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Set Visit Preview: Zack Snyder's Watchmen!

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July 14, 2008

Set Visit Preview: Zack Snyder's Watchmen!

There's nothing quite like standing inside of the real Owl Ship. And there's nothing quite like watching Rorschach beat the crap out of inmates. And those are just two of the fond memories I had on my visit to the set of Watchmen in Vancouver, BC last October. Watching Zack Snyder direct his pack of vigilante heroes as they fight their way out of a jail is truly an unforgettable experience. And well before the first photos hit the web and well before anyone gained confidence in Zack Snyder, I was already watching it unfold right in front of my eyes. As the day wrapped up and I sat in awe watching one more scene in the jail play out, it finally struck me - this movie was going to be absolutely incredible. It would be everything Watchmen fans wanted and more and it was all thanks to the brilliance of Zack Snyder.

Nite Owl in WatchmenIt all began one chilly Saturday morning in Vancouver at an abandon factory that the production had bought and rebuilt internally with numerous sets. Inside that building was the jail that Walter Kovacs aka Rorschach is sent to, Jon Osterman aka Dr. Manhattan's house and massive laboratory, and many other smaller sets. Just in case you might not be familiar with the characters, Rorschach is the primarily vigilante that the film follows, a masked hero in search of justice. Dr. Manhattan is the only superhero in the actual story, an nuclear physics experiment gone wrong. Dr. Osterman accidentally gets locked inside an intrinsic field test chamber where he is bathed in radiant light then vaporized. After transforming into the blue man that most recognize him as, he gains incredible powers, such as the ability to control space, time, energy, and matter. And these are only two of the characters in the film.

After watching Rorschach beat the crap out of another inmate in his cell, we were shuttled to two other various important locations in the area. The first was the New York City backlot that they had constructed entirely from scratch and the other was the massive production office just across the street. As we traveled to each location, what I continued to notice was not only the extreme level of detail (from props like newspapers on the ground to the set construction), but the amount of passion and energy of every last crew member that we met. They knew that this wasn't just another "throw away" production, but instead it was something truly grand. They all smiled as they explained what they were working on or stepped back to let us take a closer look. And I just stared at awe at every amazing aspect of the production.

Not only were shown fight scenes in the jail, but we walked around every street of the incredibly detailed New York backlot (seen below), stepped inside of Nite Owl's badass vehicle called the Owl Ship (seen in the background of the photo to the right above), toured the aptly named War Room that Zack Snyder had setup, and stepped foot inside of nearly every set they had built, whether it was finished, being built, or being torn down. It was a epic experience that I unfortunately must save for a later date near its release in March of 2009. But as you all watch the new trailer for Watchmen this weekend in front of The Dark Knight, keep in mind that although this was my very first set visit, everything I've seen since then has paled in comparison to what I saw that day. To put it simply, Watchmen is going to kick a lot of ass.

Watchmen New York Backlot

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  • Dave V.
    Don't know how I feel about this film. You know comic movies are the genre of the minute, and it seems that there are only a few that are worthy of movie making. The Owl guy is kinda hokie and so is the robin mask wearing wolverine ho-bo guy. The chick in this is SUPER sexy, though! I'm really going to need a trailer soon so I can figure this out, but so far, all the neon colors on flats are not helping.
  • Fisherman
    I'm past excited on this one. It looks brilliant. Whatever it is I believe that It'll be great.
  • Curits
    im really looking forward to seeing a trailer of Watchman on the weekend should be kick ass just like the movie is going to be.
  • Django
    Dave V; Have you read the book? Just curious, b/c if you haven't, you really owe yourself the experience. I can say, as a lifelong fan of the book, that I've accepted it's multiple layers of reading and re-reading will be impossible to translate completely to screen. But having said that, every piece of promo I see for Snyder's production convinces me more and more that they are trying their damnedest to get it right. This book was written as an Epitaph to the Superhero genre, and if you read it you'll get a sense of why. If we're lucky, this film will both make the "Masks" phenomenon into an acceptable reality, which comments heavily on our own world - in a way which exploits the idea of a costumed super team to its very last drop. If this film can achieve that, and Snyder fights for the full cut to be released in theatres, we might have a real monster on our hands. I do wonder how they'll market a film that's slated to be some 3 to even 4 hours. At this point, I'm confident they're making that film. But ultimately, they'll face fierce resistance to cut down the theatrical release - which anyone who's read the book can tell you, will inevitably cut some crucial elements out of the entire piece. Godspeed Zack. It sounds like you're working tirelessly on this one. Whatever you do, don't don't let them cut it down to anything short of blowing us away!
  • Colin (brother of Mike) Hunt
    Now, Alex, don't hold back -- tell us how you really feel about the movie.
  • http://criticinema.blogspot.com Dan
    "...well before anyone gained confidence in Zack Snyder..." You were the first person to believe Zack Snyder had a shot at making a good movie? Somehow I find that claim questionable.
  • jono
    zack snyder rocks and this film will 2
  • Dave V.
    Django, I haven't read the book, but it sure sounds like YOU have! Not knocking the content of something I have yet to be exposed to. I'm merely commenting on the articles I've read( which allude to none of the story) and the pictures I've seen. In the last decade wev'e seen alot of movies in this genre and with this summer in full throtle and DC and Marvel both giving green lights to other comic heroes I'm simply saying I don't know enough to make any sort of educated oppinion on this movie. But you sure got me interested in the novel,thanks.
  • Nettle
    Oh hey, that sounds pretty... did you say last October? Why are you only now telling us this 3 months shy of a year from happening? On another note: As someone who spent a month in graphic fiction class studying the aspects and themes of Watchmen, I can safely say that this is looking pretty damn awesome. Ya, a lot of elements are going to be missing, but this book is too big and intricate to put to the screen without it exceeding 5 hours.
  • http://blog.myspace.com/shero_rauf Shero
    I don't want to be rude guys and girls ... But I am not into this one ...maybe it is because The Dark Knight fever or maybe I am thinking about having a lot of comics heroes and villains in one movie like Batman & Robin (1997) or Mystery Men (1999) .... is not a good idea ... Maybe I am wrong ...we will see :-)
  • Django
    S. Hero, Dave V., or really, anyone. Read the book. It's not like I'm one of the few people who has. You guys, on the other hand, might not want to be among the few who haven't. ... The look is just a surface treatment, but I will say it "looks" like they're trying very hard to execute it faithfully. Nettle- you're damn right.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    #9 - To answer your question, and anyone else who is wondering, the reason it's "late" is because Warner Brothers has an embargo on us. I signed some contracts when I went out there that said I'm not allowed to talk about until March of 2009 (no joke). Then we just got the approval to run this "preview" piece today, which is a way of saying "look for the rest of our coverage next year before the movie comes out." But all of this is unfortunately controlled by WB because have contracts with them... :)
  • http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=137086138 Shero
    Django : Thanks man for the kind comment ... and for the nice new nick name ( S. Hero ) ;-) .... I am watching the graphic novel and I will let you know ..what I think about it as soon as I have some time ... ;-)

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