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Watchmen Movie (2009) Don't read the novel.

I've come to the conclusion that reading the graphic novel of Watchmen prior to seeing the movie is a really bad idea. I'm very glad that I didn't (and at the time of writing this haven't read it).

I wasn't familiar with Watchmen, the movie or the novel, until the anticipation for this movie's release started creeping into the conversations of the Batman On Film podcast team. Their interest in this DC comics title and film first piqued my interest, then I saw the trailer in the cinema and thought it certainly did look promising.

Then I listened to the BOF Podcast for Watchmen with their in depth analysis of the film. I wasn't concerned about their podcast containing spoilers because, not being familiar with any of the characters, I doubted much of the details discussed would stick in my mind - I tend not to remember things that I have no vested interest in.

One thing that did stick was that everyone involved in BOF's podcast seemed to feel that this movie would be difficult, complex and confusing for someone who hasn't read the novel. Hence I went into this movie expecting to come out with no idea about what I just saw.

My partner, who went into this film with next to zero knowledge of Watchmen other than what I could relate just prior to the movie, not only liked this film but picked up on a key plot point long before it was revealed near the end of the film. Not only that - we both agreed that we found Christopher Nolan's, The Dark Knight, harder to follow than Watchmen (on first viewing).

I didn't find Watchmen hard to follow in the least. Hence my conclusion that reading the novel prior to the movie is actually a bad idea. Guest BOF Podcaster, F.J. DeSanto (co-producer of THE SPIRIT and writer of DC's THE SPIRIT comic book) put it best when he described Watchman as "a kind of cliff notes for the Watchmen graphic novel".

If you haven't read the novel then this is a great introduction and gives you somewhere to go to find out much more about these characters and what makes them tick. I know this because I know director, Zach Snyder, had to leave a lot out and change a few plot points in order to create a coherent movie that would fit into the time he had to tell the story. I know this because that's what the BOF podcast team told me on their show.

I also know that the expected DVD versions of this film will be longer and include more scenes that were cut from the theatrical release. All great news for people who enjoyed the film, never read the novel but want to learn more about characters that may never have another film made about them. Watchmen is a 'one shot' comic book series, published back in 1986-87 (later released as a graphic novel) after all.

For those of you that have read the graphic novel, you have the disadvantage of referencing all the movies visuals and plot points back to what you've read. Filling in the blanks, noticing the changes and matching the cast to how you imagined them as you read the book. I'm glad I'm not in your shoes. By all accounts the novel is better, more complex and detailed than the film. I have that to look forward to. I have somewhere to go after having seen the film.

This hasn't been a review of the film. You can find plenty of those all over the place. This movie tends to polarize people. You either like it or you don't.

I have a theory that those who don't completely miss the point, such as in this review by Daniel M. Clark: Watchmen: I Am Never Going To The Movies Again. I think Daniel must've been watching in some alternate 2009 because the film he describes sounds nothing like the film I saw.

Daniel - the superhero costumes were supposed to look terrible - especially in the early days of costumed heroes. The second generation of heroes did have better outfits that were a little more practical (except for Silk Spectre II - but even she thought her outfit was ridiculous).

I didn't think the acting was bad either - again not even Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman) who copped a lot of flack from the BOF podcast team.

It's at this point you can see I'm starting to defend a film that I thought was pretty good. Don't listen to the bad reviews, see it for yourself. If you can wrap your mind around the idea that this is an adult superhero movie that is very graphic in it's violence and nudity but quite intelligent with what it's trying to convey, you'll be okay. You may even like it.

Most importantly though. If you haven't read the novel. Don't. It'll simply make you far too critical of the film if you do. Just enjoy the film as it is then find out what you missed in the novel afterwards.

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