Short Movie Review: Watchmen

I don’t think Watchmen is impossible to adapt to film: The last couple decades of blockbuster superhero movies—and, arguably, the concurrent, increasing irrelevance of “mainstream” comics in the development of the “graphic novel”—might suggest to us that the superhero’s new natural home is on the big screen. It should have been possible to make the movie version of Watchmen a commentary on superhero movies in the same spirit as how the original was a commentary on comics.

That’s not the movie the director set out to make. Zack Snyder clearly has respect for the source material; in some ways, it’s a little too faithful an adaptation, with not enough changed or omitted to play to this different medium’s different strengths and weaknesses. You can’t just take a serialized story with a natural rhythm, provided by page and chapter breaks, and condense it into a 2.5-hour movie. Watching each character go through flashbacks during the Comedian’s funeral reminded me of how that technique has been used to good effect on Lost, leaving me to feel like this could have been done better as television. Of the changes and additions that were made, some made great sense to me (e.g., replacing the “squid” with something else quite logical), while others felt like they ironically undercut the intentions of the original work (e.g., excessive use of music in dramatic scenes, slow-motion in moments better presented at an even rhythm, and a sex scene so drawn out and reminiscent of softcore porn that I’m almost willing to give credit for being intentionally awkward). In short, this was an ambitious, well-intentioned failure, but at least it was no LXG.

Doomcast: Pants on Fire

Episode three of our continuing podcast adventures sees Tony and Dan consider a number of important issues:

  • aliases, noms de guerre, and the legend of Biff
  • matters mendacious
  • reader feedback
  • cryptozoology revisited

Download, for your listening enjoyment. [18m 50s]

Daily Doom 3/9/09

Once again we present our weekly feature in which we share stories of doom and general strangeness, culled from the far reaches of the internet. 

Above and Beyond

  • Illinois Declares Pluto a Planet. Surprise surprise, Pluto was discovered by a man born in Illinois. The Illinois legislature then goes on to make the erroneous claim that Pluto is the only “planet” discovered by Americans. In retaliation, the other 49 states are declaring objects to be planets willy-nilly, including [Eris](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eris_(dwarf_planet)), [Ceres](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceres_(dwarf_planet)), and the Death Star (which is neither a moon nor a planet and rather, as most astronomers agree, a fictional space station.)
  • Asteroid barely misses Earth. As opposed to most stories of these sort that take place hundreds of years down the road this sounds like an actual “close call.” Not that we [couldn’t see this coming](http://www.theonion.com/content/opinion/do_we_really_want_another_black), right?

Silly things you can buy

Terrifying Animal News

Military Issues

YouTube Video of the week

Short Movie Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The third and final installment in Leone’s Dollars trilogy is the lengthiest and the most iconic, if for nothing other than [its trademark theme](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ennio_Morricone-The_Good,_The_Bad_And_The_Ugly.ogg). Eastwood’s Man with No Name (here called “Blondie”) is the good, taking on the bad, in the form of the amoral contract killer Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef, who played the sympathetic Colonel Mortimer in [*For a Few Dollars More*](http://doombot.com/2008/12/09/short-movie-review-for-a-few-dollars-more/)). Then there’s the ugly, Mexican bandit Tuco, played by a show-stealing Eli Wallach, who can’t quite escape his Brooklyn accent and occasionally looks eerily like a pudgy Dustin Hoffman. All three are looking for a box of Union coins, but the convoluted plot features more twists and alliances than your average game of *Risk*. The version I saw was the extended 2002 version, with an almost twenty additional minutes of footage that had never before made it into the English cut and required Eastwood and Wallach to return to dub more lines 35 years after the original film (van Cleef had died in the meantime, with another actor filling his role—and I also swear I caught [*The Middleman*’s](http://doombot.com/2008/07/22/short-television-review-the-middleman/) Matt Keeslar in the credits, though I haven’t been able to confirm). Frankly, several of the cut scenes probably could have been left on the floor, since they stretch the movie out almost 3 hours, and make it lag in parts, but whole film—including the 5-minute Mexican standoff at the end—is still a work of beauty.

An Ad Blocker with an Axe

Readability is a bookmarklet that clears the visual clutter from a web page so you can just see the text. As the person who posted it to undrln notes, it’s a “Useful hack, and sad commentary on the state of webdesign all in one…”

Basically, you set some parameters on the site linked above, add a button to your bookmarks toolbar, and hit that button anytime you want to put the text on a page into a neat column. As far as I can tell, this works by replacing the stylesheet of whatever page you’re looking at, which means that it could be going even further than it is now. Just refresh the page to make it go back to normal. It’s not perfect—one page I tried it on ended up losing a graphic that should’ve been included—but it is an “experiment,” after all. I’m hoping future versions of this will let us mess with fonts and leading a bit more.

Update: I can’t help but notice that using this on our own Doombot.com works all wrong. Hah. From now on, I test to see whether a service makes me look good before I recommend it to the world.

Daily Doom 3/2/2009

Dan and I are resurrecting an old feature of this site, The Daily Doom, in which we share with you stories of doom, weirdness, and general strangeness from all corners of the Internet. 

Of course, by “daily” we mean the lesser-used secondary definition of “weekly.”

Animal Kingdom:

Partisan Politics:

  • Vice President Biden, appearing on a talk show to promote the stimulus bill, blanks on the name of the website and asks an aide for the website “number.” Biden later attempted to repair his gaffe by appearing in the White House press room to say “209.225.35.43, bitches!”
  • Recently elected RNC Chairman Michael Steel says the party needs a hip-hop make over, and promises a public relations campaign that will be “off the hook.”I don’t think we can add anything to that.
  • Obama vs Optimus Prime (important: not real!) – Who will wrest control of the Matrix of Leadership?

Fictional Space Issues:

Bonus Doom: