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G4's Watchmen Debate - Drew McWeeny vs Dave Poland

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March 9, 2009

G4's Watchmen Debate - Drew McWeeny vs Dave Poland

In the online world there are numerous rivalries amongst various writers, that just comes with the job, but rarely do we ever get to see two rivals go head-to-head in a actual, legitimate debate. G4 setup a live debate on "Attack of the Show" tonight between HitFix editor Drew McWeeny and MCN editor Dave Poland on Watchmen and it's quite entertaining to watch. Both are very big fans of the graphic novel and very familiar with it, however McWeeny appreciated and enjoyed the film whereas Poland did not. For just under 8 minutes, the two argue about the merits of the film and Zack Snyder's directorial choices and more.

Given I've already expressed my feelings on Watchmen on this site, it's obvious that I'm on Drew McWeeny's side, largely because I did enjoy it as much as he did (if not more). The argument they get into at the end regarding box office numbers is a bit ridiculous, so I won't get into that, but I do like what Drew says about this being a movie more than adaptation. And to counter Poland, I did actually feel for almost all of the characters. I'd actually love to see G4 setup more of these debates, because not only are they conducted rationally, but it's good to hear reasonable arguments from both sides. Who won this debate?

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  • richard
    I didn't like the movie, but I didn't read the comic. I'm siding with Poland on this movie.
  • Brian G
    I don't know if anyone "won" this debate. What you have here is two different guys, with two different reactions to the film. I can say that I saw this yesterday without ever having read the source material, and purposely limiting my exposure to reviews and articles before it came out, and I loved it. I cared about the characters, I understood what was going on, and I was thoroughly engaged and entertained.
  • Alexander
    Wow, a redeeming moment from Attack of the Show, whoda thunk it.
  • Dave Lister, J.M.C.
    Never read the books; loved the film. I'm with the Real Moriar... woops, I mean I'm with Drew, on this one.
  • DJ Phillips
    I haven't read the graphic novel yet. I loved the film. Great flick. I think there isn't any other way this could have been done without going over 3 hours.
  • Shane
    First, let me say that I have read the book, and I really enjoyed the movie. This whole argument that the film adaptation was "too literal" or "too faithful" seems silly to me. Watchmen isn't a broad comic franchise like Batman or X-Men. This is an intimate story that requires an adaptation that does the novel justice. Like Dave Poland, those who read Watchmen and still feel that the film should have gone "above and beyond" the novel in order for a broader audience to connect with it either didn't truly experience the novel, or has been chugging laundry detergent. If you want an "above and beyond" comic adaptation, go watch V for Vendetta or something.
  • Johnny Crow
    Ok so heres my complaint. Everyone complains about how comic books are not being adapted correctly into movies. They complain that the story is ruined, or its too cheesey, or the characters dont look or act like they should. Then, Snyder comes along with an adaptation that is almost exactly like the comic and people complain. I was hoping that Snyder would make the film exactly like the comic and thats what he did. The characters looked exactly the same, the scenes looked the same. There was so much detail put into it. I cannot see how anyone who is a fan can dislike it.
  • kindbuddy
    Exactly Johnny Crow. You're spot on!
  • RPD
    It's not just a graphic novel...
  • James
    what? $150 million budget, how will they not make that back? It made $55 opening weekend...JUST IN N. America, After its run in the states and abroad itll have made profit that's all before we get into merchandising, DVDs, tie-ins, etc.
  • Seductive Flamingo
    I'll have to agree with #2. There was no winner persay in the debate. However I don't believe I could read a book twenty times and not care for it. That would be torture in itself. That statement didn't do too much for me. And the comment made that people who haven't read the book would listen to the music and become totally unintrigued by the movie. Not true. I would be one. Yes I would agree that some were a bit strage but I don't let a silly soundtrack ruin an entire work of art. It's equivalant as if someone left the comic out on the coffee table for a week and it obtained dust. Just grab your duster and move on! You can still read it!
  • MajinKrillin
    @ Johnny Crow Thank you thank you thank you!!!!! Man I can't take this anymore its seriously IMPOSSIBLE to make people happy, people complain about Dragonball not following the story of Dragonball and saying its going to suck because of it! Then Batman comes out they change many things about batman and the story and everyone ends up being ok with it and loving it! Wathmen comes out first Comic book movie to follow the story EXACTLY to the tee everything you could possibly ask i dont even know how you could possibly get anymore to the actual novel and then people hate on it because they didn't take the movie somewhere else with it!!!! Seriously because of this I am so excited for Dragonball yet I know people are going to be hating on it but hopefully it makes a lot of money! btw Watchmen was an awesome movie there was a part where I did get a little bored I won't lie but I still loved the movie it was amazing!
  • Jay
    Here is my argument. Watchmen was a graphic novel that utilized the very medium in which it was made for, comics. From the symmetry found in some panels to the intended individual's own imagination filling in the movements and voices of the images (which the film takes away). What we see on the screen is Zack Snyders perspective of the comic. No matter how literal everyone claims it is; the plot twist, to the cuts and rewrites, to the actors persona, make it Zack's vision. With this in mind, it is totally understandable that people can dislike Zack's version. Any one who reads (and a fan of post-modern Lit.) should be able to tell you the joy in reading stems from the amount of imagination that is created in crafting a world that becomes your own to interpret. Not Mr. Snyder's. Not Mr. Moore's. And that is what Alan Moore is trying to express when he says this is un-film-able. Some people may share a similar vision, like that of Zack's, but to call someone not a true fan for not liking the movie is stupid and find myself surprised that a understander and fan of Moore's work would make that comment. In fact, if you love literal translations of comics to movies (which this was clearly not) why make it into a movie to begin with? What do you hope to get out of making a live action film if its just like the book. I can understand the thrill of seeing your favorite characters come to life, but what for if its just like the book. The movie may have kept the "themes", but it lost in establishing the characters. Alan Moore wrote the comic with the idea of characters first. They drive the themes, the story. They bring out meanings in subtext and there context. I don't think any true fan would say the movie succeeded in developing the characters the way the book does. Which circles to my argument. Congrats Zack on the film, but it didn't live up to the expectations I had as a fan of the comic. And as a movie, I feel you strayed a bit off from the core of the comic. Sorry to ramble, but I find this an interesting discussion of art. Let me end on an ambiguous question, manly for my own interest. In the MOVIE's climax, where does Silk Specter get the gun from?
  • DJ
    When it comes to the argument about the music and how it "detracts" from the movie I have to completely disagree. Yeah some of the choices where cheesy, but I really can't see the movie without the music that was chosen. Each song ads a little something extra to each scene and definitely gives the movie a more 80's feel. I would compare it to how iconic music was used in Forest Gump. Hell the opening scene with the Comedian is my favorite scene in the movie because of how Zack used "Unforgettable."
  • SamIam
    "Let me end on an ambiguous question, manly for my own interest. In the MOVIE's climax, where does Silk Specter get the gun from" In the comic, she gets it from a dead guy lying on the streets of New York, near where the Cthulhu-esque creature landed. In the movie....well, wait for the Director's Cut. Silk Specter prob finds it lying around....
  • Gene
    I have to side with Poland on this one. Having already read the graphic novel a few times, to me it was good but not great. I have no problem with Snyder being really "literal" with his adaptation, it's just that throughout the movie (besides rorschach's and manhatten's background parts which I loved) I just felt like alot of events were being thrown at me without making me care. When Ozymandias' plot finally comes to fruitition, I didn't feel the same "omg wtf" moment as I did reading the graphic novel. It was one shocking event after another without the benefit of reading/scanning the pages and having it all soak in. And a couple of little things irked me, like why change Rorschach's encounter with the child killer, and Silk Spectre II's totally unconvincing debate with Manhatten. Regardless I did enjoy the movie, glad I got to see it. Haha though at the showing I was in, there was booing and people were leaving like 20-30 min before the end.
  • JimD
    No need to say anything... Johnny Crow hit it spot on. And I hope any movie execs that happen to troll these type of forums get it.
  • L
    #12 I think people say Dragonball is going to be garbage, b/c it looks like garbage.
  • 9mm
    Not for nothing, but 99 luftballoons is a commentary about nuclear war. So if someone is saying that it didnt fit, then obviously you just missed it. Thats why so many people are dissing the movie. They just dont get it. Which is fine. Not everyone 'gets' The Old Man and the Sea either.
  • So glad Kevin brought up how awkward the soundtrack was AOTS Rocks!
  • goliad
    i have been asking everyone that i know that saw watchmen this weekend if they read the graphic novel and there were some interesting results. it seems that the split of "wow" Vs. "it was ok" has correleations to reading the GN. even my teenage sons were split this way. After some prodding, it seems to me that most of the people that didnt read the GN thought that this was going to be just another superhero movie like Iron Man, Spider Man, & Hancock. they werent expecting the drama, sex and violence to be as bold as it was. whereas the readers of the GN were prepared for what they were going to see. Imagine you fork out your $10, expecting Iron man, only to find that the movie isnt campy, it doesnt placate to children, and is a generally dark tale that goes a long way before you see sunlight. This movie is a drama not an action adventure and i think there is the surprise that turned off many of the general public. as far as the fanboy negatives... those guys always complain from the sidelines but they never get in the game. It is interesting how this movie is a departure from the classic comic book film and so it suffers from the history of the genre created by its predecessors: As if to say, "Batman Returns" ruined the playing field for "Watchmen". I really liked this movie. finally seeing it on the screen was vindication(???) of a story that i have enjoyed through rereading (at least once a year) since it came out.
  • shaun
    The one who loses this debate is The Watchmen themselves, because this debate clearly shows how torn everyone is for this movie. A decent people like it and just as many don't. For some it succeeds and others it fails. I'm on the limb, about to go see it again to try and give it a second chance, but I really feel that the film was slightly better than average. For most people who have not already invested time in these characters, they probably won't after seeing it either. With all that said I believe the movie is ultimately a failure because as an aspiring filmmaker, the goal when creating a film is to make something that satisfies as many people as you can. That's my stance on filmmaking anyway. My films will hopefully be loved by the masses and that's what I aim for. The fact that this movie has debates on whether it's actually good, tells me that it is ultimately not on a mainstream scale. The cult that follows it will be the only ones to really enjoy it to the full extent. It's definitely worth seeing, I just don't think it's for everyone, or will stand the test of time as a very good film. Good try if nothing else.
  • shaun
    #12 is a moron, and Sin City was the first graphic novel to be almost completely faithful to the source, not The Watchmen. #13 sounds like a pretty smart guy. I like his opinions. Very well said. You're right, this is Snyder's interpretation and really nothing more. That's why some love it and others not so much. I also think that Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II may have ruined the film. She sucked so hardcore. She sucks in all the movies she's been in. She should be waiting tables right now. I also think the film could have carried a lot more weight in some of the scenes. I felt a definite lack of emotion, mainly in Matthew Goode's performance as Ozymandias, which sucks cause he was great in The Lookout. #14 as far as the music goes, I didn't hate it and don't think it "detracted" from the experience and regardless of whether you "Get it" or not, the music just isn't very engaging or inspiring. It's just kinda "meh" like the rest of the experience. Excuse me I'm going to put The Dark Knight in my DVD player now...
  • I never read the novels and was not really familar with the material until the film went into production but I must say, I really liked the movie and thought it bordered on greatness. Loved Patrick Wilson as nite Owl. Thought he was the heart of the film. chuck
  • Jmoney
    My take as someone who read the novel just after Christmas for the first time... I thought the movie was great, and probably couldn't have been made any better. I liked the change to the ending, made more sense to me than the novel actually. But I have to agree with Poland to some extent about the characters. I couldn't care less about Silk Spectre in this movie, Akerman, despite her looks, was poor casting. I found myself not caring at all about her and Dr. Manhattan's relationship, which was integral to the book. I also found that Goode was poor casting for Veidt, there was just something missing in the movie with his character, I found him more sympathetic in the novel, there was more to him, in the movie, he was too young and almost robotic/sociopath. other than those two characters though, I thought the movie was fantastic
  • bart
    did you guys really go this much in depth with your posts?
  • Tom
    Complete agreement with 6 and 7. Snyder did a great job, and it's really a shame that there are people out there who want to bash him for this.
  • hawk
    can I bash Hack Synder for Dawn of the Dead and 300, instead? when you copy and reproduce someone else's work/style...you can't really be called a "visionary".
  • Reece
    First off, i wasn't familiar with the watchmen before this weekend. But, i went to it on the midnight showing and absolutely loved it, so much that i went back for a second showing on Sunday, i was nervous to see how i would like it the second time but i liked it just as much as i did the first time. Another thing is that i loved the soundtrack, sure 99 luft balloons may have been a little out there but here all of those hits during an action/superhero movie made it that more epic, and more unlike other superhero movies. 2 thumbs way up, more if i was Dr. Manhattan and could be in many places at once, that statement is cheesy i know, but it is also true!
  • DrWicket
    Way to much blue cock for me. There was no need to show that much of Dr. Manhattan.
  • StuMagroo
    ok here's the thing about my problem with people complaining about it being too literal. It's not a literal version of the comic. It just isn't. The ending is drastically changed, the charaters have huge holes in their stories, mainly Rorshach and Dr. Manhatten, not to mention their motivations, Silk Spectre II, Nite Owl, these people are not actually superheroes just masked vigilantes thus the comment about Dr. Manhatten and the arrival of the Superman, and they left out entire story lines that were essential to the thematic and literal meaning of the GN. So, it's not literal and I do understand the time constraints of the film would make it impossible to do so. That being said I really enjoyed the movie most of the themes were right on and although some of the score sucked, the opening with Bob Dylan was amazing and the use of unforgettable was really profound. Snyder has clearly evolved as a much more sensitive director in terms of shot composition, the swinging door shot with Rorshach and Big Figure, and he seems to really be maturing and telling an excellant story with an amazing looking film. Oh and Snyder is simply the best action scene director in the world hands down. Basically, was it all I had hoped for it to be? No, but it was really as good of an adaptation as anyone could ask for. i'm excited to see what was left out in the director's cut, hopefully it fills in some of the problems I have with Watchmen. Great movie Snyder, couldn't possibly live up to the GN, but very entertaining and fun.
  • Jwegs
    loved the movie and i have only read part of the gn. and also i loved the soundtrack. i loved the credit scene with the times they r a changin and i think the use of the sound of silence was brilliant. 99 luft balloons was a funny part mayb wasnt supposed to b but was
  • Seductive Flamingo
    @ 30 Its in the comic!
  • ScaryFun
    Why would an all-powerful being have the need for clothes? Mankind needs to cover themselves to avoid temptation but a God wouldn't have any need for it. It shows also that he's beyond the childish need to wear a costume like a common superhero would.
  • SamIam
    I don't know how I feel about the new ending, the new ending in the movie. I didnt feel that shock as I felt reading the comic...not 3 million newyorkers lying splattered around...but the thing is I don't feel that shock now, when I read the comic again. I guess that makes sense, and new ending was needed. Like I am, so should all fans: wait in patience for the Director's Cut before we lynch (?) Snyder. What I have read, it's 30+mins longer. Lttle things like why Dr. Manhatten made his sybol in his forehead, interaction between the newsvendor and the comic reading kid, ect. will prob make it in the D'sC. Sometimes a Director's Cut or an extended cut evens out the flaws. Still loved the movie, it's without doubt one of the best (post)superhero movies, the best adaptation of an Alan Moore GN and Snyders best film s far. I'm gunna see it again, next week

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