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CC2K Reviews Two Attempts at Adapting Watchmen

Written by: The CinCitizens


Still with me? OK. Tse abandons Moore’s device of alien invasion as Veidt's plan to terrify the world into peace and opts for a less subtle and less effective ending. And whereas Moore made a legitimate effort to explain how Veidt executes his plan and sets it in motion, Tse takes the lazy-writers approach and assumes we’re not interested in the “how” of it.

Veidt has somehow (cue the hand-waving) managed to siphon some of Dr. Manhattan’s energy (without his knowledge), and he has (by unexplained means – more hand-waving) managed to convert that energy into a pulse that, once fired, initiates an electrical storm that occludes the planet. The storm is able to speak in Dr. Manhattan’s voice, evidently in tongues, as we hear it addressing people in their native languages in different parts of the world. What does it say? Can you guess? OK, I’ll paraphrase:

PEOPLE OF THE WORLD, KILLING ONE ANOTHER IS BAD. I DON’T LIKE IT. YOU NEED TO STOP KILLING ONE ANOTHER. YOU WILL EMBRACE PEACE, BECAUSE PEACE IS GOOD. I MEAN IT. IF YOU DON’T SERIOUSLY MAKE AN EFFORT AT PEACE, I WILL DESTROY YOU ALL. JUST TO SHOW YOU I MEAN BUSINESS, CHECK THIS SHIT OUT.

Then the storm unleashes blasts of atomic energy upon eight major, international cities. They vaporize people and buildings, causing widespread destruction and millions of casualties.

You know, I understand why Moore resents adaptation of his material. I’d resent a hack butchering my work too. Obviously I was being sarcastic with my paraphrasing, but my point was to highlight how bad this scene is. Let’s illustrate what's wrong even further by comparing it to another, eerily similar though much better scene.

If you were confused by the ending of The Abyss, you should check out James Cameron’s Director’s Cut on DVD. After Ed Harris does some text messaging with the recently resuscitated Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and before they hitch a ride to the ocean's surface on the aliens' Wheel of Fortune-style ship, there is a scene that had to be cut from the theatrical release. The aliens’ ability to control and manipulate water, evidenced earlier in the film by that big water phallus–I mean, tendril–able to impersonate the crew’s faces, extends far beyond such cheap parlor tricks.

Much like Veidt, the aliens fear humanity’s self-destruction and want them to choose peace. They determine the best way to lead them to the desired outcome is by delivering an ultimatum much like Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Of course, given Cameron’s story-telling ability, that message isn’t nearly so blunt as the one Tse wrote.

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Move Over Moses! The tidal wave scene specially filmed for the DVD release of The Abyss.

In the newly added scene we see beaches covered not only in sand but in vacationing families. People are sunbathing, building sandcastles, surfing and swimming. Their fun in the sun is cut short as they see a giant tidal wave building and rushing toward the coast. But as we are faced with similar scenes from around the world we realize that it isn’t just one beach that is threatened, but that gargantuan tsunamis are bearing down on every coastline of every continent of the world.

There are no messages, no communications or ultimatums. Just the realization that Death has caught the Big One, and he’s going to ride this wave all the way to humanity’s extinction.

But we get a reprieve. Just as the aliens pull the very oceans into massive waves to wash away our civilization, they stop them. The panicking masses notice this, and stare dumbfounded at walls of water as high as skyscrapers that stretch across the horizon.

Moore is certainly a literary genius, but the man isn't perfect. For whatever reason, perhaps due to the medium's limitations, in his novel the message is just as clear and unambiguous as in The Abyss, but instead of showing us, he tells us (via Veidt relating the intricacies of his plan to Rorshach and Nite Owl). Think of the opportunity that Zach Snyder has here, to expand upon the images Dave Gibbons created for the aftermath of the "invasion", by turning Moore's words into visual descriptions:

Veidt: "The brain was a psychic resonator. It would amplify a signal pulse and broadcast it, the signal triggered by the onset of death. We loaded a lot of information into that signal. Terrible information. Max Shea's descriptions of an alien world, Hira Manish's images, and Linette Paley's sounds…Other than those killed outright by shock, many will be driven mad by the sudden flood of grotesque sensation…and sensitives worldwide will have bad dreams for years to come. No one will doubt this Earth has a met a force so dreadful it must be repelled, all former enmities aside."

In my opinion this is an opportunity much like the one Peter Jackson and his team had with adapting The Lord of the Rings. Instead of even attempting it, Tse gives us an over-the-top ultimatum from a pseudo-Dr. Manhattan. And to add insult to injury, Tse maintains the disappointing ending written by Hayter with Veidt getting Hollywood's sense of justice.

As I mentioned earlier, this script by Tse has also been subjected to revision. Given Snyder's insistence on filming the story within the story, Tales of the Black Freighter for the film's DVD release, I can only hope his passion will bring an adaptation that Moore won't absolutely detest. Given the man's history with Hollywood adapting his material, it would be quite the victory. Best of luck Zach, I think you're going to need it.

 

 

 

Author: The CinCitizens

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