At Warner Brothers’ Watchmen presentation, the most anticipated panel in Hall H this year, Zack Snyder twice showed a long montage of new footage from his adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel. In between was a long, often rambling Q&A in which Billy Crudup was the entertaining highlight, and where we learned that Matthew Goode used two voices for Ozymandias: a red-blooded American accent for his public appearances and a German-tinged voice for private conversations.
I’m about to see how well my recording of the panel Q&A turned out (and Devin is in roundtables right now) but all you really want to know about is the new footage.
I can’t even begin to capture how well Snyder has nailed the look and visual feel of the graphic novel, but here’s a shot by shot rundown of what we saw. The primary soundtrack was a symphonic piece, with no dialogue heard throughout. So we didn’t get any more idea of how Rorschach or any other character will sound.
The clip opened with Rorschach, his mask slowly cycling through a series of inkblot patterns, looking through the Comedian’s apartment. An extended version of the trailer’s shot of Dr. Manhattan disintegrating folks in Vietnam followed, then a cut to the Comedian’s pin being splashed with blood, which slowly dripped into the iconic splat pattern. We saw Rorschach finding the Comedian’s costume and weapon stash, with close-ups on a photo of Silk Spectre and old newspaper clippings about the Minutemen. More images of Rorschach’s mask followed, then a shot of Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl (out of costume) sinking down in despair while holding the Comedian’s button. Cut to a photo being taken of the Minutemen, all in costume. Close-up on Sally Jupiter vamping and the Comedian reacting to her. Then to Mars with a longer shot of the rising clockwork seen in the trailer. A few images of Jon Osterman and the creation of Dr. Manhattan followed, with a much longer look at Osterman’s human flesh dissolving into blue. Back to Nite Owl’s lair, as Laurie/Silk Spectre (out of costume) pulls the dust cover off the Owl Ship, and then a cut to Nite Owl and Silk Spectre kissing in costume as a nuke sails between them in the background, eventually bursting into a backdrop of a massive mushroom cloud. Quick shots of the President of the U.S, the Owl Ship bursting out of ice, Dr. Manhattan’s blue ass, Rorschach leaping out a window, the Comedian’s Saigon bar fight, Ozymandias, the redhead young Rorschach, Nite Owl punching, a GIANT Dr. Manhattan hand wreaking havoc, dead Dollar Bill, and finally an extended shot of the Comedian breaking through his window and falling to the street as his smiley face button, splashed with blood, flips slowly toward the camera.
There’s a certain subtle grain to most of the footage, but it doesn’t obscure detail. You can see the weave on Rorschach’s mask, and the slowly shifting inkblots look great. Nite Owl’s costume continues to impress in motion, and this presentation lent a frightening power to Dr. Manhattan’s movements. There’s still a lot we don’t know, since we have no idea how the dialogue plays and what sort of rhythm will characterize the final cut of the film, but this is an even more promising display than the first trailer.