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No Squid For You!! 30 Minutes Of WATCHMEN Screens In UK & Snyder Talked 5th-dimensional Squidish Thingies!!

Merrick here...
Thirty minutes of WATCHMEN recently screened in UK, after which Zack Snyder and Dave Gibbons presented themselves for interrogation. Among the topics addressed was the rumor that multiple versions of the movie's ending exist, and Zack (once and for all) settled a question that has troubled so many for so long: To squid, or not to squid?
Jack Carter was there, and sent in this report...
Greetings from over the pond… On Friday I was lucky enough to attend what I believe was the first UK publicity event for Watchmen. They screened around 30 minutes of footage… if memory serves me correct this was the same three scenes that Moriarty reported on a while back… but the real points of interest came after the footage, where Zack Snyder & Dave Gibbons took the stage for a Q&A. Before I dive into what was said & what shown I just thought I’d point out that I’ve read the graphic novel. I only read it for the first time around 12 months ago, but straight away it gripped me & stood out against almost everything else I had read. What struck me most was the sheer depth to it… the characters, the story, the history & the politics. Watchmen really is one of the most outstanding & rewarding novels that I’ve come across. Zack introduced 3 segments of the film… the opening 10 minutes, Dr Manhattan on Mars & the rescuing of Rorschach. I know this footage has been covered in some detail on here before, but I just have to reiterate just how fantastic it all was. What struck me the most was the feelings the scenes provoked, especially when you consider that they weren’t being played in order or with context. The segment of Dr Manhattan on Mars was possibly my favourite part of the novel, and the film perfectly captures its poetic rhythm. I had to almost pinch myself that I was actually seeing this on the Cinema… Manhattan narrating his life and considering the notion of time & existence. Everything in this scene worked… the visuals, acting, pacing & sound. I can imagine that in many hands this would have been exorcised from the script, but here it was in all its glory and it literally gave me goosebumps. This section was the perfect companion piece to the jailbreak, which was both exhilarating and exciting, a shot of pure adrenalin. Best of all though was probably the opening scene, and in particular the title sequence. I know the titles have been lauded on here already, but I cannot stress enough how good they are. For those who don’t know, the titles basically provides a 6 minute history to the minutemen and the watchmen (as they are referred to in the film), all played out to the Bob Dylan classic ‘The Times They Are A-Changing’. I cannot think of a more creatively economical way that they could have done this… and it works perfectly to those who have read the novel as well as to those that are coming in cold. Seeing history being re-written infront of your eyes to fit in with the Watchmen universe is a great experience, and straight away makes you feel like you’re watching something special. I just wish I could watch it again now because there was so much detail to take in & so many bits that you can’t possibly take in on one viewing. And the choice of song… perfect. After the footage Zack Snyder & Dave Gibbons took questions from the audience on stage, including one brilliantly dim guy who managed to insult 300 (a great way to kick things off). When discussing the film I thought Zack came across really well… quite a dry sense of humor and an obvious passion for the source material. Many of the questions fielded were fairly unremarkable, but there were some interesting bits which I’ve outlined below. On being offered Watchmen: Interestingly Zack talked about when he first received the call on Watchmen (I believe as he was editing 300). Apparently during that first conversation Warner Brothers told him about how they were going to modernize the story… no cold war, no 80s setting and no Richard Nixon. I think it’s important to acknowledge this image for a minute, especially when trying to debate the ins & outs of the upcoming adaptation. Now we don’t know what we have on our hands until March ’09 but everything so far strikes the right cord and I truly believe we could have something special… a Watchmen to live up to the novel. But that thought about what it could have been… a diluted imitation of a superior story… well it just makes me glad that Snyder got on board. People can, and probably will, nit pick this thing to death… but we’re going to get a film that is committed to the source material from a director that wants to bring the ‘unfilmable’ to life. The main thing I wanted from this was for it to feel like a Watchmen film. Remember that feeling when you watched Batman & Robin or LOEXG… that feeling like you were watching something you knew, but no longer recognized. Watchmen could have gone down this route… it could have lost it’s complexity, moral ambiguity and its soul… but it hasn’t. When Rorschach is on screen… well damn that’s Rorschach! Snyder has always insisted that he’s a massive fan of the graphic novel, and I really think this shines through in the footage that I saw. He did also state about the initial pressure to bring this thing in as a PG-13, but that the studio has come around to the fact that it has to be an R (no doubt helped by the performance of 300). The Squid: (Dave Gibbons reaction… ‘its not a squid, it’s a 5th dimensional being’) Zack Snyder confirmed that the ending is the one seen in the recent test screenings. The ‘squid’ is definitely not in this thing… its not being hidden in a different ending… its gone… vanished… with the big calamari in the sky. This has created a fair amount of debate for obvious reasons, but I have to say that I side with the filmmakers on this one. Zack came out with a good summary for its exclusion. He only has a finite amount of time to play this thing out in cinemas… roughly 2.5 hours. Now to include the squid would have meant sacrificing a lot of the character to story, there’s just not enough time to play it both ways. And Watchmen lives and dies by its characters… it’s the dilemmas that they face and the decisions they make… it’s what they come to learn about the world & their place within it… that helps make the novel what it is. The essence of the ending is still intact… the characters still go through more unless the same progressions that they did in the novel. At the end of the day the ‘squid’ is a means to an end… the filmmakers have gone down a slightly different route, but the overall picture is still the same. Also it might not be something that fans want to consider, but this thing has to have a mass audience appeal and I don’t know if the majority of cinema-goers will buy the third act turning into Cloverfield 2. It sounds like Zack has gone into battle with the studio on a number of different things, and if the ‘squid’ is the sacrifice that needed to be made then so be it. I’d rather have a different mechanic within the films climax, then a PG-13 or modern day Watchmen. Dave Gibbons was in absolute support of this decision as well… he stated how this has been the best film project that he’s worked on to date & that the most important thing was to maintain the integrity of the graphic novel, something that has been done. Whilst we’re on the ending…. They also confirmed that the final scene is the same as the novel with regards to Rorschach’s journal being found. Watchmen & mainstream audiences Zack was asked the question that many people are wondering ‘how will this play to unsuspecting audiences… do you think they are ready for it?’ He came out with something along the lines of… ‘People have got complacent. Sure they like to see something safe like Spiderman, but people are always waiting for it to be taken to new level. The Dark Knight was like a poke in the eye, but this will really shake their shit up’. Now there’s no denying that Watchmen is a difficult sell, and I’m sure there will be a lot of people who just don’t ‘get it’… but it was reassuring to see how much faith Zack has in the ability of the source material to find an audience. He brought up Superman, saying ‘I always wondered if you had these powers, how far would you take it? I mean it’s all good flying around putting out fires, but wouldn’t you just go & grab all the political leaders, put them In a room, and force them to sort their shit out?’. To Snyder it seemed like Watchmen was all about that question… about how far Veidt was willing to take things & the impact this had on the other characters & their pre-conceptions of heroism. It turned the idea of the villain onto its head & into a moral dilemma. How do you define the term villain? Is someone a villain because of a course of action? Or could inaction, the failure to take responsibility, be just as critical to the world en mass? Zack seems to be hoping that the questions & the ambiguities of Watchmen play well with audiences, that they won’t mind having their intelligence tackled as they eat their popcorn. We will have to wait until next March to see if that happens, but I really hope that he’s right. The DVD Snyder also discussed the DVD at some length. As well as the theatrical cut there is to be a 3.5 hour version that incorporates the novels ‘comic within a comic’, The Black Freighter. This will take the form of animated segments ala Kill Bill. He also noted that they are creating a documentary based around Hollis Mason’s ‘Under The Hood’ memoirs for the DVD release. In many respects I’m looking forward to the DVD more then the film because it’s going to be such a rewarding experience having the full spectrum of the novel brought to life. I know you can’t judge a film from 30 minutes of footage and there is a chance that the filmmakers could drop the ball, but from what I saw this thing is in good hands. It really did feel like the pages of the novel were appearing before me on the cinema screen & the emotions that I felt when I read Watchmen were the same ones I experienced in the Cinema on Friday. It doesn’t matter what I or anyone else says… this thing will be debated through & through such is the level of fan-dom. I’ve tried to refrain from too much hyperbole in this write up… but to hell with it… I think Synder’s Watchmen is going to be incredible. In years to come when you’ve watched it umpteen times on DVD I don’t think you’re going to look back and think of things like the ‘squid’… I think you’re just going to remember how much it kicked your arse when you saw it come to life in the Cinema. I can’t wait… roll on March. If you use this call me Jack Carter

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