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Watchmen: How It Could Have Been A Lot Worse

custom-rorschach-mighty-mugg-by-kscSo I got around to seeing Watchmen this weekend. I don't think I have any particular insights that you haven't read elsewhere--I was pleased to see that they didn't dumb down the plot too much, although I still found the whole movie somewhat sterile and unconvincing. In particular the acting was woefully uneven, rendering many of the critical characters unbelievable. The Silk Spectre in particular felt incredibly flat, except for the bosoms, which--if I recall correctly--weren't.

I mean it wasn't a disaster, but there's honestly not much to recommend about it. I wasn't exactly surprised by this either--there was no reason to suspect a novel as dense as the Watchmen would ever make a satisfying film that clocked in under four hours. Either the plot would be changed entirely, or the character development would get cut down, or the brilliant parallels and contrasts would be lost. And it's not just me, some wild-eyed nutcake, who thought this would be the case. The original wild-eyed nutcake, Alan Moore, himself once said, "I didn't design [Watchmen] to show off the similarities between cinema and comics, [...] It was designed to show off the things that comics could do that cinema and literature couldn't."

And when you think about it like that, the fact that Hollywood made a Watchman movie and it came out actually recognizable as the Watchmen is pretty amazing. Considering the sort of turd burritos that often come out of Hollywood, this could have been worse. Like thus, perhaps:

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INT. DAN DREIBURG'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

RORSCHACH is sitting at the kitchen table, eating BEANS. DAN enters, turning on the kitchen light.

RORSCHACH:

Hello Daniel. Helped myself to some beans. Hope you don't mind.

DAN:

Not at all. What brings you here?

RORSCHACH:

The Comedian's dead.

RORSCHACH flicks the blood stained button onto the table. Daniel examines it.

DAN:

You don't think...

RORSCHACH:

That's right Daniel. The Russians. The Crimson Discharge are on the move. We've got to get the team back together.

DAN punches the wall.

DAN:

All right. Let's saddle up.

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EXT. ROCKEFELLER MILITARY RESEARCH CENTER - NIGHT

A dark and rainy night. RORSCHACH breaks in to visit his old friends.

INT. ROCKEFELLER MILITARY RESEARCH CENTER - NIGHT

A brightly lit research laboratory. Large machines do science in the background. Rorschach walks around a corner.

DR. MANHATTAN:

Hello, Rorschach.

RORSCHACH looks up to see DR. MANHATTAN, two stories tall, wearing nothing but a towel.

manhattan-towel

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INT. WATCHMAN HEADQUARTERS - NIGHT

A parlor with enormous padded chairs gathered around a large easel. SILK SPECTRE II, NITE OWL II, RORSCHACH, OZYMANDIAS, DR. MANHATTAN and CHESTER are there.

OZYMANDIAS gestures at the easel, looking pensive.

OZYMANDIAS:

We'll split up into two groups. Doc, you and Laurie will fly into Afghanistan and fight the Russians there. Myself, Nite Owl and Rorschach will search for clues in the sewers of Paris.

CHESTER:

What about me? You can't leave me behind again!

NITE OWL II:

You're too young Chester. This isn't kid's stuff.

CHESTER:

But I'm not a kid any more.

CHESTER runs at a wall, getting two full paces up it before doing a back flip. He lands on his feet, and makes a complicated movement with his arms that looks martial artsy. OZYMANDIAS watches, stroking his chin.

OZYMANDIAS:

We could use the help...

DR. MANHATTAN:

Agreed. Chester will make a fine addition to our force.

DR. MANHATTAN wiggles his nose. A costume appears on CHESTER. He is now TEEN NITE OWL.

TEEN SILK SPECTRE enters and sees TEEN NITE OWL.

TEEN SILK SPECTRE:

Congratulations little brother!

SILK SPECTRE II glares at DR. MANHATTAN, who is staring at TEEN SILK SPECTRE. An erection is clearly visible in the loose gym shorts he's wearing.

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EXT. MOLOCH'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

RORSCHACH comes crashing through the second story window of MOLOCH's apartment. He is immediately set upon by half a dozen police officers, who manage to take him to the ground after an intense struggle. They tear off the mask, to reveal GARY COLEMAN's face, straining with anger.

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crimson-cyborgEXT. BUSY FREEWAY - DAY

SILK SPECTRE II lands atop the moving tractor trailer with balletic grace. Behind her, DRAGO flexes his muscles. They fight, a hyperkinetic ballet of devastating punches and barely parried kicks.

CUT TO - NITE OWL II, flying ARCHIE along the highway, zooming along beneath overpasses, rubbing cars out of the way. Two bright red CYBORGS trail behind him on motorcycles, scattering bullets wildly at him.

NITE OWL II:

Time to turn and burn baby.

NITE OWL II flips the control stick, sending ARCHIE into a reverse 180. ARCHIE flies backwards, colliding with cars left and right. NITE OWL II selects missiles on his control stick and fires. Thirty missiles come arcing out of ARCHIE's vents, contrails trailing behind them. A cataclysm of explosions obliterate the two CYBORGS.

NITE OWL II:

Lock and load baby!

SILK SPECTRE II and DRAGO continue their fight. SILK SPECTRE II barely ducks an oncoming overpass, and is thrown off balance. DRAGO knocks her to the floor with a fierce punch. She lies winded, as DRAGO advances on her, murder in his eyes. Suddenly DRAGO is cut in two by a burst of machine gun fire from ARCHIE.

NITE OWL II:

Show me the beef baby!

SILK SPECTRE II springs to her feet, and runs to the back of the truck, where the KEYMAKER lies cowering. She scoops him up and jumps to the roof of ARCHIE. The tractor trailer explodes behind them.

__

INT. KARNAK, OZYMANDIAS'S SECRET LAIR - DAY (Everything looks very TECHNO-EGYPTIANY, but not in a Stargate way.)

NITE OWL II:

You're a goddamned traitor, Veidt! I can't believe the master of capitalism seeks to destroy it for his red masters. Well, we won't let you get away with it.

OZYMANDIAS:

Oh really Dan? What are you going to do about it? Did you really expect me to explain my masterstroke if there was the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it 35 minutes ago.

RORSCHACH:

Not without this you didn't!

RORSCHACH holds up the real MANHATTANITE, which he had switched out on OZYMANDIAS during the deal in MIAMI.

OZYMANDIAS:

Nooooooooooooooo!

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INT. KARNAK - MAIN HALL - DAY

The two opposing forces square off across the room, the WATCHMEN on the right, the CRIMSON DISCHARGE on the left. At an unspoken signal, they engage in combat with their counterparts.

DR. MANHATTAN grapples with THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, the pair of them rolling outside where they grow to titanic size, striding across the Antarctic landscape, exchanging helicopter kicks and ion blasts. They lock in a clench, eyes burning. Suddenly THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION breaks his grasp, twisting his opponent around. From behind, he seizes DR. MANHATTAN by his DIAPER, yanking it violently upward. A CRY emits from DR. MANHATTAN's mouth that splits the heavens. A sick grin spreads across THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION's face, as he twists the diaper in his cruel hands. Suddenly the diaper rips, freeing DR. MANHATTAN. He falls to the ground and immediately sweeps the leg, sending THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION to a distant galaxy with his mighty blow.

nite-owl-teen-nite-owlProposed costume design for Nite Owl II (left) and Teen Nite Owl (right)

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INT. KARNAK - DAY

NITE OWL II and TEEN NITE OWL chase OZYMANDIAS, the walls of KARNAK crumbling around them. They round a corner only to be confronted by BUBASTIS, the genetically modified lynx. BUBASTIS pounces at the pair, who cartwheel out of the way. Cornered, NITE OWL II reaches into his belt and produces several LINKS OF SAUSAGE which he throws at the cat. They scramble past her while distracted, only to be deafened by the roar of jet exhaust. OZYMANDIAS has climbed into an his PLANE shaped like a HAMMER and SICKLE, which launches down a narrow runway into the Antarctic sky.

TEEN NITE OWL:

He got away!

NITE OWL II:

Sometimes the bad guys get away Chester.

TEEN NITE OWL:

But it's not fair!

SILK SPECTRE II enters, her costume torn in the appropriate places.

NITE OWL II:

Don't look so glum Chester. At least we won the battle.

SILK SPECTRE II:

And we got the girl.

NITE OWL II:

Oh hell yeah!

NITE OWL II and SILK SPECTRE II kiss passionately. TEEN NITE OWL looks on, embarrassed. "IN THE END" by LINKIN PARK begins playing as the credits roll.

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