“Watchmen” Mail Day or Who's Watching the Critic? - Rolling Stone
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“Watchmen” Mail Day or Who’s Watching the Critic?

Welcome to ASK TRAVERS, a mail bog that lets me answer your movie questions, respond to insults that aren’t gratuitous (OK, those too), and maybe even ask nosy questions of my own. Plus, if catch me screwing up on my movie facts, yell BUSTED!

Got a question? Just shoot me an e-mail at [asktravers (at) rollingstone (dot) com](mailto:asktravers@rollingstone.com).

From Alexander M:

  1. Travers, you mention that Hollywood mangled Alan Moore’s “V For Vendetta”. Did you forget about the 3 1/2 star review you gave it upon release? What’s the deal?
  2. The deal is that it was Watchmen and V for Vendetta creator Moore who said Hollywood mangled his comic-book children. Not me. I’m ready to defend V for Vendetta to the death. Written by the Wachowski brothers and directed by their protege James McTeigue, V struck me as way more imaginative than the two Matrix sequels. Yes, it fiddled with Moore’s prose. But I believe that a movie should never approach a book with limp-dick awe. It stifles creativity. That was part of the problem with Watchmen. It needed to break out more, find its own identity as pure cinema.

From Matt V

Since ‘Watchmen’ didn’t live up to its full potential in your review, which director from failed Watchmen projects in the past do you think could have done it right — Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky or Paul Greengrass? If none of these then which director would you have liked to see helm the pic?

Those are three balls-out directors and I’m sure each one of them would have given it a hell of go. But pushed to the wall, I’m with Gilliam. There is something about Gilliam’s masterpiece, Brazil, that connects with the Watchmen vibe. Zack Snyder’s film of Watchmen missed a lot of the dark humor in the material. I think Gilliam, a crucial part of the Monty Python troupe, would have nailed it. Also, Gilliam’s background as an animator and a strip cartoonist makes him ideal to take on Watchmen and give it as unique a cinematic identity as Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons gave it on the page. Wouldn’t you love to see Gilliam’s sketches for the movie he never made? I sure would.

From Billy D

Who put the soundtrack of Watchman together? Seriously! After the climax begins to build when Night Owl II and Rorschach fly to Antarctica the editor/composer chose to play All Along the Watchtower”? Why isn’t there an epic orchestral piece? Why did he try to force those songs upon us? That movie deserved better.

Billy, I’ve heard complaints about the songs Snyder chose from many people. The gist of the bitching is that there are too many songs and not enough score. Worse, such songs as Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, All Along the Watchtower, and the My Chemical Romance take on “Desolation Row” are just too spot-on, too obvious. Snyder arguesthat many of these songs are mentioned in the graphic novel. He explains that Dylan himself signed off on using the songs, even helping on the remix. He’ll also tell you that other tunes, sung by everyone from Nat King Cole to Janis Joplin, were on his iPod while he was drawing up storyboards for the movie. All well and good. And I have to say that here are song snatches that work subtle magic. I’m thinking of Nina Simone singing Pirate Jenny from Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera and referencing the “black freighter,” the comic book within the Watchmen comic book that Snyder left out of the movie (it will be on the DVD). But I too would have preferred fewer tunes that play like a mix tape and more of a score packing orchestral wow than it gets from composer Tyler Bates, except on Prison Fight, which builds an electronic maze and rocks it. Anyone else want to weigh in on this?

From Dylan

Just wanted to mention something about a comment in your review. You mentioned that the scene where Dr. Manhattan clones himself to please Silk Spectre should have been hotter. The problem is that the scene in the book went exactly how it went in the movie. It had to go that way because it is where the rift between the two characters gets moved along to the point where she leaves. It would have made less sense to me if she had sex with his two clones and then gotten mad that he cloned himself to continue working. Just adding my two cents.

You make a valid point, and a moral one which is twice as impressive.. But this is a movie, just the medium where you could at least show Silk Spectre being tempted. That would add tension as well as sexiness to the scene without anybody actually doing the nasty. Snyder has hinted that we might see more of the eroticism in this scene on the DVD uncut version of the film. I for one I’m looking forward. What scares me is that the sex scene we do see in the movie — Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) getting it on in his spaceship while Leonard Cohen growls “Hallelujah” — is the opposite of a turnon — cold, silly, and badly acted.

From Robyn R

Who do you think gives the most godawful performance in “Watchmen”?

Easy. Malin Akerman. Her Silk Spectre II seems to come from the planet of Airheadadonia, a place I don’t recognize from the Watchmen graphic novel. And not that you asked, but I want to give a shoutout to the good acting in the movie. I have praised the performances of Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschack and Billy Cruup as Dr. Manhattan. But I feel my review didn’t give enough props to Jeffrey Dean Morgan who played the Comedian with seductive menace. Morgan is worth watching, even as the absurd character, dead Denny, on TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, and as dead Judah, Mary-Louise Parker’s dead husband on Weeds. All indications to the contrary, Morgan is a live one.

From Shirley A

What is the best comic-book ever made? And the worst?

For best, I’d have to go with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight — loved Heath Ledger’s Joker — in a tie with Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman — loved the core of loneliness Michael Keaton brought to Batman. Which shows I have this thing for the Caped Crusader. Except I hard hated 1997’s Batman and Robin with George Clooney stuck in a batsuit with nipples. I talk about other comic loves and hates on this week’s video podcast. Don’t go too harsh on me for admiring Sin City. We all have our guilty pleasures.

From Brendan H

Are you tired of talking about Watchmen yet?

Just about. There’s more to movies than comic books, and I’d like to hear your thoughts. For example, why do you think of Taken has come out of nowhere to become such a gigunda smash?


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