PAN001: Watchmen Director’s Cut DVD

Jeff, Ray, and Steve aren’t the only bears that watch movies.  Guest writer Rick (aka Austinpanda) gives us his written take on the “Watchmen” Director’s Cut DVD.

While shopping at my local grocery megamart lately, I came across a few bins of discount DVDs and BluRays. Normally I react with distrust when electronics store merchandise encroaches onto the place where I purchase bacon, but thanks to its mega-visible yellow and black color scheme, I noticed a Watchmen Director’s Cut BluRay for $6.00. Watchmen is the perfect example of an almost-great movie, I think. It has parts I really love. Six bucks felt like an insult. I bought a copy.

Director Howard Hawkes said you can define a good movie as one which has at least three great scenes and no bad scenes. Watchmen got the first part right with plenty of room to spare. The second part, not so much.

Since this movie is almost three years old now, I won’t worry about spoiling things. Here’s the solution to the mystery: Veidt, the foppish, rich, super-smart guy, blew up all the world’s biggest cities and made it look like Dr. Manhattan did it, so the world would band together in opposition to Dr. Manhattan instead of killing itself with nuclear war. Can’t nuke Russia, too busy worrying if Dr. Manhattan’s going to blow up my grandparents in Cleveland next. Or Irkutsk.

Watchmen has quite a few great scenes. The flashback showing how science nerd Jon Osterman’s terrible accident transforms him into floating blue exhibitionist Dr. Manhattan is my favorite. I also love most every scene featuring Rorschach. I really like Rorschach’s character, its driving concepts and its execution. Don’t get me wrong; the guy’s got issues. I don’t aspire to be like any of these superheroes, but I wouldn’t mind having Rorschach’s sense of style.

The director’s cut of the movie is not an improvement over the original theatrical release. If you’re new to the Watchmen story, you might as well stick with the 2 hour 47 minute version instead of the 3 hour and 6 minute version. It’s just as entertaining, and life is short. But if you’re into this sort of thing (director’s cuts or Watchmen in general) the director’s cut has a few scenes you’ll want to see.

It’s not a director’s cut that simply includes a handful of new scenes; it’s been tweaked all over. Conversations are lengthened. Situations and flashbacks are lengthened. Example: the shootout in Veidt’s office between Veidt and the delivery guy (where several captains of industry get lusciously killed in delightful slow motion) is a good bit bloodier, and features an exciting new ah…finger injury closeup.

The most substantial addition is the death of Nite Owl 1. Recall the early scene with Nite Owl 1 drinking beer and discussing old times with Nite Owl 2. Later, Nite Owl 1 gets badly killed by some “knot head” thugs. Nite Owl 2 sees the news on TV in a bar and would you believe it, who’s sitting right next to him, but a knot head. We’re treated to Nite Owl 2, also known as Dan of the Chevy Chase appearance and questionable libido, beating the unholy shit out of the knot head, including closeups of broken teeth floating out of a shredded mouth on a river of blood.

Now me, I could have lived without that shit. I can enjoy movie violence. I can even enjoy excessive movie violence, because there are times when over-the-top gore can improve the scene. Think of some of the bloodier moments in Shaun of the Dead. They’re hilarious. But how did the knot head’s unfortunate dental injury make the film Watchmen any better?

On the other hand, there’s a new scene that’s quite good, with Laurie/Silk Spectre 2 getting interrogated by military meanies and escaping with a zealous application of cunning and martial arts. Her character needed an extra smidgeon of cool, and this scene brought it.

Filming Watchmen must have come up with many built-in chances to fail. First of all, there’s simply too much content in the graphic novel to fit into a film. Zack Snyder (who directed 300) was always going to have to cut something that would upset somebody, but he chose well. Secondly, the concept of a world-ending nuclear exchange between the USA and the Soviet Union was a terrifying living reality back when this story was set, and was published. Now the Soviet Union is gone, and our terrors come in different shapes. For the dangers it avoided, Watchmen is all the greater an accomplishment.

My central problem with Watchmen is this: The movie makes great demands of its audience, beating the shit out of us with gruesome violence, frequent flashbacks you have to keep in their chronological order, incredible visual density, lots and lots of story arcs, and a three-hour running length. At the end, the punchline is, “Many millions get killed, instead of EVERYONE getting killed. Hooray! Also, your favorite character gets killed.” Yep, except for The Comedian, who dies in the opening scene, all the main characters survive except Rorschach. Oh, and all the other millions and millions of world citizens.

I wonder if anyone makes a Rorschach plush doll. I kind of like the idea of Rorschach being rendered in the form of a cuddly soft toy, because if any character in literary history needs a hug more than Rorschach, I can’t say who it is. I would hug him and pet him and…try to convince him that such a stubborn refusal to compromise, while frequently noble, can sometimes lead to negative results.

Finally, ever notice at the end, when New York is being blown up, they show the prison psychiatrist who interviewed Rorschach and his briefcase pops open, spilling his ink blots. There’s a closeup of the briefcase clasp and its 3-digit combination, ‘300.’

GPMMC #30: But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

ButImACheerleaderBut I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
: Jamie Babbit
Writers: Brian Wayne Peterson, Jamie Babbit
Stars: Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall and Michelle Williams
Summary: In this hilarious satire, Megan Bloomfield (Natasha Lyonne) lives a “normal” teen life as a cheerleader dating the captain of the football team. But her parents and friends suspect Megan is gay because of “clues,” such as her distaste for kissing her boyfriend. Shipped off to True Directions — a camp designed to shove her back in the closet — Bloomfield meets tomboy Graham Eaton (Clea DuVall), who helps her recognize her sexual orientation.

I’ve always loved this movie.  It shows the absurdity of the so called “Sexual reorientation” programs.  It also deals with people’s denial of being gay and all in good fun too.  Seeing RuPaul not in drag was a little weird despite that fact that she . . . he had a spectacular performance.  It’s weird calling RuPaul a he.  Anyway, this is definitely proof that he . . . she . . can act, so stay away from Starrbooty.  The rest of the cast was fantastic and I have nothing bad to say about this movie.

5 Stars

Challenge complete.  *collapes in a heap*

GPMMC #29: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

rockyhorrorThe Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Director: Jim Sharman
Writers: Richard O’Brien, Jim Sharman
Stars: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick
Summary: This notorious horror parody — a fast-paced potpourri of camp, sci-fi and rock ‘n’ roll, among other things — tracks the exploits of naïve couple Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) after they stumble upon the lair of transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). The film — a bizarre musical co-starring Meat Loaf and Richard O’Brien — bombed in its initial release but later gained a cult following at midnight showings.

What can I say?  I can’t not love this movie.  It’s definitely not a movie for everyone but I love it.  I’m just chicken to go to one of the live shows.  Especially if they know it’s my first time going.  Horror stories, I tell you.  Anyway, this is definitely a cult film.  I’m a huge fan of Tim Curry. The songs are very memorable and how can you not want to stand up and do the Time Warp?

5 Stars

GPMMC #28: Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild! (2008)

AnothergaysequelAnother Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild! (2008)
Director: Todd Stephens
Writers: Todd Stephens
Stars: Jonah Blechman, Jake Mosser and Aaron Michael Davies
Summary: In this outrageous sequel to Another Gay Movie, best friends Andy (Jake Mosser), Nico (Jonah Blechman), Jarod (Jimmy Clabots) and Griff (Aaron Michael Davies) enjoy a crazy spring break in Fort Lauderdale when they compete in a "Gays Gone Wild" contest to see who can bed the most hunks. In order to come out on top, they’ll have to conquer giant genital crabs and evil gay frat boys. This campy comedy also features RuPaul and Perez Hilton.

Nice, 14 movies after number 14 and I review it’s sequel.  With only Jonah Blechman returning for this movie, there didn’t seem much for this to connect to the first.  Oh, Scott Thompson returned as well.  This is essentially another movie just like the first.  Sure different plot line, different cameos, slightly different outcome, but all in all, still another funny movie.  Repeat offender

4 Stars

GPMMC #27: Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998)

BillyshollywoodscreenkissBilly’s Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998)
: Tommy O’Haver
Writer: Tommy O’Haver
Stars: Brad Rowe, Sean Hayes and Richard Ganoung
Summary: Billy (Sean P. Hayes) is more passionate about his Polaroid camera than anything else, until a hunky — but straight — waiter named Gabriel (Brad Rowe) comes along. He convinces Gabriel to participate in his latest photography project, an opus that involves homoerotic re-creations of classic movie moments. But the fact that Gabriel has a girlfriend doesn’t stop Billy from trying to sway his sexual orientation.

It’s Jack!  As a character who is almost the exact opposite of Jack. It’s a very sweet movie with Billy finding a really great man then trying to work out if he’s straight or gay.  The acting in this movie was great.  I love the style of Billy telling a story and it being presented, not as a flashback but in a series of Polaroid picture.  The story was very consistent and it was refreshing to have a movie that didn’t have to go over the top for humor.   This has been listed as a comedy but I’m not really sure how comedic it really is.  I’d say it’s more of a dramatic romance with the requisite number of comedic moments.

4 Stars