Monday, March 09, 2009

Movie Reviews

Like millions of other people this weekend, I attended the opening night of the Watchmen movie. As a fan of the graphic novel, I have been waiting for this for FOREVER, and I was not disappointed. Quick synopsis of the movie, for anyone who's been living under a rock:
Watchmen is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the "Doomsday Clock" - which charts the USA's tension with the Soviet Union - is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion - a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers - Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity... but who is watching the Watchmen? - from imdb
There's a lot going on in the graphic novel, and the movie managed to capture almost everything perfectly. There were a few changes (the ending was a big one, but I liked it), but the majority of the story translates really well. I was especially happy with the characters. Rorschach, my personal favorite, is just amazingly deranged, and Dan/Nite Owl is lovably shlubby. Other things I liked: the music (Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin'," Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower," and Nena's "99 Luftballons"), the opening title sequence, and Bubastis. The only thing I didn't really like is the fight sequences. One of the most amazing things about these characters is that they don't have superpowers - they just work out a lot and have no fear. In the movie, it seemed like they have speed and super-strength, which confused my movie-going friends who hadn't read the comic yet. But that was a minor quibble, really, when compared with the rest of the movie. It's a bit long (almost 3 hours), but worth every second. I can't wait for the DVD to come out, because I know I missed a bunch of stuff in the background (I caught the graffiti welcoming Vietnam as the 51st state, but I'm sure there was more) and I'm looking forward to watching the movie again.

Another movie that I saw recently and really enjoyed was Coraline. I've been meaning to write this review for forever. I had already planned on seeing the movie just because it looked amazing, but watching and reviewing it is part of my Dream King Challenge. Synopsis from the back of the book:
When Coraline explores her new home, she steps through a door and into another house just like her own...except that it's different. It's a marvelous adventure until Coraline discovers that there's also another mother and another father in the house. They want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to keep her forever.

Coraline must use all of her wits and every ounce of courage in order to save herself and return home.
Coraline is a visually stunning movie. It was filmed using stop-motion animation and 3D, and everything (including the tiny, hand-knitted sweaters!) was created by hand. It remains (mostly) faithful to the Gaiman book that it's based on: Coraline is feisty and the Other Mother is appropriately creepy. The biggest change (at least, the one that bothered me the most) is the introduction of Wybie, Coraline's neighbor in her new house. He's an okay guy, and I can't really say why I disliked him without giving away the ending. But that minor detail aside, this is an amazing movie. I loved the 3D, especially when Coraline opens the doorway to the Other house. The other characters (mother, father, cat, and crazy neighbors) are all great. It's a semi-scary movie, but I'm sure even little kids would be delighted by it. I found it completely charming, and highly recommend it.


Staci said...

My son and I debated over which movie to see this weekend...and "Slumdog Millionaire" won. We're thinking that we will watch this one over our Spring Break! GRreat review!

Kim L said...

I have seen both of those movies recently, and I agree with your reviews. The movie version of Watchmen tried too hard to add gore when it didn't need to be there. And yeah, the characters seemed to have superpowers that they shouldn't have had.

I really really enjoyed Coraline and although I didn't love Wybie, I didn't hate the addition of his character. I think he worked in the context of the movie.

Anonymous said...