Who watches the Watchmen? or should you…?

March 9, 2009 — 24 Comments

{spoiler alert}

Last night, after waiting for 17 years, I went to see “Watchmen”.

It was 2 hours and 45 min.
I had my pretzel and coke in hand. I was ready to be super happy or super disappointed.

I of course read the book. and while the movie stands alone I do believe that having read the book it changed my feelings about the film.

Let me start with the opening of the film. It was perfect. I mean it was like panel for panel with the graphic novel. I was completely floored by how much in this film matched up to the book. The details were amazing. Down to the last drop..and I mean that literally. The people they cast look so much like the book it was wild.

This was a fanboys dream and it lived up to in in every way, but….

The director decided to take liberties with violence that really bothered me. As an example there is a scene in the book where Rorschach finds a child killer chains him in his house and then burns it down. In the film however we got to see a change for the sake of shock value where the man is chained and then butchered in the head with a meat clever. It was very disturbing to watch.

There was more of that kind of stuff. Some of it was in the book and some not. I don’t shy away from violence in films, but there is something to be said for leaving it to the imagination. I this film we never have to use our imagination. This was very disappointing and not necessary for the film at all. In my opinion it really soured it actually. This to me was the worst part of the film. I hate violence just for the sake of it and there were some bloody scenes that were not in the book that they added in for no reason other than to get an R rating.

Then there is Doctor Manhattan who walks around as a big blue alien naked guy. His penis is fully exposed. This wasn’t too much of an issue for me because the character to me is like watching a documentary on a tribe in brazil or something. It wasn’t meant to be crude or for shock. While this wasn’t an issue for me it will be for others and is not appropriate for kids.

There is a “almost” rape scene which was straight out of the book. The director took it a little too far with the violence again and added more then there should have been. No nudity in it.

There were some prostitutes, but I don’t think they showed anything…

As far as explicit sex there was a scene on a couch which really didn’t show anything, a dream sequence which was just like the book and was kinda artsy so it wasn’t too much of an issue to me. There is an odd scene with the blue guy and silk spectre where there are 3 of him pleasuring her. Again we don’t see anything.

Then there was “the” sex scene. In this scene two major characters have sex on a ship. This scene is in the book. However there is something about 1980’s simple line art that is a little different than real people. While it was a necessary part of the film and the book I think they chose to show way too much. It is not an artsy fartsy film. Much of that scene should have been left to our imagination. Showing kissing and a shirtless back is enough, but they showed Silk’s breasts and and showed climax. This bothered me less than the violence because at least it was in the book, but it was still unnecessary and awkward.

The cinematography in this film is breathtaking. The fighting scenes are outrageous. The acting and casting is perfect. The story is brilliant. The violence is way over the top. The sex shows too much.

I had a hard time reviewing this film because I have been a fan of this for so long.

After thinking about it here is my thought.

If you have read the book and you are a fan of it then you will want to see this film. You will also know when you should be covering your eyes because anything that is violent in the book is taken to an extreme in the film. If you are able to get away with not watching in theater then rent it and make the ffwd button your friend.

If you have not read the book I don’t think you will be lost by watching the film, but because of no emotional attachment you might as well skip it and wait for star trek in May.

If you are under 17 and want to see this…send me your phone number so I can tell your parents to lock you in your room.

This is not a kids film and it contains too much stuff for shock value, but at the same time is a brilliant film. That’s why it is so hard for me to review. While I personally loved 85% of the film. The 15% of it that bothered me makes it so I can’t recommend this film to anybody who has not been an avid fan of the book since it came out.

For a more detailed review

[Rating: 3.5/5]

Joel Klampert

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24 responses to Who watches the Watchmen? or should you…?

  1. Ok, Joel, so you know I want to go here .. and I’m doing this in hopes to stir up debate on your blog.

    Regardless of the stuff you mention, w/ the level of sex, violence, rape, etc .. why would any Christian really want to expose themselves to this for “sheer entertainment”?

    At what price? Did you feel the Holy Spirit grieving? Or, DID the Holy Spirit grieve? If so, do you have peace about watching it anyway?

    I don’t mean to sound like a Pharisee, I’m talking brotha-to-brotha, and as I said, I’m the chief of sinners.

    I’ve been asking myself HARD QUESTIONS wondering why we don’t have any power? We have Christ, but deny His power. Could our lust for worldly entertainment lessen our intimacy with Christ? Could our constant compromise in what we allow into our souls (via movies, TV, etc) that we all know is contrary to God’s Word – could it hinder our ability to move in His Power in a stronger way?

    I doubt many people would debate that. What I believe, though, is that although we know that’s probably true … WE DON’T REALLY CARE.

    AND THIS IS WHAT SCARES ME.

    OK – the lid is off, please don’t throw stones at me – this isn’t addressed at YOU, personally, this is addressed to myself, and to CHRISTIANS worldwide.

    Fred

    Fred McKinnons last blog post..Sunday Setlists #33 – Worldwide Worship Recaps

  2. As a young youth leader, I find more and more kids asking me about new movies. I almost feel as if I should watch every movie I can so I can give an honest answer to them about whether or not they should watch a film and why.

    That being said, I am trying to curb what I watch, for my own sake.

    Shawn Ks last blog post..Verizon’s Network Hits The Slopes

  3. Fred – This is clearly a personal rebuke to Joel for his fairly positive yet guarded review – better left between you two privately? This is surely not brother-to-brother but brother-to-world. I, for one, am happy for the info Joel provides.
    Julie

  4. Fred, not sure you’ll get any disagreement here, but to be fair, I saw the film with no knowledge of it’s content. I would counsel against seeing this film, now knowing what the content is, just as Joel is.

    On the other side of this argument though, is that what you have done is appropriate. Encourage, admonish your brothers and sisters. But that is where this discussion would end, because we don’t then go on to condemn someone who may choose to go against our thoughts. Not saying that you would do this, just saying that our place is to admonish, not judge. For instance, violence doesn’t bother me. I grew up with a Mom who was a nurse and she studied picture after picture of accidents to know how to better care for people. I’ve seen it all. So a film like this doesn’t shock me. I see something like a broken leg completely different than someone else. But, the sex does bother me. By way of “sexual rating” in a film, this is at the top of the list for intensity, of films I have ever seen. If I had known it was in there, I would never have gone to see this film. I was very uncomfortable.

    Is it ok for sex and violence to fill our minds? No, but we definitely accept those things into our lives on different levels and through different perspectives. What is most important is that God continues to be our source for standard of living and that standard never changes.

    brent(inWorship)s last blog post..One Of My Favorite

  5. I’ve got to say, I don’t feel hugely passionate about this one, but my wife, Felicity, this is one of her favorite subjects. She feels very strongly that Phil 4:8 should be our filter for everything we watch and listen to.

    I feel that each person has different limits and different thresholds for levels of sex, violence and language in tv and movies. My wife cannot watch “24” because of the torture and the blasphemy, (which somehow doesn’t make me wince so much) but we’ll happily watch British comedies even with all the nudity. No problems, and actually, the lack of violence is a relief 🙂

    I’m with you though Fred on the idea that we don’t think enough about how our behaviour makes God feel, and how our actions pain him and grieve him. It’s too sobering a thought, and us 21st Century Western Christians will do ANYTHING to avoid feeling uncomfortable. And that is a serious problem.

    Mark Jaffreys last blog post..Single Dad Week

  6. Julie,
    I have to disagree, what you don’t realize is that Joel and have been IM’ing back and forth about this, both before, after, and during this. We spent a week together, we’re brothers. I made two things clear:
    1 – this isn’t targeted at Joel personally, (though sure, he’s included), but is just an example for us all ..

    2 – I’m the chief of Sinners. I told Joel “all this, and I’ll watch Jack Bauer slaughter people tonight on 24”.

    BRENT:
    Thanks – I think violence (like a car accident) is different than watching someone saw off an arm or bash in a head.

    Also – admonish, yes. Judge?? Yes – I think that we, as Christians, are called to judge one another, right? Not judge the world, but judge one another – at least, that’s always what I was taught and have learned?

    (wiping my head from that last stone)

    Fred McKinnons last blog post..Sunday Setlists #33 – Worldwide Worship Recaps

  7. Fred, I think the concern comes over what is to be judged. I think that we as Christians are asked to judge and hold accountable to unrepentant sin, false teaching, Disputes in the church. But I don’t believe it gives us explicit instruction on judging whether or not someone went to a movie or had a drink. I believe it gives us the right to question those things, but not to judge. I think Mark is right in saying that we don’t think or caution ourselves enough on acting on behaviors. We need to be more sensitive to allowing things into our lives that could mess with them

    brent(inWorship)s last blog post..One Of My Favorite

  8. I can look at both sides of this. And I think some are coming down pretty hard on ol’ Fred.

    Did Joel go to see this a a fan of the Watchmen who happened to write a review? Or as a reviewer who happened to like the Watchmen? In other words, would he have gone anyway, if he wasn’t planning to blog it?

    I think that we do our brothers and sisters a disservice, and don’t act in love, when we fail to point out the spiritual aspects to the things we do in everyday life. Satan is the true King of All Media – not Howard Stern. Too often Christians hide behind the guise of “free will” and “not judging.” Fred’s interpretation is correct – we ARE to judge one another, instruct one another, reproof one another when needed. These films, video games, music – they are tearing us apart on a very real, very spiritual level.

    Now, that said – I’ve not seen the film. I’m talking about the propensity for Christians to see films they know contain gratuitous violence, sex, or spiritual content. Having taught a short seminar on media, I’ve researched this a lot – I could write volumes.

    Joel, thank you for your review. I found it good, informative and concise. And will use it as ammo to keep my youth and kids OUT of the theatre. And yes, I AM waiting for Star Trek!

    Mike Mahoneys last blog post..Sunday Setlist – March 8

  9. Brent,
    I totally agree w/ your interpretation of what and how we should judge.

    Mike, thanks for the words … I agree.

    Mark – thanks for chiming in as well from a good ole mindset from Egyptian culture even (or should I say British-Egyptian?).

    And seriously, I love Joel like a brother, he knows that, he IS my brother in Christ (all of you guys are) …

    My comment was intentionally meant to stir up conversation.

    All I’m really saying is “is the Holy Spirit grieved”, and if so, what should our response be?

    And let me tell you (again, and again), I’m preaching to myself. I’m judging myself before anyone else.

    For one, it’s about a movie – Mark, so funny – my wife will say the same things about 24, but I’ll tease her about watching “The Gilmore Girls” and all the out-of-marriage sexual escapades of the mom, rory, her classmates, etc.

    Each of us has standards that are defined by many things … though ultimately, the Word is our standard – but it’s interpreted so differently.

    When it’s all said and done, we have to ask ourselves, “did I sense the Holy Spirit’s grief”. If no … that means you’re OK, or maybe worse – we’re “seared” to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

    Just my $.02 … again.

  10. It’s funny that this came up. In the past week have heard a couple of different pastors preaching about “liberty vs. license”. The church in general seems to go to one extreme or the other.

    Too often, it’s either “no drinking, no dancing, no secular music (whatever that is), etc”…or it’s “all things are permissible”, and anything goes. Somewhere there’s got to be balance and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit is at the heart of that.

    It has caused me to re-think a lot of things in my own life. I had a conversation with my son recently that went something like this:

    Me: “Christian, I sorry but I’m going to have to take back the Halo game I let you get with your Christmas money.”

    Christian: “WHY!?!?!?”

    Me: “The language and violence is just too much for a 10-year-old.”

    Christian: “So how old will I have to be before I can play it again?”

    Me: “Uhhhhhhh…..”

    Is Halo ok for a 13-year-old? What about 18, 21, 40……? I don’t know, and my point here is not about Halo (that’s my own personal conviction), or even video games in general. I’m talking about finding the balance in life in general between I Corinthians 6:12 and Philippians 4:8.

    How do you do that?

    Kit Palmers last blog post..Saturday/Sunday Setlist #33

  11. Hmmm. Thanks for the review, Joel — needed to hear that, because I was going to see it; won’t do it now. I don’t consider myself to be overly uptight, but it sounds like something I don’t need.

    All I could think about while reading the review and the comments was what Jesus said — something that’s NOT an unattainable ideal: “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    Wonder if I could watch this flick without that issue…? Probably not.

  12. Joel, thanks for the review. I was planning on watching this, but maybe I’ll just get the graphic novel. Or maybe I’ll just wait for Star Trek (the new trailer looks awesome!)

    My personal litmus test is “do I want my mind to be filled with this?” I love AC/DC’s sound, but decided I don’t want their lyrics going through my head all day.

    I agree with Mark – it all goes back to Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

    Personally, I’m feeling rather convicted about all of this… I am the chief of sinners too.

  13. Fred: Your comment “was intentionally meant to stir up conversation.” That is interesting, so, what did you really want to say? Were you just playing Devil’s advocate and actually agree?

    As for the movie, I don’t really care. I don’t know anything about it previous to the trailers. I’ve talked to a handful of people who have seen it and they all said it was a mistake to see for the same reasons Joel listed. Based on that, until it is made for TV, I don’t think I’ll see it.

    Joel: I struggle with “recommending it for avid fans of the book.” To me it SEEMS, I stress SEEMS, like you are saying that it is OK for people to see things that God might not other wise want them to see if they are passionate enough about the story they are presented in. To me that just seems like a dangerous rule.

    Maybe I missed something though.

    I tend to evaluate things on the Holy Spirit factor as Fred described. Violence doesn’t seem to have an effect on my like sexuality. Jack Bauer doesn’t make me stumble or think bad thoughts about people. A movie with more than a split second of nudity or sexual activity can make me stumble. We have to be judges of that for ourselves.

    Just thinking out loud at this point so I’ll stop.

  14. On a lighter note…

    Joel, will you be getting this in preperation for the new Star Trek movie?

    http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/23431

  15. Just saw it man! My review coming tonight/tomorrow. Seeing how we were separated at birth not too much different thoughts other than I want to discuss subject matter. I found the ideas stirred up in the movie are super duper discussion points…for adults! This is DEFINITELY not a child/youth movie!

    Conner Byrds last blog post..Watchmen Controversy

  16. First off…Thanks Fred for opening up a can of worms, but even better starting a discussion on this here discussionless blog 🙂

    I want to initially point out that Fred and I are “real” internet brothers. We have prayed for each other via web and then when we met in person at Re:create we were in person brothers. This is a real connection and I guess that didn’t come across in his initial comment. So don’t worry…he just wanted to stir the pot.

    Normally I would reply to each and every comment, but they are all in the same vein so here is my thoughts.

    First off I am not saying that if you read the book that you should go see it or that it some how justifies it. What I said was you WILL want to see it. and thats true you WILL. Just like I did. I knew there would be violence and sex, but what I didn’t know is the director was going to amp it up for shock value.
    That was disappointing and makes it so I can’t recommend this awesome movie to anybody.

    I think this whole point of grieving the spirit is a tough one. Does violence grieve the spirit…Does etc etc. I think we should have whatever is good and true in our minds..Yes I do.

    I will however throw out the fact that if the bible was ever done as a movie “for real” by our own standards none of us would recommend it or go see it. I always found that thought odd.

    I think that we do have levels that we as people are able to handle based on who we are and that is different for everybody and between him and God. With that said I am not saying one guy can watch porn and its ok and another its not. Some things are just not good and thats why I cant recommend this film. To me it goes out of bounds there.

    But with levels for me its simple. Satan tempts us with things that…tempt us.

    If I watch a beer commercial. I am not tempted to get drunk nor am I sinning in my heart. I am thinking cant wait till the show is back on. But if an alcoholic is watching this same one he is thinking about getting plastered and most likely sinning in his heart.

    In the movie the violence goes far beyond what it should to the point where your heart is wrenched…that was the spirit saying…UGH! There was no need for that.

    The sex is explicit and while it was at least in the book it is still a 20 foot image of a naked woman. If you are a guy this is an issue nuff said.

    Not arguing that this stuff wasn’t bad. but I will say if 4 scenes of violence/sex were taken out the movie would have been fantastic to me yet my wife could not still watch it because she gets disturbed by any violence at all.

    So I think with everything pray about it before you do it.

    I went in as a fan and walk out as a fan pissed off at a director who tried to get a rise out of people with crappy additional content.

    To me the story, acting, ideas, art of it all was so good. Its just so sad the 4 scenes made it so I can’t tell people to see it.

  17. Joel,
    Awesome, heartfelt response. It’s eye-opening, even re-reading your review with this resposne, you can hear and see the frustration much clearer. I think Travis and I were reading it the same way … “if you are fan, you will want to see this film”, as in, this is something you should do … now, it’s clear you are saying “you will WANT to, but probably shouldn’t”.

    Regardless, you are so right when you talk about different things affecting other people. Thanks for the heartfelt reply … and I’m glad to know we’re the brothers that I presumed!

    Fred McKinnons last blog post..Excessive Celebration

  18. Joel…

    Sounds like the “Edited for TV” version might be the ticket. Perhaps they should have an “Edited for the Spiritual Man” edition!

    Mike Mahoneys last blog post..Say it ain’t so… Pete

  19. Ok . . . I had NEVER heard of Watchmen. Had no idea what they were, just heard it was going to be another cool superhero movie. To quote a common friend here . . . “I am still trying to burn the image of that wagging blue penis from my memory!” I wished that I had PREpented before I saw it! I think if I had done more info gathering and education before I went to see it, then I would have decided against seeing it. I talked to Conner after I saw it and will to this day refuse to recommend this movie, and will start to do more education on a movie before I go see it. I long for the good old days . . . (insert the Andy Griffith show whistling intro here . . .)

    Jason Durhams last blog post..THIS PIPER’S SONG IS TRUE

  20. [devil’s advocate]

    If we’re to only think about pure and lovely and upright things at every moment of the day, wouldn’t we have to put down the Bible?

    The Bible is probably the most violent, sensual, book ever written. Especially, in the OT.

    [/devil’s advocate]

    Of course, personally I don’t advocate not reading the Bible. I personally, have high standards when it comes to the movies I watch (unless I’m duped which happens every now and then).

    Violence doesn’t bother me. I loved Braveheart, Gladiator, 300, etc. However, I squirm like a toddler in church, whenever nudity happens. Why? Because I’ve got a history with exposure to that sort of stuff. I’ve put myself in a lot of bad situations growing up, and if I even stick my pinky toe back in those waters it ain’t pretty. And IT’S ALL IN MY MIND!

    Bottom line: we have to guard our hearts and minds. We can justify watching this or that as much as we like, but ultimately it ain’t that complex.

    God gave each and every one of us a conscience. I guess the crux is, is the lines of communication to our conscience free and can we hear what the Spirit is saying through it clearly?

    Or is it clogged up with noise and junk like a junk food lover’s arteries?

    Good post and discussion!

    Russ Huttos last blog post..Words of Wisdom from Dad

  21. exactly and funny you should say that russ…cus I tackle bible in my most recent post.

  22. …crap…I’m going to have to reread my review post coming out tonight…
    🙂

    Conner Byrds last blog post..Do you Wiffiti? You should!

  23. so intense for a movie. haha, wow.

  24. I had nagging feeling throughout the movie that the they chose the wrong girl for the (younger) Silk Spectre; all the other character choices were perfect tho

    coffees last blog post..Culinary Solutions Café (Tempe, AZ)

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