Dec 10 2008 1:13pm

Comic Con’s “Watchmen” Preview: The Good, the Bad, and the Veidt

Last night, Warner Brothers released the Watchmen preview that aired at this year’s Comic Con. In lieu of a “leak,” they just admitted that the Internet is a great publicity tool and made it available as a free iTunes download. It’s halfway between a trailer and a string of clips selected at random, and some of it has by now been featured in theatrical trailers, but there’s enough new stuff here to interest a casual fan, and enough evidence of obsessive moviemaking to make diehard fans happy (or at least less panicked).

While the footage has reportedly been trimmed of some violence, it’s largely intact—and largely awesome. Under the cut, I break down the good, the bad, and the Veidt.

The world will look up and shout, “No spoilers!”

The Good

1. Our first look at Rorschach’s shifting mask, which is as subtle and creepy as anyone could hope.

2. The overall griminess of the production design is extremely effective; from the mildew creeping across the tile beside the Nite Owl uniforms to the truly nasty streaks of slime on the prison walls, this world is as bleak and run-down as Moore intended.

3. The Comedian has a framed picture of Laura in his apartment. (I won’t lie, I made a little noise.)

4. The shot of The Comedian looking up at Silk Spectre and grinning means very little unless you’re in the know, but gives you goose bumps if you are.

5. Patrick Wilson as Dan Dreiberg. He gained weight for the role rather than wear a padded suit, and he seems to have committed as much to the part in every other respect—he’s the ultimate sad-sack Everyman who’s trying to recapture the greatness he never achieved on the first go-round.

The Bad

1. Laurie Juspeczyk seems impossibly young, and all the awesome hair in the world is not going to help that.

2. Too much Dr. Manhattan. The more we see of Billy Crudup in the role the less I’m convinced he can do the job, and that’s probably not the effect anyone was going for.

3. Where’s the world? Zack Snyder solicited for homemade ads for Veidt products to run in the background, so we know he’s building it out; let’s see it!

4. Are they setting up Dan Dreiberg as the romantic hero? We get several close-ups and two near-kisses in three minutes of footage, and while I’m as fond of Dan as anyone, the whole point of Watchmen is to take the idea of the romantic hero out back and beat the snot out of it to teach it a lesson.

5. No dialogue! Is it because they knew no one would hear anything over the sound of a thousand fans flipping out?

The Veidt

1. I understand that the studio is trying to keep him on the down-low, but it’s getting ridiculous. We only get one shot of him, and he looks like Lestat got into a fight with Christopher Walken and lost. I worry.

Hot Promotional-Footage Action!

Felicity Shoulders
1. Felicity
It certainly seems like they're cramming just about all of Watchmen in there. On the one hand, that's good for being true to the source material. On the other hand, I wonder how they can pull that off in a reasonable amount of time and not have the pacing of a ferret on sugar.

Have I missed some rumors about the length of the movie?
Eric Gregory
2. egregory
Felicity @ 1: It was originally about three hours. They've trimmed the theatrical version to two-and-a-half.
3. 1derwhy
Prays for a director's cut
Troy Lissoway
4. Troylis
I'm not too worried about Laurie's age. Even in the series she's at least a decade younger than Dan—Manhattan hooks up with her while she's still in her teens, if I remember correctly.
Steven Torres-Roman
5. torresroman
To be fair, a significant part of the Watchmen storyline is the growing relationship between Dan and Laurie. Taking the romanticism and glory out of the superhero as icon is one thing, but Dan's romance is all about finding a connection in a world gone mad.
Stephen W
6. Xelgaex
@3 Here's some info on the extended version. It looks like there might be a director's cut and a Black Freighter version.
Arachne Jericho
7. arachnejericho
Watchmen is a romance, among many other things. The triangle between Dan, Laurie, and Jon is as representative of the overall structure of the book as anything else, especially since both Dan and Laurie are " II". The motif of the shadow of the lovers produced by the blast of an atomic bomb repeats throughout the book; Dan and Laurie. And Jon/Dr. Manhattan.

Dr. Manhattan is also, of the superheroes in the story, the only "true" superhero inasmuch as he has actual super powers. His story is also one of the most poignant in the book, and so I'm not surprised that there's quite a bit of him around and abouts.
- -
8. heresiarch
Keeping Veidt out like that will just make him seem even more suspicious.
9. rogerothornhill
I still mourn for that dream cast that was announced for one earlier packaging of the film. Haley and Morgan seem right here, but I still think John Cusack a few years back would have been a perfect Nite Owl. And they were evidently so close to getting Cruise for Veidt. My God, talk about casting to type! Think of it--absolutely, serenely convinced of his own correctness even as he does something schizophrenically totalitarian. Ever since I heard that, I've seen him as Veidt in the final issue.
Dayle McClintock
10. trinityvixen
Rorschach looks fantastic, so I'm staying optimistic.

heresiarch, your comment just made me go into Clue dialogue with myself:

"If we let Ozymandias STAY in the picture, the fans may become suspicious!"

"If we throw him out, the fans will become MORE suspicious!"

"If I were them, I'd be suspicious already!"

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