HBO’s Watchmen & His Dark Materials Review

Watchmen is beautifully filmed. Some of it is beautifully written. It is certainly well acted. However, something has just felt….wrong. For one, it is a spin off of the GREATEST Graphic novel of all time. So great, it made time magazines top 100 novels, the ONLY comic to ever do so. As my husband pointed out to me, it takes a great deal of narcissism as a writer to deem yourself worthy of continuing a story like this. Secondly, the bad guys fall very short. The graphic novel painted multidimensional characters that were both good AND bad. The comedian was a sadistic murderer/rapist…
He also ended up caring about the daughter he fathered AND enough about humanity that it broke him and he refused to carry out Veidt’s plan to destroy New York.
Rorschach was both good and bad. GOOD, because he sought justice for injustice…to the point that a pedophile murderer broke him mentally…forcing him into torturous murder of said child fucker…slaughtering the dogs he fed the little girl to, and burning the pedophile alive.
Rorschach is a “Dexter” type character we could really sympathize with, but not without his own faults. Anti homosexual, anti sexuality, etc. In fact, all of the characters were. hell, I am getting those Original Silk Specter feels right now, being a former star that was once considered a “sex symbol”.
These characters were so wonderfully written, you could actually deeply sympathize with the devil. The knock off version placed in the future on HBO written by an ex Lost writer has ONE dimensional bad guys. They are white supremacists…wearing fan favorite Rorschach masks.
The KKK is a bad bad. There is no sympathetic facet to any of them, therefore this show loses the very thing that made the graphic novel such a masterpiece. It’s a counterfeit version pushing a current day political agenda with one dimensional characters, no matter how well they are acted.
Thirdly, this is stolen work. The story of how DC tricked Moore and Gibbons over and over is well known in the nerd community. This is damn right blasphemous to steal someone’s work and leverage on the greatness of it to propel your own ideas that fall incredibly short.
I wanted to love it, but I cant. Even Jeremy Irons and the rest of the amazing cast cant make me forgive how dumbed down this universe has become. It is so lackluster and trembles on the floor next to what inspired it. I’m not even going to get onto the repetition with Manhattans same ole plight, or how dumbed down the God has become in power. What made the movie amazing is that the CGI saved you from how dumb a man painted blue would look. The show exposes you to just that…an actor wearing blue paint. I might have forgiven it more without Manhattan,  but all I could do is cringe. Worse, are the fans. As a huge fan of the comic, to watch the fans turn into an angry a race war mob is almost …disgusting.
Now, His Dark Materials is damn near blowing my mind with its accuracy following the book. The cast has been greatly diversified in comparison to the film adaptation without even pointing it out or making a fuss about it, leading to you getting lost in a rich story without distraction. The daemons are very well done for television…
The actors, including Daphne Keen and James McAvoy are superb. The polar bears are pretty damn well done considering this is a TV show without the big movie budget The Golden Compass had. I also could forgive him NOT having the voice of Gandalf.
What the Golden Compass movie lacked in story, this version dishes out in heaps. Though the CGI budget isn’t that of the movie, the point is still coming across…and boy. Is it DARK! I mean, this thing really captures the pure evil of the Magisterium
and it really solidifies the multi dimensions of characters. Are they bad? Are they good? Are they good and bad? Something The Watchmen tv show is severely lacking.

The BBC usually gets things right and this show is right on the money. I was worried that I wouldn’t like the new cast in comparison with the well cast (but not well written) Golden Compass Movies, but I was wrong. I am inspired to reread the books simply because of the joy I feel seeing them come alive on screen. I am also inspired to reread the Watchmen,  if only to cleanse my palette of this lackluster television vehicle to promote a lesser writers political stance. He could have written his own stand alone show about this stuff without destroying the watchmen universe….but I doubt it would have got picked up without the hijacking of the life work of someone else.

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