Warner Bros. Showed 25 Minutes of WATCHMEN in Los Angeles

     October 1, 2008

Frosty here. I literally just walked in from watching about 25 minutes of Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen” movie and all I can say is…wow!

You know when you imagine something, but you figure it will never come true…that’s what I always thought about a “Watchmen” movie. While rumors have been going for years and years that someone would one day adapt Alan Moore’s brilliant graphic novel, I never actually thought it would happen. After all, how could someone tackle all the adult subject matter of the book and also keep the story, the structure, and all the little things that make the book so amazing. And how could you make someone sit on the planet Mars and make it look real?

But I have to tell you…I saw some shit tonight that will make you require an adult diaper.

However, let me back up a bit.

Just like what Zack Snyder did for his movie “300,” he hosted a medium sized gathering of both online and print journalists tonight in Hollywood where he unveiled about 25 minutes of footage and he explained what he showed and what motivated his decision making.

And just like “300,” he hit a home-run with everyone in attendance.

So I’m sure you’re wondering what we saw? Before the footage was shown, Zack did a short intro. Since I wanted to post this ASAP, here’s what he said in audio form.

The first thing he showed us was the opening credit sequence. The opening is just like the comic book, but the fight has been extended a bit and it’s very violent. After we see The Comedian get thrown out the window, the credits start and they’re amazing.

With pin point accurate precision, we get shot after shot that’s filmed in slow motion where we see actual events mixed in with the Watchmen universe. We see Dr. Manhattan with JFK, Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias outside Studio 54, Dr. Manhattan on the moon, plus tons of other crazy things…as I don’t want to spoil it all. During all these shots we hear Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a Changing, and it’s played throughout all the photos and filmmaker credits. While the song is under 4 minutes, they’ve clearly extended the song as the credits are 6 minutes.

What’s amazing about the credits is the way it slowly submerges you into the universe. The shots have a purpose and a motion, they’re almost 3D the way the camera moves in them. Trust me, after these credits end, every viewer will be entranced.

After the opening credits, Zack spoke for a bit and you can hear what he said here.

He then told us we’d see the Dr. Manhattan origin sequence and let me say, while I loved the opening credits, this is the stuff that made me fall in love with the movie. I never, ever thought I’d see Dr. Manhattan on a movie screen, and I never thought I’d see a filmmaker capture the feeling of being in the comic, going back and forth in time, experiencing what it would be like to be inside Manhattan’s head. But Zack did it. And it was awesome.

The footage we saw started with him going to Mars after the talk show incident (if you’ve read the book you know) and he explores his past and how he got to this point. It shows his first love, and how he came to be large and blue.

But the thing about the footage that I loved the most was the way Zack slows down the frame and the moments that are happening inside the frame and then he speeds it all up. It’s sort of like what he did on “300,” but even better and more methodical.

After we saw this sequence Zack spoke and here’s what he said.

The next bit was footage on the Owl ship with Dan and Laurie after Manhattan left and they discuss rescuing Rorschach from the prison. After they agree to do it, we see them fighting down a long hallway attempting to find him and when they finally do, we see Rorschach dealing with a certain midget in a bathroom. After he leaves and they walk out, blood starts pouring out from under the door. We all know what happened in the bathroom.

One of the great things about the footage was the way Zack staged the fighting. Unlike some movies that cut too quick, or make it so you can’t follow the action, this stuff was easy to follow and it looked like they were there doing the stunts and actually fighting. No quick cuts and shitty editing, this stuff was tight and together. Very impressive.

After we saw this footage, Zack went onstage with costume designer Michael Wilkinson and production designer Alex McDowell and answered questions from the audience. Again, here’s the audio of what was said.

While some of you might doubt how impressed I was with the footage shown tonight, go around the net and read what others thought of the footage. You’ll see I wasn’t the only one who drank the Kool-Aid.

Overall, I’m even more convinced than before that Zack Snyder has done the impossible and brought justice to Alan Moore’s iconic work. Next March is a long way away.

And now…part 2 of Collider’s report as I brought David with me and here’s what he had to say:

Yeah, that was interesting.

We saw what they claimed was 26 minutes worth of footage. The first chunk of footage was the opening 12 minutes of the movie. It starts with a clever and minimalist take on the Warner Bros., Paramount, Legendary, and DC Comics logos, a static image on a “Watchmen yellow” background. It was like an intentionally low grade version of the Ocean’s 12 studio logos. We then went right into the beginning of the comic, The Comedian’s demise. It was intercut with the footage on his TV, a satirical take on the Mclachlan Group with an actor playing Pat Buchanan. I wonder what he’ll think about being associated with this dark, possibly genius, and meta take on the superhero genre.

The fight was a long, drawn out, brutal, and impressively choreographed brawl. Watchmen wears its R rating on its sleeve. After he plummets to his death, we got to see one of the best opening credit sequences of all time. I’m not sure how much I want to spoil, but it’s the epic and clever alternate history of America set to Bob Dylan’s “The Time’s They Are a Changing.” There’s really no way to describe it accurately and it’s really something you should absorb yourself, but it’s impressive and really sets the tone for the movie it seems they’ve made. There’s something beautifully somber about the footage. The movie walks the line between character drama and satire in a very interesting way.

The second chunk of footage sold me on the movie. No question. It was the non-linear origin of Dr. Manhattan. It covers more ground than any of the entire origin movies we’ve seen over the last decade, and it hits so many emotional notes. There’s the inherent tragedy in the classic “scientist gains powers from lab accident” story, but the sequence tackles all the philosophical questions from the comic. There’s something frightening about Dr. Manhattan and the cold and pragmatic way he views all of humanity. Ignoring all of that, there are more cinematic “money shots” in this sequence than there are in most movies. Also, prepare for some blood and guts. That’s all I’ll say. Billy Crudup nails the attitude and world view of the character better than you’d even expect.

The third chunk of footage was the rescue attempt of Rorschach at the prison. As much as I admired the approach and had a great time with the action scene, I almost wish I got to see more character moments. I had no doubt Snyder would knock the action out of the park, but I guess it was necessary to remind any journalist without imagination that there are certainly some crowd pleasing moments in the film. You see every bit of choreography due to Snyder’s love of slow motion, and I dug it. The capped everything off with a fun and exciting montage of moments from the film. At they point you were either on board for the movie or an idiot, but it was still solid stuff. Snyder came out with Alex McDowell and Michael Wilkinson and answered a few questions.

Of everything, I think the most important thing to note, and this something anyone with two eyes should have noticed already, is that the style of the costumes is a riff on the recent superhero films. That’s why Night Owl’s costume is similar to the Burton/ Schumacher Batman films and some of the costumes have nipples. I can’t imagine how anyone would think that could be an unconscious mistake, but yay for the internet. The film takes a lot of things from pop culture, one of my favorite images was their straight lift of The War Room from Dr. Strangelove. It was awesome seeing Nixon at that table. Snyder said the current cut of the movie is around 2 hours and 45 minutes and I can see why. It’s a big multi-character epic. I hope it stays that way. The biggest thing I took from the presentation is that I’m very impatient to see the movie now. March is a long way away.

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