Thursday, March 12, 2009

Watchmen Walk Outs - Some Thoughts

This past weekend I called my sister. Her and her husband had just gone to see Watchmen.

Sure, it makes sense that they'd see Watchmen, right. It's the big Hollywood movie, it has that sci-fi bent that makes it seem like something that you should see on the big screen...and it involves super heroes...who doesn't love super heroes these days.

Yet, not to my surprise she hated it. I'm sure they're are a variety of reasons that both her and her sci-fi/philisophical/action/adventure/imagination-loving husband both were disappointed.

I assume, they were unfamiliar with the source material. This is common. Part of the reason people see movies is because it's quicker and more engaging then reading the book or studying that portion of history.

I don't fault them for sister and her husband never read Alan Moore and David Gibbons graphic novel.

But, the story line and that was it was told was not quite what they expected.

Watchmen Walk Outs Common
Chris Borelli wrote about this on Chicago Tribune's site about in his opening weekend theater experience about a quarter of the theater he was watching with walked out.

Borelli mentions that people left due to the explicit sex, nude Dr. Manhattan, and gruesome splatter violence. Chris reminds people that the movie is rated R, but I would assume that a large portion of people this past weekend who loved movies like The Dark Knight and Iron Man last year, thought they might be going for a similar ride.

Chris' article points to several cities and viewers that mentioned major walkouts during various showings of Watchmen.

Speaking of being rated R, Watchmen's opening weekend theater count was the widest release of any rated R movie ever...although BoxofficeMojo reports it's opening weekend gross was only the 6th highest R rated gross ever (behind The Matrix Reloaded, The Passion of the Christ, 300, Hannibal and Sex and the City). With it's $55.2 million dollar opening gross, it makes me wonder if theaters gave refunds on the tickets of walk-outs and if that reflected the end of weekend take?

The advertising, the posters, and the rest of the hype didn't all necessarily point to the fact that this movie was something different than a Toby Maguire Spider-Man flick...but the Watchmen crew can't be blamed...especially since most indications seem to indicate the Zach Snyder and crew were faithful to the original work, maybe even to a fault.

But, I commend those who were offended for leaving, as oppose to subjecting themselves to something they found offensive.

A Recommendation: Kids-In-Mind
If you are likely to be that type of person, I thought I would take a moment to direct you to a favorite website of mine called I know there are other sites of this kind, if have a favorite let me know.

What I like about Kids-in-Mind is that it gives films a numerical score (between 0 and 10) based on three offensive areas...the higher the score, the more of this offensive element is present. The actual page goes on to list the offensive elements, with out neccesarily naming characters or giving away spoilers, but still explicitly detailing the offenses.

The three scores evaluate the presences of sex & nudity, violence & gore, and profanity.

Since even when it comes to rated R movies there is a wide range of what makes something "R" and what will offend someone, or even make a certain film bad for certain audiences.

I had been curious about Watchmen's content, and was semi-shocked to see the weekend of it's release that kids-in-mind rated Watchmen a 9.9.6, telling me that this was a sex/nudity heavy and violent film.

With this knowledge, I was hardly surprised my sister said she was disturbed and offended by the film. I wish she would have checked out kids-in-mind first and maybe instead they would have seen Paul Blart: Mall Cop (3.5.3.)


Karen said...

I'd probably fall asleep on the movie, kinda like I did with 300. But I heard this one is much worst.

Anonymous said...

This one is not much "worst," Karen. It is much, much better.

And, RC, I hope that you're being facetious about seeing Paul Blart instead. I mean, maybe that would have been a better move for your sister, but it's certainly a worse movie.

Without getting into a huge discussion, I'll just say this: Watchmen is the best "superhero" movie that has been made so far.

Daniel Cho said...

People just need to do some research before they see movies. Read some reviews, people! And pay attention to the rating!

Anyway, best movie of the year (so far) for me.

Will said...

Love it that Anonymous decided to be anonymous here.

I haven't seen it, but would you sell us on it, Anonymous? Or Dan, in case Anonymous doesn't return?

Thanks much!

RC said...

@ anon, for the record I have ZERO interest in seeing Paul Blart...but when I did a quick glance at what was out in theaters right now that wasn't sex, violence or language infused, it looks Paul Blart be one of the least potentially offensive films out there right now.

Darrell said... is a site I've relied on for years to get info on movies if I'm unsure if they're safe for the kids. Jim Judy (the guy who runs ScreenIt) is amazingly thorough with regard to sex, violence, profanity, and much more. And he provides thoughtful, interesting reviews of each movie, judging it simply on the basis of it's own "art."

I thought Watchmen was pretty good, not brilliant. When I write my view I'll give it slight praise and recommend it almost exclusively for it's visuals and for the Rorschach character (an outstanding performance by Jackie Earle Haley, which I may have misspelled.)

All in all, though, Watchmen (the source material) is basically a comic book about comic books and how that medium effects it's readers and the world. The movie tries to tell the story with no subtext. And it doesn't try to customize the story into a "super hero movie about super hero movies" either, which would never have worked.

Watchmen the comic series is a great read for really hardcore fans of comic books. I can't imagine anyone else really enjoying the book ... and I'm at a loss with regard to what kind of person would enjoy the movie. Adapting this into a movie never made any sense at all. They may as well have tried to adapt Plato's dialogues or Grover's "Monster At The End Of The Book." It just doesn't work outside of it's original medium.

Anonymous said...

Watchmen the comic series is a great read for really hardcore fans of comic books. I can't imagine anyone else really enjoying the book ... and I'm at a loss with regard to what kind of person would enjoy the movie.

Watchmen is pretty much the only graphic novel that I've ever read. So, I'm not a hardcore fan of comic books, and I loved it. It's one of the best pieces of fiction that I've ever read. And I have recommended it to multiple non-comic book readers, who have subsequently read and enjoyed Watchmen. I think that the exact opposite of your statement is true: Watchmen is a comic book for people who would never read a comic book.

You're at a loss for what kind of person would enjoy this movie? How about Roger Ebert for starters? Just because the movie doesn't (and can't) capture every bit of subtext from the source material doesn't invalidate the movie. If that argument were valid, no book should be adapted into a movie, because you could never cram everything from the book into the movie. And maybe you do think that books should never be adapted into films, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, film critics, and the viewing public disagree.