Saturday, February 07, 2009

What has two thumbs and watches the Watchmen? This guy!

Yeah, I know I'm behind on some of my end-of-the-week blogging like "Burn Notice" and "The Beast" and such(*), but right now, the thing I'm most geeked-up about isn't on TV, but the 18 or so minutes of "Watchmen" that I got to see (along with 1,000 of my closest friends) this afternoon at the New York Comic-Con.

(*)Insert obligatory disclaimer about how I'm only one man who can't always watch and write about shows in as timely a fashion as those sites that have a nation of millions to cover all of primetime.

After the jump, some brief, non-spoiler-y thoughts on the footage, plus a recap of McG's attempt to do damage control for the Christian Bale rant while plugging "Terminator: Salvation"...

I never watched all of "300," because I wasn't a big fan of the Frank Miller comic, but what I did see made it clear that Zack Snyder was almost slavishly devoted to the source material, and what they showed at the Con -- the first 18 minutes, plus a snippet of the cafeteria scene -- suggested Snyder was continuing that trend with "Watchmen." Obviously, he's not going to be able to squeeze in every detail of a sprawling 12-part epic, what he has included feels very much like the Moore/Gibbons comic come to life. And the opening credit sequence pretty brilliantly synopsizes a lot of the historical material that the comic had to detail in all those prose pieces at the end of each issue. There's even one scene in there, involving Silhouette from The Minutemen, that Dave Gibbons admitted he wished he and Alan Moore had thought to include in the book.

And even if the rest of the movie is terrible (which I doubt), I'm going to be a first-day (possibly first showing) ticket buyer if only to see more of Jackie Earle Haley, who could not be more perfect casting as Rorshach. I got chills watching him in the cafeteria scene. It almost feels like all those previous aborted attempts to film "Watchmen" were destined to fail until Haley was both old enough and had resurrected his career, because I couldn't imagine any other actor being as right for the part.

As for "Terminator: Salvation," the footage was still pretty rough (large chunks of the F/X scenes were either partially or fully-animated, and none of the wire-work had been digitally erased yet), but the explosions looked as pretty as they do in all McG films, and Bale seemed typically intense.

The infamous rant (is there anyone who hasn't listened to the thing by now?) came up a few times. Early on, there was some feedback on McG's mic, and someone from the crowd yelled out, "F---ing unprofessional!!!!" As the crowd laughed, McG smiled and said, "I don't understand." The first question during the audienc Q&A was about how McG reacted to the incident, and McG bellowed out a Bale-style "What don't you f---ing understand?!?!?!" (also to big crowd laughter), then went on to say that they worked out the problem that day on the set, Bale apologized then (and is apologizing again now), and they got back to making the movie. He suggested that, while Bale was out of line, the thing that troubled him more was that someone involved in making the movie leaked broke omerta and leaked the clip, saying that movie sets should be places where people can feel free to express opinions and even let off steam without fearing that TMZ will get involved(**).

(**) While Bale's behavior was wrong, I kind of agree with McG on this point. This may have been an extreme outburst in its volume and its length, but I know people have been having vocal creative differences on movie sets pretty much since movies have been made. Can you imagine if people had iPhones or other digital recording devices in the days when Frank Sinatra, or Marilyn Monroe, or John Belushi were movie stars? I know the gossip industry is one of the few sectors of our economy that's still booming, but I miss the days when we didn't find out every piece of dirt that went down behind the scenes.

Later on, at the end of answering yet another Bale rant question, McG admitted, "That remix is pretty hot."


pgillan said...

I think the mashup with Bill O'Reilly, where Christian Bale is yelling at him from off screen, is absolutely brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report. Looking forward to your thoughts on the Chuck panel tomorrow.

BReak a leg!

R.A. Porter said...

My only worry is that Snyder's love of ramping is going to pull me out of the experience. It shows up in the trailers quite a bit for their length.

Did he use it much in that 18 minutes? And if so, did it feel distracting?

David Clarke said...

I'm a bit iffy about the prospect of a Watchmen film, but from what you say and what all my friends say who saw the panel, I'm moving forward with cautious optimism.

Can't wait to see your Chuck panel tomorrow.

Craig Ranapia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig Ranapia said...

*sigh* I guess you couldn't ignore it when it came up, but I was hoping this would be the one blog I read that had nothing to say about Bale-gate.

Don't know about anyone else but my outrage-o-meter is more stimulated by this item (hat-tip Nikki Finke):


Wall street lawyers, investment bankers, CEOs and media executives often used corporate credit cards to pay for $2,000 an hour prostitutes, according to the madam who ran one of New York's biggest and most expensive escort services until it was busted last year.

One of the persons involved was identified as "a vice president of NBC Universal" -- which must be cold comfort for the hundreds who were getting laid off while an executive was just getting laid on the company dime.

R.A. Porter said...

@Craig, that might help explain NBC's lineup. Less blood to feed the brain = Knight Rider + Kath and Kim.

Nicole said...

While the rant has lead to much internet awesomeness, like the dance remix and the O'Reilly mash up, I do wonder why the audio was released now and not in July when it actually happened. Could this be some weird type of publicity? If Bale had that bad of a reputation, we would have heard stories from his movies, and not have stories about how this DP normally a jerk on set anyway.

For a variation on the theme, you also need to check out the Colbert Report with Steve Martin as guest. There was much ranting on that episode as well, but Colbert style.

I don't read comic books, or graphic novels in any form, but the Watchmen trailer has piqued my interest, so I am looking forward to seeing it in the summer.

Antid Oto said...

I am convinced that no Hollywood version of the Watchmen could ever be made without changing the ending, and if they do change the ending I will be royally pissed off. I am therefore expecting to hate it.

dark tyler said...

What I don't quite understand is when and why did film became such market filler. And comic-book form become nothing but a storyboard for directors who have nothing original to say on their own. How demeaning. So we're supposed to be celebrating because Zack Snyder treated one the greatest books ever written as a storyboard with some cool/silly slo-mo moves by Rorshach thrown in?

I'd say I feel for Alan Moore, only he doesn't even care. 'The book is safe on the shelf' etc etc.

Anonymous said...

pgillan-- You beat me to it. Definitely the best.

Also, for you getting to see the Watchmen/doing the Chuck panel, I'm quite jealous of Alan this week.

Anonymous said...

I was interested in the Watchmen movie, but then I started watching the 'Watchmen Motion Comic'. It is so good, so brilliant, so perfect, that I have no excitement leading up to the live-action movie. The perfect adaptation has been done, gentlemen, and Chapters 1-10 are available on iTunes.

Anonymous said...

Rick: I'm checking that out ASAP.

Alan: Frankly, I still am out on this film. I'm gonna see it, but my hopes are pretty low. I just can't stand this director at all. The only thing he has done that has grabbed me at all was the pre-credit sequence of DOTD, which was so scary and brilliant (making the rest of the film feel pedestrian). It was all in the editing.

As for the whole McG thing. Any guy who calls himself that is an ass. Sorry, but the truth. The funniest hting in the Bale rant is when Bale addresses him as "McG." I LOL @ that nugget. Check out Herzog/Kinski for how you defuse such a situation. That's professionalism. McG just wimps out cause he knows Bale can kick his ass (anyone can). You know, as well as we all do, that NO ONE would do this on an Eastwood or Nolan set.

Anonymous said...

Alas. Watchment should have been a 12 hour HBO series rather than a two hour film by a hack.

Anonymous said...

I do wonder why the audio was released now and not in July when it actually happened. Could this be some weird type of publicity? If Bale had that bad of a reputation, we would have heard stories from his movies, and not have stories about how this DP normally a jerk on set anyway.

Bale has a good rep from everything I've heard (which is a lot, hee hee). I don't know anything about the DP, though.

Also, I am wicked jealous that you got to see all that Watchmen footage, Alan. Wicked, wicked jealous.