Set Visit Preview: Zack Snyder's Watchmen!
by Alex Billington
July 14, 2008
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.
It 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.