The Watchmen panel was the highlight of my time at the San Francisco Wonder-Con. Probably because I have been anticipating this film since it was published as a graphic novel. After hearing a mix of reviews about the film I was slightly apprehensive about attending the panel and seeing the first 20 minutes of the film. Especially because most reviews have said that those 20 minutes are incredible, and the rest of the film is sort of a let down.
Keeping with the trend, I too can confirm that those 20 minutes are absolutely awesome. Not just in the way that it’s visually presented on the screen, but in the way that director Zack Snyder chose to begin the film with a montage of the history of the Minutemen, the original group of masked heroes in the story.
After the montage, the most notable thing about the Watchmen clip was Jackie Earl Haley’s portrayal of the story’s epic anti-hero, Rorschach. When asked about the voice he used for Rorschach, Haley said it was what he heard in his head while reading the graphic novel.
"There was something about the little speech bubbles. The way they were written and the way they were drawn. Zack and I even thought to try something else, but in the end it's what worked."
Snyder indicated that parts of the montage that were cut, a sequence having the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) raise the flag at Iwo Jima and Nixon’s Inauguration were omitted from the montage in the film’s final cut.
Although, depending on the reception of Watchmen, both would be provided in the director’s cut of the film, in addition to the death of the original Nite Owl, Hollis Mason. The director’s cut of the film is planned for theatrical release in July of 2009.
Snyder joked that the final cut of the film will not have an abundance of Dr. Manhattan’s nudity, but that somewhere it does exist and for the people that need more blue nudity and more violence. So never fear blue nudity lovers, according to Snyder your wishes will eventually be granted.
He also noted that the film in it’s entirety would be released on the director’s cut of the DVD. It would incorporate the cut scenes plus the animated version of The Black Freighter carefully integrated into the film in the same way it is laid out in the graphic novel.
Snyder said he has been asked about the possibility of a sequel by the European media:
"It's a surprising question to me because it's impossible to even think about. It's like the sequel to Moby Dick. The studios, when i got the first call they said, 'Hey, we have the script for the movie Watchmen. We think it's based on the graphic novel.' At that point it was PG-13, It ended with (The Nite Owl) killing a certain someone and he had a certain catch phrase in in the end."
From the sounds of it, Snyder not only saved the film, but prevented it from becoming massacred by Hollywood executives. Most importantly, the carefully crafted structure of the graphic novel seemed to be upheld in the clip that I saw. This does not mean it continues throughout the film, but from what I could tell, it appeared to uphold the integrity of the book, which was one of my major concerns. Hopefully, we won’t be let down this week, but I suppose the only way to find that out is to go out and catch the film.
Watchmen opens on March 6th.