Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Watchmen: A Review

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen or don't know the story to the Watchmen, don't read this blog. I'd hate to ruin it for you.  

This is a review of the movie, not the graphic novel, which I hear is quite different and certainly more complete. The movie's plot concerns a group of former superheroes, called The Watchmen, who are being picked off one by one by an unknown murderer. The living, naturally, want to figure out who this is.  Side plots include avoiding a nuclear holocaust, a series of failed or corrupted relationships, and the dehumanization of a mutated physicist named Dr. Manhattan.  But really, I do the plot very little justice. 

The film suffers from having three competing artistic visions rather than a unified one.  To begin, it cannot decide how it would like to represent the comic book world.  At times, it would like to make fun of comics, with bam-boom-pow, 1950s Batman-like fighting scenes and lines from the evil villain like, "I'm not going to reveal my plan to you. What do you think I am, an evil villain in a comic book?" This approach could have been quite a bit of fun, if they'd stuck to it.  But then the characters would drop melodramatically out of airships or strut across the screen in purple-and-gold tights delivering serious lines about a nuclear holocaust without a trace of humor, as if they'd forgotten they were, just a few scenes earlier, making a parody of the comic genre.  

Alongside these 2 versions of the same film was yet another fighting to get through the macabre, violence-laden storyline: that of a post 9-11 vision of the United States.  The graphic novel, which was written in the mid-80s, imagines what would have happened if nuclear war between Russia and the US hadn't been averted (or had, in a way . . . well, I don't have time to explain that). The directors of this movie reinterpreted it to be both about the graphic novel's original concern -- war with Russia -- and the terrorist attacks on New York City.  While they occasionally make the parallels, showing shots of the twin towers still standing, ready to fall, they do not do so faithfully, making their point clear only when the film ends, as they pan out to show a gaping hole a nuclear explosion has left in NYC.  The hole is the construction site for the 9-11 towers, suggesting we have already survived our own near-annihilation.  

But since the graphic novel was already such a complicated story, these three artistic visions fight each other the entire way, struggling to stay faithful to the novel for all of its die-hard fans while simultaneously trying to mock the genre, honor the genre, and turn it into a political commentary that it only barely mentions and at the most inconvenient times in the film.  

These factors, coupled with the gratuitous sex and violence which add nothing to a story that was fascinating all its own, made it a disappointment to say the least.  

Friday, March 13, 2009

On Pet Ownership

These are just 2 of our 5 animals. While most blogs on pet ownership might be about the joys of playing with these precious creatures, this one won't be. I am certainly a blessed pet-owner; don't get me wrong. Wormwood, the kitten, provides endless entertainment. Sierra and Brinkley have grown up to be loving dog-companions. Chloe and Allie, our first animals, continue to be an important part of the furry family. 

However, lately the hairy children in our household have been quite a handful. Chloe has been quarantined and put on cat-paxil for an anxiety disorder that causes her to ruin anything that's fabric.  And today Worm had to go to the vet to be neutered, which meant no food or water after 7 PM last night.  THAT meant that at 4 AM he decided to let me know how he felt about what was apparently cruel and unusual punishment by biting me in the ear, bringing me out of REM and into a panic-stricken state of semi-alertness.  "Mrow?"  he asked.  I told him to go away and put my face under the pillow.  So he burrowed under the covers and bit me in the chin.  "Mrow!"  I get it but there's nothing I can do. I shove him off of the bed.  He sneaks under the bedclothes and nips me in the big toe.  "Mrrrrrrow," he adds, as if perhaps I am dense.  I try to put him outside, but he's a young tomcat, and it is as if I have channeled his voice into a bullhorn.  "Mrow mrow mrrrrroooowwwwwwww," he protests, upping his volume so he can be heard from inside my bedroom.  I let him back in. 

Just as I am about to fall back to sleep, the yellow cat, Allie, lets me know that, while she hates Worm, the two have formed a union.  She entwines herself in the wooden blinds next to my face and starts batting the blind-pull against the wall.  It's now 4:30 AM.  THWACK. THWACK. THWACK THWACK THWACK.  I shoo her.  I'm almost asleep when Worm bites me on the ear again, and Allie THWACKS the blind-pull at the same time.  They are certain I am an idiot.  And I must be, because I try to spray Allie with lavender linen spray, only in the dark I have turned the nozzle towards my own eye.  I give the pump a good hard push and cover my face with the stuff, getting it in my mouth and eyelashes, which causes me to sputter and the cat to fall out of the blinds, soundly knocking over my eyeglasses and a bedside lamp.  Andrew groans.

This cycle repeats itself for 2 hours until my alarm (needlessly) sounds. As I finally get Allie off of my head (where she is attempting to sit to draw attention to her lack of food and water) and Worm in the pet taxi, I turn around to find Chloe-the-quarantined-cat has escaped from the sun porch and is now standing in the living room, ready to demolish our new living room furniture we added because she ruined the old.  

I sigh and realize it is going to be a very, very long day.