The Watchmen

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

I don't think A.O. Scott is a fan of the movie. But this part is funny:

Indeed, the ideal viewer -- or reviewer, as the case may be -- of the "Watchmen" movie would probably be a mid-'80s college sophomore with a smattering of Nietzsche, an extensive record collection and a comic-book nerd for a roommate. The film's carefully preserved themes of apocalypse and decay might have proved powerfully unsettling to that anxious undergraduate sitting in his dorm room, listening to "99 Luftballons" and waiting for the world to end or the Berlin Wall to come down.

He would also no doubt have been stirred by the costumes of the female superheroes -- Carla Gugino and Malin Akerman, both gamely giving solid performances -- who sensibly accessorize their shoulder-padded spandex leotards with garter belts and high-heeled boots. And the dense involution of the narrative might have seemed exhilarating rather than exhausting.

I'm not sure that this hypothetical young man -- not to be confused with the middle-aged, 21st-century moviegoer he most likely grew into, whose old copy of "Watchmen" lies in a box somewhere alongside a dog-eared Penguin Classics edition of "Thus Spake Zarathustra" -- would necessarily say that Mr. Snyder's "Watchmen" is a good movie. I wouldn't, though it is certainly better than the same director's "300."

I think I'm mostly done with comic book movies, and big budget movies in general. I don't think (with a few exceptions) that they're made for me. Which is fine. But the more comic book movies I see, the more I value the imaginative space created by books. It's a great thing when your imagination is matched by the movie. I'm thinking that scene in the first Spiderman when Parker first swings on the webs to catch his Uncle's killer. Or that opening Nightcrawler scene in X2. Or the scene in the first Batman where Bruce Wayne is bumrushed by bats, and stands up and they all fly over him.

Pretty great stuff. But more and more, I'm feeling like I'd like to keep my memories, and perserve my imagination. This is mostly personal. A bad movie really exacts a psychic toll on me. Kenyatta can sit back and enjoy the experience. For me it's excruciating and I can't leave it at the theater. I tend to be over-sensitive. And so the more information I take in--audio, visual, text--the harder it is for me to let it go.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2009/03/the-watchmen/6826/