Monday, March 2, 2009

Getting ready to watch "Watchmen"

I made the mistake this morning of glancing at negative reviews of "Watchmen" in The New Yorker and New York Magazine. Variety's review was a little more tempered. Early warnings aside, I'm still looking forward to the movie -- and also to the crowd. I'm going tonight (Monday).

Movies based on comic-book series tend to attract hordes of fanboy enthusiasts, young men bursting with geeky devotion. I'm talking guys who can discuss "Watchmen" with the kind of ardor and precision you'd normally expect only from Talmudists.

I'm no follower of comic-book series, so I rely on these guys. I usually get up to speed by interrogating the guy who has the misfortune of sitting next to me at a preview screening. This guy -- and, yes, there's always one -- is usually good for a comic-book crash course, which sometimes continues through the movie's opening credits, albeit in hushed tones. I'm hoping "Watchmen" will not be the first exception to my "ask-a-fanboy" rule. Look, the last thing I want to do is read a comic-book series. I'm a fan of Art Spiegelman ("Maus") and I loved "Persepolis," but I've got too many books on my nightstand to add "Watchmen" to the already teetering pile.

Author Alan Moore, a purported god of the form, supposedly used the "Watchmen" series to re-examine the superhero idea. Wikipedia trots out the dreaded "d" word for Moore's approach. I'm talking "deconstruction." Moore, by the way, also wrote "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and "V for Vendetta," both of which became movies.

Meanwhile, a Variety blog entry warns of possible fanboy backlash against the movie. If those guys turn against it, the movie's fortunes might begin to look Dow-like. I'd bet against it. It's difficult to imagine "Watchmen" not grabbing this week's top box-office spot.

All I know for sure is that the preview screening will be crowded; the anticipation, keen. Tune in later for an update on how I survived my night among the fanatics. My "Watchmen" review will appear Friday.

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