WatchMen Opening Credits/Alternate History

I wonder if I am the only one on this site who found himself in a late night screening of Watchmen on Thursday or Friday of last week…

Anyway, I really enjoyed the montage in the beginning of the film that sets up the alternate history. It was a very creative touch to bring the audience up to speed, set to “Times They are a-Changing” by Bob Dylan. The Watchmen opening credits clip can be seen here for the time being. If that link doesn’t work, you may find a new clip of it on YouTube that  has not yet been removed because of its copyrighted status. The few I found were taken down in a matter of hours.

I just wanted to comment on some of the things in that montage. You see, the trouble with doing an alternate history is that it may be lost on those who are not familiar with actual history. I found that many of the people waiting in line with me were barely old enough to get a ticket.  Many were clearly not versed in historical Americana. For example, I started laughing as soon as I saw Silhoutte walking up to the nurse after you see the “Japan Surrenders” headline on V-J day. The scene is an alternate history/parody of the sailor kissing the nurse in the famous WWII picture below (notice that the sailor was in the background of the montage scene). But I awkwardly found that I was the only one laughing until she planted a smooch on the nurses lips. I think they were laughing only because they saw two girls kiss. Haha. Lesbians.

Image taken the day victory was declared over Japan, ending the war

Image taken the day victory was declared over Japan, ending the war.

I also read a comment on Youtube to effect that the writer was disturbed by the image of the girl putting a flower in the barrel of a gun, then getting shot. That’s understandable, but he seemed oblivious of the actual historical significance of that image. It is from another famous war picture, shown below. Because of the similarity between the image below and the film shot in watchmen, I think I had better make clear that in reality the soldiers did not open fire. That too is alternate history.
Picture taken at 1967 war protest outside the Pentagon. It became a symbol of the innocence of the movement on one hand, and the disproportionate force used by the government on the other.

Picture taken at 1967 war protest outside the Pentagon. It became a symbol of the innocence of the peace movement on one hand, and the disproportionate use of force by the government on the other.

On a finer point, The JFK assassination has some noticeable differences with actual history (like the Comedian being the second gunman on the grassy knoll–a nice touch). If you watch the original footage, JFK’s head whips forward and the blood mist is to his front. The reenactment makes his head whip backward, and I think I can see blood spraying out behind him along the back of the car. This of course makes it appear that the shot came from the grassy knoll to JFK’s front, instead of coming from the book depository to his rear. I also like how the Comedian puffs his cigar right before he leaves, a possible reference to witnesses claiming to see smoke coming from the grassy knoll.

If you’re interested, here’s an ABC special that debunks the second gunman theory:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSBXW1-VGmM&feature=related

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One More Batman Post

So What? I like Batman. I still have comics from when I was kid. I checked the other day to see what my mint condition Batman vs. Predator set was worth. It has gone up in value about a nickel since 1993.

I was just going to say that I didn’t really like Batman Begins the first time I saw it because I didn’t understand what it was. It took them making The Dark Knight (2008) for me to realize that they were reinventing Batman. I thought it was supposed to be a prequel to Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman and Robin. I think this was because of its title, Batman’s age, the backstory of how Batman got his training, and an ending which almost seems to be a lead-in to the original Michael Keaton Batman (1989). Plus, Batman Begins (2005) comes on the heals of Batman and Robin (1997)–well, eight years anyway. It didn’t seem to make sense to reinvent a character that has been making movies pretty consistently since ’89. I thought it was just another chapter in the Michael Keaton set until I saw the new Batmobile. Jeez! It was an Armored Personel Carrier! I thought, “What the hell is this, anyway?”

But lets face it–Batman needed reinventing. The series had gotten pretty tired. I couldn’t get over Arny’s cheezy puns as Mr. Freeze and the glow in the dark paint on gang members in Batman and Robin. They couldn’t even find a guy who wanted to be Batman for more than one show. The Batmobile itself had evolved into a winged monstrosity, not unlike the whole series.

The Batman Begins team reinvented Batman by getting back to the basics. The creators seem to incorporate more elements from the comics and The Animated Series. The film integrates Lucius Fox, combining Batman’s mechanic (in the animated series Batman had a personal mechanic) and the number-one-guy from Wayne Enterprises. They also throw in the Ninja Training as I’ve already mentioned, and the ScareCrow/Arkham Asylum. In one scene in Batman Begins, Doctor Crane/Scarecrow testifies that “Mr. Zsasz” is a danger to himself and others and should be confined at the Asylum. Zsasz is actually a knife murderer from the comics, but is not well known. The writers seem to be throwing in clues to loyal fans, saying “hey guys, we know what we’re talking about.”

*SPOILER ALERT*

One other way they reinvented Batman is through the concept of major and minor villians. In Batman Begins, Scarecrow was a minor villian with Ra’s Al Ghul as the major. The big duke-out was with the major villian, and beating the minor villian creates one more smaller climax in the story. To contrast with this concept, call up that disgusting partnership between Two face and the Riddler from Batman Forever (1995).

In The Dark Knight, the Joker is the major and Two-Face the minor. But here, Harvey Dent actually turns from a secondary hero to the secondary villian, Two-face. Instead of providing a small climax as Crane/Scarecrow did, Two Face acts under the Joker’s influence to create a two part climax. The Joker has waged a war for Gotham’s soul on two fronts. One front attacks the people directly by trying to destroy their morality–will they kill the other boat full of people to save their own lives? The other front attacks the people’s heroes, attempting to destroy people’s hope when they find out what their heroes can become. These two attacks parallel each other and the major difference is in scale. The conflict for the soul of Harvey Dent is much more personal than the large scale of the two ships full of people and explosives. It is a smaller parallel to destroying the soul of Gotham, destroying the soul of its “White Night.” Ultimately, Harvey Dent/Two Face was a smaller player, even though both sides try to use him to accomplish their own ends. His importance is played up so that his fall from grace and subsequent death are more tragic.

I submit that you can’t have a story of such quality without having an internally conflicted and expendable hero. The war between good and evil must have casualties.

Which brings us to the true reinvention of Batman–dynamic characters, insane twists, and true conflict–Batman films with stories.

Why I’m already thinking the new Indiana Jones movie is going to stink.

SHIAAAA!!!!Now, I haven’t got anything against Shia Lebeouf in particular.  I think he did a just fine job in Transformers and voicing Asbel in Nausicaa.  Heck, Holes was one of my favorite movies.  No, the potential problem is this:

George Lucas’ endless pandering.

I’ve heard 2 stories.  One of them says that George Lucas is directing the film.  One says that it’s Steven Spielberg.  If it’s Steve-o, then I’m less worried.  As a seasoned director I believe he can get a good performance out of pretty much anybody.  If it’s Lucas…

Lucas…

Well, then I think we’ll end up with another Hollywood Homicide, and I know nobody wants that to happen.

See, Lucas panders.  He wants to be cool to everybody.  If this is Lucas’ show (and even having him attached makes me feel like this could happen,) then we may end up having a Shia Lebeouf character that acts exactly like the Transformers character.

You may say, ” I liked Transformers.  What’s the problem?”

The problem is that the Indiana Jones trilogy was built on a certain kind of character and story.  Indy never needed anybody to make him cool.  In fact the third movie adds an un-cool dad to simply prove to moviegoers just how cool he is.  The humor is built on dry wit and awesomeness.  Not awkward conversations with parents about masturbation.  Lucas will try to pull another jar-jar and appeal to the largest common denominator, negating anything good about the movie by offending his core audience.  And why?  For money, of course.

You would think that eventually these people would remember that what made them so much money in the first place was sticking to artistic vision.  Maybe there’s something to that.

No Disassemble!

An item of interest:  Johnny 5 is now for sale on ebay.  Starting bid: 100000

Hang on, I think I got a piece of gundam stuck in my eye.

Somebody out there in the murky realms of cyberspace has got it into his head that Gundam is cool and nothing else involving robots is.  He doesn’t come out and say it on this article, but he takes the time to say how cool it is to see some full-size model of a gundam that you can climb into and play video games inside of, then insinuates that the gundam, if in fact real (like the transformers are), would be kicking optimus prime’s shiny metal tailpipe.  Clearly this person thinks the bigger the robot the better.  I would say something about evangelion but instead I made an illustration of  why no gundam nor any other robot or robot suit can beat transformers for sheer size.  The word, my friends, is Unicron.

Hmm.  Think I'll have a nice tasty deathstar appetizer before consuming a full size planet.

Let that be a lesson to you.

-Greg

Transformers: A Review.

Greg and I decided a while ago that the world needs fewer professional reviews and more reviews written by the people who actually go to movies because they might be fun.  I haven’t read any of the reviews written by the “professional” critics and I don’t plan to.  Most of you know what my criteria for an awesome movie are.  The rest of you will soon find out.

Transformers is easliy the most explodey movie I have ever seen.  Also, there are tons of fast cars, cool weapons, m4d pwn4g3 by Optimus and Bumblbee, and other things that will make any nerd squeal with delight.  I loved it!  I can’t wait to go again.  I recommend this movie to anyone who likes the aforementioned things and especially to anyone who grew up watching the original Transformers Cartoon.  I give it a Total Awesome.

I see it as a matter of fulfillment of prophecy. Yes. The end of the world.

It’s the end of the world.  There’s no other possible explanation for the horrors seen among us in these last days.  Yea verily I want to claw my face off and cast yon bullets at mine neighbor who didst bring forth the horrors.. est.  I offer scriptoral proof of my fears:

Rev. 17: 4-5

  1. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand afull of abominations and bfilthiness of her fornication:

    5 And upon her forehead was a name written, aMYSTERY, bBABYLON THE GREAT, THE cMOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

BEHOLD! THE ABOMINATION OF THE WHOLE EARTH!