

There’s also a lot to debate about the level of violence and gore the film portrays, and director Zack Snyder’s continued use of the fast-slow-fast motion technique made famous in 300. The gore didn’t bother me, though the scene in which the Comedian assaults Sally Jupiter is far more graphic than in the book and a bit tough to watch. Neither quibble had as much impact for me as the other issues. Oh, and the music was awful and completely on-the-nose. I wish they’d used music that actually came out in 1985 rather than hammer home the same Dylan and Hendrix songs that a thousand other movies have used.

Talking about it afterward with friends, there were a lot of divergent opinions. The best point was that, despite its flaws, the basic story remains a good one and it’s all in there. Also, given that this was a book long thought to be unfilmable, that this adaptation with its faithfulness to the source material may be as good as anyone could do with this material. Both of which are good points that I’ll have to consider when I next see the film.

Which brings up the next question, of whether and how the director’s cut can improve on this version of the film. I hope it can. I’d like to see more Sally Jupiter, who’s presences seems cut back in the film despite most of her scenes being in there. Also, the death of Hollis Mason — who’s seen early on having his beer session with Dan — would be worth putting in, and perhaps adding some more of the back-story on the Keene Act while they’re at it.

I’ll be most interested to see what people who’ve never read the book think of Watchmen. Most everyone in the press screening at the Grove last night (which was immensely uncomfortable due to a full house and a broken air conditioner) had read the book and most had some serious complaints or problems with the film. But the vast majority of moviegoers haven’t read the book and it would be absolutely fascinating if they found the elements the fans of the book dislike to be reasons why they like the film. That group won’t include critics, who so far have been harsh and, I expect will continue to be harsh given that so many of them dislike comic book movies to begin with.

As I wrote yesterday, the movie doesn’t change one iota of my feelings about the graphic novel. It’s still among my favorite graphic novels and perhaps the greatest example of what can be done with the superhero genre. But the movie is, at least right now, a disappointment. It’s rare that I find myself revising such opinions for the better, but perhaps on subsequent viewings I will find more to like in this version of Watchmen.

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