The return of UNDER THE RADAR Vol2 Issue 2! Part 1 of 2!

“Must we start every sup, with who we love and who we don’t?” —Peter O’Toole in the LION IN WINTER


Okay it’s that time again. My recommendation for comic books/graphic novels to preorder now for January 2011 arrival.

If while going though the below list you see any titles that you want to purchase current or backissues of go

here.

But first, what is UNDER THE RADAR?

UNDER THE RADAR was an experiment I started a while ago that I was quite proud of. Basically a very cool PDF I launched out to comic book retailers and fans to highlight titles you would otherwise miss, or get lost in the deluge from bigger publishers flooding the market.

It was fun, and very intensive, and very time consuming, so when time became an issue it fell by the wayside.

But I notice my old UNDER THE RADAR posts get a lot of hits, and even though a lot of people are doing preview podcasts (audio/radio-like programs dedicated to recommending items to preorder), those can be quite time consuming, when what most people are looking for is a quickly viewed list of recommended items they might otherwise miss.

So with that in mind, UNDER THE RADAR is back, but in a FAR simpler format. No PDF, no long diatribes. just a monthly listing of new titles to preorder or be on the lookout for.

Okay without further ado, this is a list of titles you can preorder this month through your local retailer for January 2011 arrival.


Marvel

No letters pages, no back matter, ads breaking up the story.

All these odd decisions from Marvel give no incentive to buy marvel issues monthly. Seemingly, they don’t care enough to give you a something beyond what you would get in the trade paperback, a real sense of a Stan Lee dialog, or sense of a monthly behind the scenes look at the creative process, so generally I say eff em. I’m talking about the publishing policies and policy makers of Marvel, not generally the creators, (as marvel has some great creators, but perhaps in service of not the greatest decision makers) but rather the lackluster way the creations are fed to you.

So even though Marvel floods the market with well over a hundred titles a month, their policies make it very easy to dismiss most of them from purchase consideration. The exceptions for this month?

$4.99 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500

Written by MATT FRACTION Art & 50/50 Covers by SALVADOR LARROCA Variant Covers by MARKO DJURDJEVIC, JOE QUESADA & JOHN ROMITA JR. GIANT-SIZED ANNIVERSARY ISSUE! Three generations of Starks face their ultimate foe, seventy-some years in the future while, in the present, Spider-Man joins Iron Man as he tries to fill in the blanks of his missing memory. What if amnesia was a weapon? What if the smartest man in the land had ten nightmares that all came true? Who is the son of Tony Stark? What’s inside of the rings? The future starts now, for the Marvel Universe’s favorite futurist. The Eisner-award-winning series makes a four-hundred-something-issue leap and raises a glass of non-alcoholic champale in salute to Ol’ Shell-head! By Matt Fraction (THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN, CASANOVA) and Salvador Larroca (UNCANNY X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR), with special guests Howard X, Y and Z! 104 PGS./Rated A …$4.99

100 pgs for $5. Not great, but I do like what Matt Fraction is doing with this book. Hopefully it isn’t full of reprints to pad out the page count, but figure the odds of that. A lukewarm recommendation.

* Marvel had a couple interesting trades, but their pricing is outrageous. For 4 and 5 issues of content they are trying to charge $20 to $30 for a collected edition, trade, or hc. Which basically boils down to them trying to charge you between $4 and $6 per issue collected. To that I say, hell no. A trade should, with rare eceptions, be no more than $2 per issue collected. So if you are only collecting 4 issues you’re only going to get $8 from me. And if it costs more than that you get nothing from me.

So Marvel trades get nothing from me this month.

*I’m interested in Matt Fraction’s THOR but not interested enough to pay $4 an issue, they can keep it.

$1.95 (save $1.04) THUNDERBOLTS #152
Written by JEFF PARKER Penciled by KEV WALKER Cover by GREG LAND The T-Bolts leap into HULK’s “Scorched Earth”! At the request of Steve Rogers, Luke Cage must take his hardened team to deal with a doomsday scenario unleashed in the pages of HULK! And now that the squad is a man short, Cage finally uses his power to recruit another prisoner to duty–and his pick will shock you! Will the Thunderbolts accept this new member as a part of their force? Or will this heavy duty wild card destroy the balance of power? Find out in the series that Newsarama.com’s Best Shots calls “The Avengers title that not enough people are raving about…it’s one of the best of the bunch.” 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99 (preview artwork is available)

The reason I’m picking up this title is it has potential, it has Luke Cage:Power Man (They need to go back to calling him that), Jeff Parker is a good writer, storyline sounds like a good jumping on point, and the price is $2.99. So to keep me picking it up monthly they’ll need to add letterpages or backmatter, or I’ll be hopping off of it relatively soon.

$2.99 BLACK PANTHER MAN WITHOUT FEAR #514

Written by DAVID LISS Penciled by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA Cover by SIMONE BIANCHI Luke Cage guest stars as T’Challa’s new adventure in NYC continues! The former King of Wakanda has sworn to protect the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and while battling the mob is one thing, how does he stop a killer targeting innocent people? It’s a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, as T’Challa hunts ruthless new crime lord Vlad the Impaler, while Vlad concocts a desperate and bloody scheme to entrap the mysterious new vigilante that’s ruining his plans. T’Challa learns what it really means to be a man without fear, courtesy of award-winning thriller novelist David Liss and the pulp-tastic art of Francesco Francavilla! 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

I think without argument Christopher Priest’s take on the Black Panther was the essential take, and Marvel’s use of this character since, has been in the shadow of that great run. And good writers not withstanding, Hudlin and Mayberry, I think it suffers from idiotic editorial decisions. Petty decisions intent, for whatever reason, on dismantling a great character. A female Black Panther? Really? That was someone’s stab at a good idea? Just indicative of the sabotaging type editorial decisions that have plagued this character.

The post-Priest series suffering from gimmics rather than gusto.

However with T’Challa back in the suit, if only in the DAREDEVIL title, I’m hoping this will be a good jumping on point. I’d love to see an entertaining, respectful run with this character. I’m unfamiliar with David Liss, but he has sense enough to toss Luke Cage:Power Man in here, and that means I’m willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, and willing to support, until they prove otherwise.

From Marvels ICON Line

$3.99 CASANOVA GULA #1 (OF 4)

Written by MATT FRACTION Art & Cover by FABIO MOON CASANOVA is back. Or is he? Actually Casanova is gone. Gone from space, gone from time. The burning question WHEN IS CASANOVA QUINN hangs over the entire world as E.M.P.I.R.E. and W.A.S.T.E. alike race toward the horrible, inevitable, answer…The second staggering volume of CASANOVA starts here by the Eisner-laden team of Matt Fraction (THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN, THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN) and Fabio Moon (DAYTRIPPER, SUGARSHOCK) taking over art duties. Never before collected! Never before reprinted! Never before understood! In gorgeous full 4-D psychocolor! Worth a million in prizes! Change your shorts, change your life, change into a nine-year-old Hindu boy! Guaranteed!* *not actually guaranteed 40 PGS./Mature Content …$3.99


No ads breaking up the story, and loads of backmatter, and additional pages. So it’s me getting more bang for my buck, plus it’s Matt Fraction’s CASANOVA.

$14.99 CASANOVA TP LUXURIA VOL 1

Written by MATT FRACTION Penciled by FABIO MOON & GABRIEL BA Cover by GABRIEL BA Meet Casanova Quinn: prodigal son of a law-and-order family hell-bent on keeping the world safe and sound, now blackmailed into betraying his father and the international law enforcement organization he controls. LUXURIA collects the first volume of CASANOVA as its titular star transforms from devil-may-care thrill-seeker into the most dangerous man in the world. What happens when the ultimate player gets played? Find out in this genre-bending sci-spy epic. Gorgeously re-colored and re-lettered by hand, this staggering psychedelic spy-fi epic is collected for the first time as it was meant to be made. By the Eisner award-winning team of Matt Fraction (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN), Gabriel Ba (UMBRELLA ACADEMY, BPRD: 1947), and Fabio Moon (DAYTRIPPER, SUGARSHOCK). With all-new, all-different, never-before-seen bonus material! Collecting CASANOVA: LUXURIA #1-4112 PGS./Mature …$24.99 152 PGS./Mature …$14.99

And speaking of CASANOVA we also have the CASANOVA trade. At $15 and being a collection of bigger ICON issues, the price point is a doable exception.

$3.50 INCOGNITO BAD INFLUENCES #4

BY ED BRUBAKER AND SEAN PHILIPS WITH COLORS BY VAL STAPLES Zack Overkill has plunged into the super-criminal underworld on a deadly mission that’s made him question everything. Now he’s come face-to-face with his target, and things just got a hell of a lot worse. And so with every issue, our Professor of Pulp Culture, Jess Nevines is back with another great essay on forgotten pulp history, available only in the single issues of INCOGNITO. INCOGNITO, BAD INFLUENCES #4 -32 PGS/Mature Content/Np Ads … $3.50

It’s always good to see the CRIMINAL team of Brubaker and Philips releasing another issue.

Uhh, yeah and that’s all for Marvel.


DC

All the negatives I said for Marvel, goes for DC as well. Which makes it easy to disregard most of the 100 or so books they put out every month. It’s stupid, confusing, greedy, and ultimately just off-putting to have 20 different Bat Titles. You should have just 2. BATMAN, and one 100page anthology called BATMAN FAMILY. Boom, job done. And until they do this it makes it very easy for me to buy none of their titles. Thanks. :).

The exceptions?

$2.99 POWER GIRL #20

Written by JUDD WINICK Art and cover by SAMI BASRI Racing headlong into the adventure and turmoil of GENERATION LOST, Power Girl is hot on the trail of Max Lord – seeking answers and looking for payback. But a trip to Project Cadmus leaves her with a bit more than she can handle, and monstrously outnumbered. On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

The one big difference between Marvel and DC is in terms of art. For the most part Marvel has frigging kick ass artists and cover design, and no doubt this is due to two of the companies driving forces, Quesada and Bendis, being great artists in their own right. DC to be kind, with a few exceptions (such as the great and innovative art of Perez or Quietly), underwhelms. DC’s covers and interiors are typically a bland, uninteresting house style; and in a medium that lives and dies on art, that’s not a good thing.

And when they do get a decent artist, like Simone Bianchi, seemingly the suits are too inane or cheap to keep them, and Marvel ends up offering the artist a better deal.

Which brings us to Sam Basri.

I touched on this in the last UNDER THE RADAR, Sam Basri is one of the few absolutely amazing artists that DC has working for them. His sense of cover design on the POWER GIRL series has been blowing me away. They really are works of art by themselves, and is one of the main reasons I’m picking up this series in individual issues rather than waiting for the trade. He really is one of DCs best artists, and the company really needs to realize this and pay him accordingly, or they’ll find him working for their competition in no time. :) .

$2.99 SPIRIT #10

Written by DAVID HINE Art by MORITAT Cover by LADRONN Roscoe Kalashnikov was sure he could get away with murder – and in a town as corrupt as Central City, maybe he could. But if that’s so, why do his victim’s words still haunt him? She said something about “the spirit of justice” and now, around every corner, Roscoe is seeing a flash of trench coat and the briefest glimpse of a masked man… On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

David Hine on a SPIRIT comic? I’m intrigued. David Hine is a really good writer.

$2.99 THUNDER AGENTS #3

Written by NICK SPENCER Art by CAFU & BIT and HOWARD CHAYKIN Cover by CHRIS SPROUSE The new hit series by Nick Spencer (ACTION COMICS, Morning Glories) and CAFU continues! Think the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are a messed-up team? Wait until you learn the secrets of the evil organization known as Spider! This issue promises twists, turns and a sequence illustrated by the legendary Howard Chaykin! On sale JANUARY 12 * 32 pg, FC $2.99 US

I’m hearing good things about this Nick Spenser, so this issue may be worth a look.

$2.99 LOONEY TUNES #194

Written by BILL MATHENY Art by DAVID ALVAREZ Cover by SCOTT GROSS Beaky Buzzard is hungry. He thinks he’s found a nice meal in Daffy Duck, but the wacky bird has another suggestion: Bugs Bunny. So just who will be feeding the hungry buzzard family? A hint: It won’t be the ever-cool Bugs! Poor Beaky doesn’t stand a chance… On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

$2.99 TINY TITANS #36

Written by ART BALTAZAR & FRANCO Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR Titans to the center of the Earth! Terra uses her powers to take the “hot” Titans on the journey of a lifetime. And if Terra is involved, you know Beast Boy isn’t far behind! Don’t forget the sunscreen and the bottled water, and watch out for the Sea Trap of Doom! On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I’ve started looking for books that I can give to younger readers. The above seem to fit the bill.

$2.99 ACTION COMICS #897

Written by PAUL CORNELL Art by PETE WOODS Cover by DAVID FINCH & BATT The last place Lex Luthor expected his quest for the Black Lantern energy to take him was Arkham Asylum – specifically to the cell of The Joker! What clues about Lex’s quest could The Joker have to offer, and why on Earth would Lex trust him? Get ready for a one-of-a-kind confrontation between comics’ two greatest villains, as brought to you by the twisted minds of Paul Cornell and Pete Woods! On sale JANUARY 26 * 32 pg, FC $2.99 US

$2.99 STEEL #1

Written by STEVE LYONS Art by SEAN CHEN Cover by ALEX GARNER John Henry Irons is a normal human being who managed to overcome all odds and become a hero who Superman considers a peer and colleague. What kind of determination drives a man to reach such heights? Find out here as a battered and bruised Steel defiantly stands as the only thing between Metallo and the destruction of Metropolis! Doctor Who novelist Steve Lyons and artist Sean Chen (ACTION COMICS, SALVATION RUN) deliver a story that shows why Steel is a true DC Universe icon! ONE-SHOT * On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Great solicitation. Plus I really like the character of Steel.

*I’ve heard good things about Lemire’s SUPERBOY, but I’ve seen the art, and it just doesn’t work for me. May try it later in trade.

$2.99 SUPERGIRL #60

Written by NICK SPENCER Art by BERNARD CHANG Cover by AMY REEDER & RICHARD FRIEND SUPERGIRL welcomes aboard writer Nick Spencer (JIMMY OLSEN, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS, Morning Glories) and artist Bernard Chang (WONDER WOMAN, SUPERMAN) for a Girl of Steel story unlike any other! Someone is trying to kill the young heroes of the DC Universe! Who is this villain, and how can Supergirl stop him? Maybe her friends can help – namely, Batgirl, Blue Beetle, Miss Martian, Static and…Robin?! Buckle up, folks, because this one puts the pedal to the metal on page one and doesn’t let up for a second! On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Two things are getting me to give this a try, Nick Spenser and Static.

$2.99 HOUSE OF MYSTERY #33

Written by MATTHEW STURGES Art by WERTHER DELL’EDERA and DAVID LLOYD Cover by ESAO ANDREWS Since the Pair of the Conception first chased Fig Keele into the House of Mystery, Fig has never known who they were or what they wanted from her. Now, Fig solves a mystery that’s been lingering since the very beginning. Featuring a tale illustrated by David Lloyd (V FOR VENDETTA)! On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US MATURE READERS

Probably not the best place to jump in, but I’m intrigued, and have been meaning to pick this up.

Wow, I’m actually quite surprised how many DC comics I recommend this month. I guess their price drop has helped their titles to become more attractive, or at least most justifiable of the expense. Well that’s all for this installment. Catch me tomorrow for part 2 of this, and the remaining titles I recommend. Don’t miss it, as that’s where the good stuff is.

Classic Comics from 1995: Mark Millar’s SWAMP THING issues 153-161

Here’s a quick review of Mark Millar Swamp Thing issues from 15 years ago.

A few standout reads when he sticks to self contained stories.

153- The 2nd Part of the River Run storyline, is like all the parts easily enjoyed without reading the others. SWAMP THING is lost between worlds, stumbling from Earth to Earth in an attempt to save the soul of a young writer. In 153 we are introduced to a world where Germany won World War II, and Marilyn Monroe is the wife of the new Fuhrer. It’s an interesting stand alone story, nothing that will amaze, but a solid read, and Chris Weston does a solid job on art. The letters page BAYOU RHYTHMS contains mostly praise for issues 149-150. B-.

154- Sees the return of the art team of Phillip Hester and Kim Demulder, bringing their A game in what amounts to a really fantastic issue of Millar’s run, “THE BAD SEED”. It’s a really quite creepy and disturbed issue. Strong recommendation. A great issue. B+.

155-It took me a couple attempts to actually finish this issue, I’m not quite sure why, but once done I have to say it was quite a great issue. An earth with a familiar Solomon Grundy, and a hero to face him, and the secrets that lie in Slaughter Swamp. Really quite well done, with great art by the team of Hester and Demulder. B+.

156- Sees the paper quality go up dramatically over the newsprint seen in the previous issues and this really makes the art/colors pop off the page. Add to this the art is by Phil Jimenez, definitely channeling the great work of Totleben and Bissette from the glory days of the series, and it looks gorgeous. The best work I’ve seen from him. I love to see an artist play with the layout, panel compositions, textures, it just makes the story come alive. And Kim Demulder does a great job inking, add to that Millar is telling a fantastic story of a world where Alec Holland has not yet become a… Swamp Thing. Great issue! B+/A-.

157- “The ugliest person in every relationship has to be the breadwinner.” That line alone makes me love this issue. :)While it doesn’t stand on its own as a self contained story like the previous issues what is there is page turning good. Have you ever received a chain letter? What did you do with it? This is the story of a comic book writer who may have done the wrong thing with it. B+. Nice thoughtful letters on issue #153 topic of fascism run rampant.

158- This is the wrapup to the RIVER RUN storyline that has been running, and its pretty uninspired. The story is really underwhelming, and undeserving of the issues prior. And Phillip Hester’s art here is very uninspired. He is given a splash page to make the Parliment look awe-inspiring, and they look like nothing much at all. The Fantastic is obviously not Phil Hester’s strength. All in all a very poor issue. D-/F.

159-Mark Millar follows up one of his worst issues on the title with one of his best. A great stand alone story (it’s obvious that’s where Millar’s strength is) about a boy and his lost dog, and a most exclusive men’s club. The art is by Jill Thompson who is very welcome after the abomination of the last issue. Really entertaining issue. B+/A-.

160-161- Could not get into these two issues at all. Lot of exposition for expositions sake.

Check status or purchase your issues of Mark Millar’s SWAMP THING here

That’s all for this installment.

Alan Moore UNEARTHING CD, LP, Spoken Word Review Pt 2 of 2

UNEARTHING The Review!

Now getting past the packaging and into the audio itself, it consists of 2 cds that comprise the audio book/audio odyssey proper and one CD filled with instrumental tracks (pretty catchy, a trance, hypno vibe, definitely of the school of sound created by the Dynamite Brothers. It works better as stand-alone ep, than as an accompaniment to Moore’s lyrics. More on this in a bit).

Ostensibly a biography on Steve Moore, supposedly a friend of Alan Moore for 40 years who taught him to write, am I the only one who has figured out Steven Moore is just a pseudonym for Alan Moore? What Stephen King would refer to as his Dark Half, his Richard Bachman, and UNEARTHING is him putting to rest, finally, this old friend of the id.

What’s that you say? “Steve Moore is a real person, has a page on the Internet and everything”. Well then he has to be real, hasn’t he?

UNEARTHING is Moore at what Poitier would call “The Summing up place” in his life, and it’s him putting his house in order. Using a pseudo biography to speak on larger themes of loneliness, loss, creation, mortality and magic. It takes a few listens to make out his journey, and when Moore deals most clearly with battles of the id the work is compelling.

However, unlike his collaboration with Bauhaus front man David J, here the music works against Moore’s monologue rather than with it. Quiet when it should be loud, and loud when it should be quiet.

So we’re left primarily with Moore’s voice to carry us through. And while Moore has an astounding voice, the subject matter is not as engaging.

It’s an interesting listen but ultimately one that tends to wear out its welcome relatively quickly.

So while I love the audacity of the packing, the actual content fails to live up to it. For those interested in seeing Moore’s
“A+” game when it comes to spoken word, try the brilliant MOON AND SERPENT, followed relatively closely by the almost as brilliant SNAKES AND LADDERS. I would also recommend BIRTH CAUL, HIGHBURY WORKING, and ANGEL PASSAGE, all before I would recommend UNEARTHING.

But for Alan Moore Completionists like myself, it will look pretty on your shelf. B+ for the packaging, B- for the content, earns it an average grade of B.

Alan Moore UNEARTHING CD, LP, Spoken Word Review Pt 1 of 2


UNEARTHING is Alan Moore’s 6th Spoken Word Album (not counting those he just lends his voice to, but only those that are him in mass), Aural Odyssey, and is easily his most lavishly packaged.

Arriving on one’s doorstep in a box big enough to bludgeon the unsuspecting, UNEARTHING is an elaborate slipcase that includes a more elaborate jacket, beautifully adorned with photographs by Mitch Jenkins of Alan Moore and company. The jacket includes a poster, a transcript of the lyrics, a photograph, 3 lps, and 3 cds.

Feel free to gasp, I did upon receiving it.

It is just an amazing tome, and hearkens back to old world concepts of form as part and parcel of function, and the packaging as part of the experience. An idea that is being lost, or buried, in today’s download, digitization, miniaturization age. But a download can’t grasp the child-like joy of receiving a package like this and the experience of leafing through its lavish contents. Nothing like having that CD or LP staring up at you, and that anticipation of voices from the ether, that you are about to discover.

Moore’s UNEARTHING in packaging alone dazzles and ingratiates and seduces and tells a story, and is art in and of itself. Like LPs of old,

And I am of that not yet extinct clan, who appreciates the journey, who appreciates a thing as a work of art onto itself, and as the first, inaudible part, of the process of embracing the world the artist is crafting.

To be continued

Zack Snyder and the WATCHMEN, and who wasn’t watching! A HT movie review!

watchmen350

I just came from seeing the WATCHMEN, a much anticipated movie. My first film on the big screen since being back on the East Coast.

My first theater experience, made me miss the Southern Californian movie theaters. LA as you can imagine is a place that takes their theaters seriously. From enforcing restrictions on R rated showings, to having state of the art sound and picture, to policing the screenings.

The policing part made moot, by the fact that the Socal movie crowd, like I said is serious about their films. This east coast screening however, slightly marred by the fact that some idiot with a laser pointer made me want to kill somebody. An irritation easily resolved in the short term by having an usher in the theater to monitor just such idiocies, and in the long term by more selective breeding.

This country has too many of the wrong people breeding. This moron, someone told me later was in there with three kids (seemingly his), and all four of them looking like Howdy Doody.

I hate morons. Always have, always will. I hate people who cross the line.

That minor idiocy bringing us back to the topic at hand, the WATCHMEN. The 12 chapter graphic novel at its heart is a cross-generational murder mystery, about a time and a breed of people, that hold an ever more broken line.

The graphic novel is an acknowledged masterpiece, that I read when it first came out in 1986, and reread recently… just a scant month before the opening of the film.
watchmen
The graphic novel is deserving of its praise, as written and drawn and colored by three brits, it uses the trappings of the hero genre to examine and dissect the paranoia of a cold war America, and the violent, decadent, cannibalistic American id. An oft covered topic now, back in 1985-1986, the work was revelatory. In many ways it still is.

Dense and layered and rich, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and John Higgins’ WATCHMEN was the wakeup call to a medium, that had been a long time sleeping. There is a sophistication to what these gentleman had done in the WATCHMEN that has since been much copied, but seldom equaled.

For over 2 decades it kicked around Hollywood, unfilmable most said. But that was before. Before comic properties routinely started generating over 100million dollars. Before CGI grew up. Before Zack Snyder’s 300, made much money on little investment.

So the unfilmable movie has been filmed, and director Zack Snyder is to be applauded for his vision, his style, his direction, his faithfulness to the source. There are many scenes that made me smile, because they capture exact and momentous moments, capture them well. Many scenes improve on the source, make moments cinematic and visceral, definitely Snyder’s strength in 300.

His action scenes are phenomenal. Not since Peckinpah and Woo has anyone used slow motion as effectively.

In pieces, in parts, the movie impresses; but as a whole it unfortunately fails. And that can be summed up in one word: Pacing.

the-watchmen_l

Snyder tries to be faithful to the book, but the book is too dense and too rich to be shoehorned into 2 or even 3 hours. Without having read the graphic novel, large parts of the movie are going to be confusing and incomprehensible to the audience. Even having read the novel, I clearly saw that much of it was muddled at best. I felt the whole conceit and destruction it was building up to and that the ‘heroes’ were racing to stop, got lost. The characters moving from scene to scene, but the why of their movements either lost on the cutting room floor or never filmed. I knew the ending of the book, but based on just watching the film, you wouldn’t.

Snyder’s faithfulness to the source material, costing him in terms of making it accessible and exciting as a film. Bottom line, there was too much happening, in too little a period of time, to too many characters.

And it cost a visually inventive movie its heart. Its audience.

The movie would have been better served as a tv show, or a movie trilogy.

Both options giving the audience time to know the characters and care for them, an empathy absent from this film.

Looking at the trilogy aspect, the first movie should have ended with the death of the Comedian, not been just the beginning of a movie. That would have covered the Minutemen years. The 2nd movie would have been Rorschach’s investigation and the Watchmen years, and the third movie would have been the last hour and a half of the movie we saw in the theaters minus the muddled shoehorned in back-story.

But hindsight is 20/20. I can see clearly what works, because of Zack Snyder’s effort.

He had much right. The casting I thought was spot on, the performances, the acting, the visuals, the music, however the script and the pacing did not play to the strengths of cinema, this edit of the movie largely was nonsensical and cost a movie that could have been… great, its greatness.

So all in all, a failed film. That I would not recommend to anyone who has not read the book, and even those who have… may find it a viewing better reserved for when the extended, and hopefully re-edited DVD comes out.

But I still count Zack Snyder, with only 3 movies under his belt (DAWN OF THE DEAD, 300, WATCHMEN), as one of the most exciting filmmakers working, because even his misses, are visually more interesting than most people’s successes.

A filmmaker to watch.