Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Melbourne - the new Boneville!?

Went to the Docklands in Melbourne earlier this year to watch the Cirque du Soleil - Dralion. While we were walking down the Docklands pier, we chanced upon some strangely and yet familiar sculptures.

They looked like the characters from Jeff Smith's all-ages award winning Bone comic book series!

Have Fone Bone, Smiley Bone and Phoncible P. Bone moved over from Boneville and now call Melbourne "home"? You be the judge!

Could this be one of the Bone cousins (sans arms and legs)?

A photo op with one of the Bones!

The structure looks like Fone Bone in particular, as the picture below shows:

Pretty cool, eh? An eerie resemblence!

I love Jeff Smith's Bone. Aeris got me the phonebook-size softcover omnibus that had all 60 issues of the series, but I fell in love with the story and the characters so much that I went and got the hardcover colour editions as well! In fact, I just recently got the ninth and final colour HC volume to finish off my collection! It's a brilliant series and well worth collecting.

I highly recommend Bone, which can be enjoyed be people of all ages!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Review: Pokemon Platinum for Nintendo DS

It's finally time for me to review a game that has already taken Japan and the US by storm, and more recently, Australia, since its release about a month to six weeks back: Pokemon Platinum!

Now, before I get into the guts of the actual review itself, allow me to wax lyrical and take a trip down memory lane and share with everyone my Pokemon experience and journey thus far.

Pokemon hit me like a yawn; it came out of nowhere but it was highly contagious (and addictive). I remember my first exposure to the 151 Pokemon creatures (yes, there were only 151 of the little critters over a decade ago) when I saw some interesting and odd animal figurines being sold in some hobby shops in Singapore.

Those turned out to be Pokemon, which I discovered a few short months later. I had read about this "fad" that had taken Japan by storm and was becoming increasingly popular in the US as well as a result of the cartoon. So I just had to find out for myself what was so popular about this fad which many people would say would only last for a short while (over a decade on and it's going stronger than ever, so take that, naysayers!).

It was around this time I was "experimenting" with other types of gaming that wasn't on the PC; console gaming in short. I had been playing games all my life but my only real exposure to any console games was playing Super Mario Bros and the original Legend of Zelda on my friends' NES when I was a kid, playing Streets of Rage and Ice Hockey (or was it NHL?) '93 on my cousin's Sega Megadrive when I was in my teens, and also borrowing and playing that same cousin's Game Boy...the really old one "greenscreen" LCD.

So I didn't have much console gaming experience. Sure, I knew some of the more popular games because I had seen or heard of them, but I certainly never tried any out and I was more keen on playing either video games from the arcade or PC-centric stuff like Starcraft, Unreal Tournament and Quake 2.

But I was about the enter the Army and wouldn't really get a chance to play any of these PC games, so it occured to me, it might be a good idea to get a portable console. The only ones around at the time were the Game Boy systems and Sega's Game Gear, which wasn't very popular and didn't have as many games as the Game Boy had, so it was an easy choice for me to go down to Sim Lim Square and purchase my very first console, a purple Game Boy Color.

Of course, I couldn't just get the Game Boy without a game, so the very first game I purchased was Pokemon Red:

I can't remember whether it was a conscious or spontaneous decision to purchase Pokemon. I could have purchased Pokemon Red because subliminally, I had been exposed to it or heard about it so often that something "convinced" me to give it a try. But I just could have as easily decided on my own that I WANTED to give Pokemon a try, without needing that extra push. I can't remember anymore.
I played the game through without needing to refer to any walkthrus, without any cheats or hints or referring to guidebooks. To say that I was hooked to the game is a MASSIVE understatement. I must have clocked up in excess of 60 to 70 hours during the first run of the game!

Something about the game just drew me into it. I certainly enjoyed the RPG elements and training your Pokemon so they'd grow bigger and stronger...I equated Pokemon to virtual pets back in those days (since we were not too far off from the cessation of the Tamagotchi fad). Those little Pokemon had certainly grown on me!

What was amazing was that for such a simple concept where you "grew" your Pokemon for the purposes of battle, it was so thoroughly engrossing! There was this whole huge backstory as well and I just absorbed as much of it as I possibly could. Or so I thought back in those days during that first run.

So I played the game a second time around, this time checking the walkthrus online and I found out there was so much I had missed. I tried my best to collect all 151 Pokemon (gotta catch 'em all!) and it was a pretty futile attempt, considering that I didn't have Pokemon Blue in which it had the other half-set of creatures in the game. Needless to say, I clocked up even MORE game time the second time around.

But while I didn't get Pokemon Blue, I certainly did get Pokemon Yellow when it was released:

Pokemon Yellow wasn't that much different from Pokemon Red/Blue! In fact, it was pretty much the SAME GAME, with a few different tweaks. Instead of choosing between Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle, you were given Pikachu right at the start in Pokemon Yellow and he'd follow you around for the whole game. Guess it made marketing sense for a Pokemon game to be released where you started off with Pikachu, given Pikachu's popularity in the cartoon.

I watched the cartoon too in the first season and even though it was fairly juvenile, I'd still watch it because I was addicted to Pokemon! I even played the Pokemon Trading Card game released by Wizards of the Coast (in place of Magic: the Gathering as I had quit the game by then) and I still have many of the original cards from the first base set and the following two expansions, all of which are now worth nothing since all cards printed by WoTC are now defunct and unplayable outside of a casual environment.

I was so into Pokemon that I got myself a SECOND Game Boy Color, in Pikachu Yellow (though I think the officially named colour was "Dandelion") and I also got myself a yellow Pokemon Game Boy pouch to hold that Game Boy Color and my games:

Yes, I certainly was addicted to this "fad". But I was also convinced that it would end after only a few years. Who knew how strong the appeal for Pokemon would be that it's still going strong over all these years?

Pokemon Yellow started the trend with Pokemon games that have been released over the years; there would be a simultaneous release of two Pokemon games that were essentially the same game except with different available Pokemon in the game. And then an updated version of the game would be released about two years later, which had all the available Pokemon from the first two games, contained pretty much the same storyline, but with some additional tweaks to the story and gameplay.

This was the case with Pokemon Red/Blue which had Yellow as the "updated" version of either game. Gold/Silver had the Crystal "update", Ruby/Sapphire had the Emerald "update" and now Pokemon Platinum is the updated version of Pokemon Pearl/Diamond.

So let's get this warning out of the way: if you already HAVE played Pokemon Pearl/Diamond and are pretty satisfied not shelling out money for essentially the same game (albeit with nifty new functions and updates), then DON'T purchase Platinum. From what I've heard though, even those who have already completed Pearl/Diamond, went right out and purchased Platinum anyway. Such is the marketing and appeal of the Pokemon games that Nintendo doesn't really need to twist one's arm to get you to go out to purchase a second copy of essentially the same game you already have or played before!

Of course, having never played Pokemon Pearl/Diamond before (but hearing so much positive stuff about it), I felt it was finally time to dip my toe back into the Pokemon waters, after a decade since I originally purchased the first game. It helped that the cartoon is still going strong (though I never watched more than a few random episodes of the later series) and that I had played Pokemon Red all over again from scratch about 2.5 to 3 years back when still living in Geelong!

So my love affair with Pokemon started again. And boy, the changes between the fairly blase LCD graphics from the Game Boy Color (with minimal colours) to the bright and colourful graphics of the Nintendo DS was staggering! The music was greatly improved too, but the general gameplay is pretty much the same.

There were quite a lot of new options I hadn't been exposed to before which took some time for me to get used to. With the Game Boy Color, there was only one screen and two action buttons. But with the Nintendo DS, there were the dual screens AND four action buttons, not to mention the shoulder buttons (which I don't think are used anyway)...and of course, the touchscreen and stylus.
I'd only been used to one-on-one battles but got my first exposure of two-on-two battles with Platinum. And there were only a handful of Pokemon creature types in the original Red/Blue games whereas there seems to be a multitude of creature types now...thankfully it's fairly straightforward to use one's common sense to work out which creature types are stronger/weaker to specific opposing types.

The gameplay is more fluid with the DS dualscreens, since you can have the action one the top screen and anything else on the bottom one. There's this nifty Poketch watch which you are given during the game which has heaps of different applications you can obtain from talking to people in the game and it's nice to have that level of customisation to determine what you want to appear on the touchscreen; the time, the current Pokemon in your party, a Pokemon "screensaver", a pedometer, etc etc. Intuitive and fun!

The game also takes into account which day it is and what time of the day it is. When it's night time, the game becomes "dark" as it simulates night. Only certain Pokemon come out at night which means you can only catch them within a specific period; same works for Pokemon that only come out during the day. There are weather patterns during the game itself, which will hinder or aid you during Pokemon battles.

From what I've read, Platinum is the "ultimate" update of Pearl/Diamond and having read what differences there are in Platinum to Pearl/Diamond, I can understand why people who already have Pearl/Diamond go out to purchase Platinum anyway.

Platinum introduces Giratina, a legendary Pokemon that was featured in its own movie (and there are 12, yes 12! Pokemon movies to date) and a new area called the "Distortion World" where natural physical laws don't apply. There are also more Wi-Fi connectivity features and facilities like a Wi-Fi plaza and an arcade area where players can play minigames against each other online.

But probably the best part about the new features is the Vs. Recorder which allows players to record their greatest (or worst) battles between Pokemon and then share the battles with friends and other people via Wi-Fi. Sort of like YouTube but specifically for Pokemon battles!

I've probably played only 1/4 or 1/3 of the game but have already clocked up in excess of 20 hours (which is the reason why I haven't been blogging of late, other than being extremely busy at work). But there is still so much of the game to explore, so many more battles to be fought and so many more secrets to discover.

I'm glad I've rediscovered Pokemon and am reliving the (new) experience all over again!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Review: A more detailed comparison of Perth CBD's comic shops

So I had a lot more free time today as it is my last day in Perth and I didn't have anything concrete planned for the day. So I decided to revisit all the comic and pop culture shops in Perth again, except Tokyo Underground.

Spent more time at Empire Toys, browsing through the racks of graphic novels and manga in greater detail. Afterwhich I went to Quality Comics quickly, then visited Fantastic Planet for the first time. My last stop, later in the afternoon, was at Comiczone, before coming back to the hotel to rest and relax before heading off to the airport to catch the flight back to Melbourne.

Now that I've visted the four shops that sell graphic novels, here are my opinions and comparisons between the shops.

Please note, before anyone gets heated up arguing for or against one shop, this is entirely MY opinion based on the products that were available in each shop, shop space, variety of products, etc. Even though I returned to most shops for a second day, I've really only spent perhaps half an hour tops in each shop. Also, apart from the "hi/bye" greetings, I've only really interacted with the person working at Quality Comics, chatting about comics.

Quality Comics has easily the largest shop space. It had a huge variety of graphic novels and single issues, and also sold a number of different manga and DVDs. Not enough manga that I'd go back to purchase specific titles I'd be after because there wasn't enough variety. The shop assistant who engaged me in conversation was extremely helpful, friendly and knowledgeable, which is always a plus!

Quality Comics seemed to have best and lowest prices. There were heaps of back issues and I really liked the fact that the displayed single issues and graphic novels were all coverface-up, that is, you could see the front covers displayed as opposed to having to tilt your head to one side to check out what graphic novel it was from the book's spine. This makes it really easy to see if there was something that one is particuarly after; perhaps the comics can be displayed this way because of the huge amount of space in the shop.

Comiczone, while having a smaller space size, certainly used it very well. The majority of the shelved graphic novels couldn't be displayed coverface-up and you had to identify graphic novels by the book spine, but the latest and most popular graphic novels were all displayed so that you can see the front cover. It works well this way too because not only does it save space, but it's not always very often that someone would be looking for an old graphic novel...and if they were, they could always ask the people working in the shop, who appeared extremely friendly just like I remembered the last time!

The single issues were also displayed coverface-up. The difference between Comiczone and the rest, and this is a really good thing that I like, was the fact that they didn't put barcode pricetags on the graphic novel/single issue (or protective sleeve); the pricetag is actually on the shelf itself, keeping the comic free from blemishes! As you can imagine, this would mean that they would need a very organised and tidy shelving system, which they had. The other shops also had a very good shelving system, but I think Comiczone's stands out.

They also had quite a number of single back issues, though not as many as Quality Comics. And they were still giving out free button-badges! I didn't grab any this time around though. And Comiczone certainly seems to also support local comics and local comic creators; from memory I believe Ben Templesmith is an avid supporter of Comiczone (he buys his comics here too, perhaps, if Mr Templesmith DOES indeed purchase comics?) and I saw the business card of a Paul Spencer, who I believe is a local comics letterer.

Empire Toys had about the same shop space as Comiczone but a lot more product. Everything was organised neatly into product type; there was an aisle specifically for toys and action figures, another for graphic novels and one more for manga. They even had a specific section for anime/Japanese merchandise and products and one for DVDs!

Empire Toys had the most variety of manga titles and I know if I were to look for a specific manga title or back issue, that would be the first place I would start as it would be more likely that I'd find it at Empire Toys. They also sold a variety of animated/comic-related/pop culture-related DVDs, the most of all the shops that I'm comparing.

They didn't have a lot of single issues though; those that were available were of titles by "mainstream" creators like My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way's Umbrella Academy, Stephen King's Dark Tower and Joe Hill's Locke and Key. It also seemed that the graphic novels here were the most expensive of the shops compared.

Fantastic Planet specialises in selling science fiction novels, so as you can imagine, it had the smallest shop space and most of the product were novels. They did have a small graphic novel section though, and there was a table in the middle of the shop space with some of the more famous graphic novels displayed on the table.

Most of the graphic novels they had were by acclaimed comic authors like Alan Moore; Watchmen, Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, Top 10; Frank Miller; Daredevil, Sin City; and Neil Gaiman; Sandman. They also sold acclaimed series like Preacher. So not a lot of variety if you're after graphic novels, but it certainly catered to those sci-fi lovers who wanted to dabble in the graphic novel medium.

So which is the best shop? Well, that's the beauty of it...there IS no best shop. Each shop had its own key strengths and would appeal to different demographics. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.

If I were after manga or toys/action figures, I'd go to Empire Toys.

If I were after science fiction novels, I'd go to Fantastic Planet.

And I'd be happy to go to either Quality Comics or Comiczone for my single issues and graphic novels; probably Quality Comics if I'm looking for old back issues/graphic novels, and Comiczone for comic-related products such as busts.

If you're living in Perth and are a comic book fan, you're certainly spoilt for choice! It's good being a comic book fan in Perth.

The return of Captain America is imminent!

Start counting down, ladies and gents, because after more than two years, Steve Rogers is set to return to the Marvel 616 Universe (that's the regular Marvel Universe for those who aren't in the know)!

The American icon returns in issue #600...how can the numbering system jump from the #40s to #600 you wonder? Well, Marvel are going back to the original numbering system and the return issue would be Cap's 600th issue, if you add up all the issues from the various series.

Ed Brubaker's run on the current Captain America series has been hailed as one of the greatest ever and even though I don't buy the single issues of the regular series (I'm awaiting for the Omnibus instead...already have Volume One which reprints the first 25 issues of Brubaker's run on the title), I'll be sure to run out to grab Captain America #600!

The article about Steve Rogers' return is featured here on the Marvel.com website:

Reborn Revealed

Monday, June 15, 2009

Perth Comic Shops! Part Deux

So here I am in Perth again...six weeks short of having first come here two years ago! Of course, without it needing to be said, I absolutely had to check out the Perth comic shops, despite spending about half a day less here, compared to the last trip.

I certainly remember a couple of comic shops from my last visi, both located along Hay Street in the Perth CBD: Comicszone and Quality Comics.

I also remember there were quite some heated arguments regarding which was the better Perth comic shop in the nearly two years since I posted up the original blog entry, Perth Comic Shops! .

I didn't realise my innocent blog entry would open up such a huge can of worms, but everyone's entitled to their opinions and there didn't seem to be anything deragatory or too inflammatory so there was no need to cull any comments. Those comments are still there for anyone who wants to join in the debate:

Comments from visitors after the original blog entry

Thankfully, there was no unwanted negative exposure of my little blog...and I still maintain it's a VERY little blog that hardly anyone ever visits...I have this blog because I love my comics and video games and pop culture and whenever I want to post something up for posterity's sake, this is the best place for me to express my opinions.

Anyway! Enough of that. By the time anyone reads this new blog entry, I'd probably have been back in Melbourne for a couple of weeks (or more likely, months), happily continuing my comic-shopping-patronage with Classic Comics.

Of course, Classic Comics doesn't have everything I'm looking for and when I can't get something from there or Comics R Us or Minotaur, when in a different country or state, since I'm already compelled to go visit the other comic book shops in that country/state/city, might as well go hunting for those comics that I can't get to add to my collection, hey?

I knew exactly where Comicszone (I seem to remember it being known as The Comic Zone back in 2007...a name change prehaps?) and Quality Comics was along Hay Street, but I wanted to see if I could find any other comics and pop culture shops in the Perth CBD. So I did some research via the trusty yellow pages AND just taking a walk along Hay Street on Sunday evening.

There were five such shops in the Perth CBD, four along Hay Street itself and one along Shafto Lane:

Comiczone - 572 Hay Street
Quality Comics - 872 Hay Street
Empire Toys - 856 Hay Street
Tokyo Underground - The Basement, 816 Hay Street
Fantastic Planet - Shop 8, Shafto Lane

I also saw a sign for Infinite Planet, with Boba Fett on the sign itself, but I believe this shop has been replaced by Tokyo Underground/Freaks + Geeks, since they share the exact same address. Or maybe it's the exact same shop that has just had a name change! Not quite sure there.

Anyway, Comiczone and Quality Comics focused on selling comics and graphic novels. Comiczone seemed to also sell quite a number of pop culture/movie related toys; there were movie Watchmen action figures/toys as well as some busts in the shop display window. Quality Comics a bigger store space and seemingly more comics/graphic novels on display!

The one thing that was a change from two years ago, which surprised me, was that the Quality Comics single issues and graphic novels (in both the tradepaperback and hardcover variety) were on the whole cheaper than Comiczone, which certainly didn't seem to be the case two years ago when I was here.

I just did some very quick price comparisons and the new single issues and graphic novels were a bit cheaper at Quality Comics. Not quite sure whether this was due to the large "under new management" sign that was on the wall as I was walking down the steps into Quality Comics...perhaps in the two years I was away, Ben Templesmith was right in his comment in suggesting that having more than one comic shop in Perth would be good, competition-wise! Hey, with freedom of choice, the people that would win out would be the patrons.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find what I was looking for; to be honest, I doubt I'd be able to find it anywhere else, so this is certainly not a knock on either shops' stocks. The stuff I'm after is pretty much impossible to find nowadays, which is WHY I cannot find them in the Melbourne shops (or online) and why I actually have to go elsewhere in an attempt to find them:

The Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol.1 Hardcover
The Absolute Authority Vol.1 Hardcover
New X-Men Omnibus Hardcover
Absolute Planetary Hardcover
Absolute Danger Girl Hardcover
Alias Omnibus Hardcover
Stardust Hardcover
Young Avengers Hardcover

Heck, these aren't even available on Amazon and some of the more famous American comic book shops (unless one's willing to pay exorbitant prices for them), so I wasn't really expecting a miracle that any of the Perth comic shops would be stocking them.

I did pick up the following books from Quality Comics: new Batman and Robin #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (since I had read that it was just selling out everywhere...this wouldn't even be someting I'd consider as part of my grab list normally!), The Sentry TPB that had its price slashed by about half, School Rumble Volume 9 (manga), which I haven't been able to find in Melbourne, and Boys Be Volume 16 (manga) which was cheap at $5!

The one thing that really impressed me was the the guy serving me at Quality Comics engaged me in a conversation regarding the Morrison and Quitely team, which I quite enjoyed. Don't get enough opportunities to talk about comics to my other friends, so I always welcome a comics or pop culture related chat!

So I've had two extremely positive experiences, one each at Comiczone and Quality Comics. As someone who's travelled all the way here from Melbourne, let me just say it's really impressive and you guys are doing a fantastic job!

I didn't expect to find anything but toys, action figures and the like at Empire Toys, but was pleasantly surprised when I saw a huge collection of graphic novels on the shelves! Couldn't find stuff from the list of comics I was after above (once again, not a knock against the shop!) and the prices were a bit more expensive than the same items sold at Quality Comics.

Tokyo Underground reminded me a lot of Tamarket back in Melbourne in that it sold anime and Japanese-related products...lots of Nintendo products there! They also sold quite a bit of costumes for the budding cosplayers out there! Got myself a blue mushroom (from Super Mario Bros) keychain for myself and a Totoro tote bag and a Totoro foldable-fan for Aeris.

Haven't gone to Fantastic Planet yet, and I don't think I'll make a trip there unless I have some free time. I certainly saw that they sold graphic novels but it seems like a shop that focuses more on selling sci-fi novels.

The variety of comic and pop culture shops in the Perth CBD itself is certainly extremely impressive! Perth comic book geeks: you guys are so lucky and I'm so envious of you! Variety is the spice of life and you can have your pick of shops...once again, the patrons are the winners!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Review: Rhythm Heaven for Nintendo DS

When I was at Forest Hill last Thursday, purchased a new game by Nintendo for the DS: Rhythm Heaven (also known as Rhythm Tengoku in Japan):

I read a bit about this game from the previews in both Ultimate Nintendo Magazine and Official Nintendo Magazine, but while the premise seemed pretty keen and kooky, I didn't think it was something that I'd be spending my money on.

As one might already guess from the title "Rhythm Heaven", this game is a rhythm/music-type game where one had to coordinate one's actions with the stylus to the beat prompts on the screen. Think games like any of the Dance Dance Revolution games in arcades, the Guitar Hero line of games, Samba de Amigo on the Wii and one of my personal favourites, Elite Beat Agents on the DS.

I've been a huge fan of Elite Beat Agents ever since Dean introduced me to the game not long after I first purchased my DS Lite in 2007. There was something so unbelievable "attractive" about three Men-In-Black-esque secret agents using dance to solve mundane problems and eventually, save the world. The premise of the game might have been kooky, but the game played brilliantly!

After all, what other game would you be able to use your stylus to tap in time with the rhythmic beats of such classics like The Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash", Earth, Wind and Fire's "September" and perhaps the most overplayed track of all in the game (at least by Aeris), The Village People's "YMCA"?

Ok, sure those tracks weren't the originals by the original groups/singers, and were just covers, but they were covers that were done pretty well! And who cares if the music wasn't original...it's the gameplay that matters! And Elite Beat Agents worked just brilliantly; to this day, I'm still aching to play the Japanese equivalent (and precursor to the English version of Elite Beat Agents): Ouendan!

So, a game like Rhythm Heaven, which was similar to Elite Beat Agents in so many ways...surely I would be purchasing this game right? Nah.

For one, I thought it would be just another run-of-the-mill rhythm game and wouldn't have anywhere close to the charm of Elite Beat Agents. Sure, it had more than just tap-tap-tapping, including flicking the stylus and "reverse-tapping", where you keep the stylus on the screen and pull it upwards to "hit" a beat, but surely that wouldn't be enough variation for me!

So I wasn't going to get the game. That is, until, I saw the TV advertisements for the game.

In fact, see for yourself!

This was the ad that convinced me the game would be fun enough to purchase! Add to the fact that someone from Ecogamer had found a pretty cheap release price of $34.95 at Target (most places had the game for sale at $44 which is a pretty good price already), so I was sold on the game!

So what's so good about the game? Well, it's fun. Really fun. I mean REALLY REALLY fun. It would seem like filling up robots with oil or returning ping pong balls and even being a "groupie" at a Japanese concert would be too weird for a game, but somehow, Nintendo have made Rhythm Heaven one of the hottest selling games ever with its simple but addictive mini-rhythm games!

Just the first game alone, while simple, hooked me onto the game. Called "Built to Scale", it involved you flicking the stylus when it reached the "So" portion of Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So. The next game, "Glee Club" is easily my favourite game so far. You're the third singer in a trio of singers and your mouth remains open...until the stylus touches the screen, which closes your singer's mouth. Cue a jazz song and you need to "sing" in time to the beat! If you don't, the two other singers in the trio give you the stink-eye.

I'm a bit iffy on the third game, "Fillbots", where you fill up a couple of robots on an assembly line with oil/fuel, but I really like "Fan Club", the fourth game, where you're a monkey groupie that needs to gee up the crowd by clapping your hands (by tapping the stylus) and basically making a monkey of yourself...which is quite appropriate because the groupies are all monkeys!

And then there's the 1st remix, which is a combination of the first four games, mixed up with a nice beat. I've only played the first six games, but already I'm having heaps of fun, and I think I'll be bringing this game with me when I go for a short holiday in Perth!

Incidentally, while on the topic, that means I'll probably get to visit the two fantastic Perth comic shops too. Just a quick aside and back to the review.

This game is too fun not to have. And at the cheap introductory price of $34.95 at Target (or $44 which is still pretty good, if the Target offer expires), you can find out why it's selling so well and why there's so much hype in Japan about this game! And you might as well get a nice 150 Club Nintendo points when you register this game with your Club Nintendo account.

So to leave you, just another Rhythm Heaven ad featuring Beyonce playing my favourite mini-game so far: Glee Club!

Built to Scale

Glee Club

Friday, May 15, 2009

Review: World of Goo

Just downloaded one of the simplest and yet immensely enjoyable games from the Nintendo WiiWare site this week: World of Goo.

I have read quite a number of rave reviews about this little game by independent games developer 2D Boy from the two Nintendo magazines I subscribe to, Official Nintendo Magazine and Ultimate Nintendo Magazine. And since I finally got my Wii hooked up to the internet in the past week, and I had some Nintendo Points that were won in an eBay auction, I decided to download this title to see what the fuss was all about.

Now at 1500 Nintendo Points, World of Goo is most expensive game one can download from the Nintendo Shop online, from both the Virtual Console and WiiWare line of games. With 1000 Wii Points costing AUD$15, the World of Goo game costs a hefty $22.50, perhaps a piddling in price compared to the latest Wii games released in shops, but well higher priced than classic goodness like the Super Mario Bros line of games or some of the Zelda games available on the Virtual Console.

Let me just say that World of Goo is well worth the high price tag.

I haven't even cleared the first chapter yet but have already spent quite a number of hours on this game. It is fun, simple, addictive and immensely replayable. It has all the hallmarks of a classic game and even though I hadn't read the rules to the game, it took me about a few seconds to work out how to play the game and what the objective was!

In a nutshell, the game involves you controlling a whole bunch of globular "goo" balls in order to build structures, horizontally or vertically. Each chapter has various stages but the main objective is always the same: there is a "vent" or an "exit point" and you need to build your structures with the goo balls so that the tip of the structure is close enough to the exit point and your goo balls can then escape the level and you can move onto the next one.

That's really it. It's that simple. It's not an easy game to play though as a lot of strategy is involved. Your goo balls are alive: think those little black "ball" creatures in Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away", where they are malleable, constantly moving and have those big little eyes for comedic effect. That's what the goo balls look like.

In some instances, once a goo ball has been used to form part of a structure, it becomes an inanimate "joint". This is where one has to be careful: you have a limited number of goo balls in each level and you have a set number of goo balls you need to help "escape" from that level. So you can't just use up all your goo balls because if you do and you can't reach the set minimum number of goo balls escaping that level, you need to start the level again.

There ARE some levels where the goo balls remain animate even after using them as structure "joints" though. In those levels you can just "break" a goo ball off your structure and reposition it. So in those sorts of levels, if your structure falls apart, just like Lego blocks, you can take apart your goo balls and start all over again.

The physics of the game are pretty amazing and realistic. All too often I built a structure as high as I possibly could, only for it to come crashing down because it was just unstable at the bottom and couldn't sustain an even distribution of weight.

Found out that this game is also available on the PC, which makes sense: if you can use a Wiimote to point-and-click and build structures, of course you should be able to do the same with a mouse since a mouse offers greater accuracy and precision!

Which brings me to the little "mouse cursor" from the WiiWare version of the game. The "cursor" is a little black blob that is "malleable" in nature; it stretches, it bends and it forms shapes when you move the Wiimote quickly. Highly entertaining to watch the little cursor blob when you've got nothing better to do!

The graphics are top notch too, are is the music, which is a touch eerie. In fact, the game is very Tim Burton-esque: if Tim decided to stop making movies such as Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas and started his own game company, World of Goo would be the game that has all the traditional Burton hallmarks: dark, quirky and hauntingly beautiful.

World of Goo has also won multiple gaming awards as indicated in its Wikipedia entry here:

World of Goo Wikipedia entry

Simply put, this is a MUST GET if you own a Nintendo Wii and can get online to download the game. Heck, if you can't get it, because you can't get your Wii online (and I certainly sympathise with you if that is the case. It only took me about 2.75 years after first getting the Wii before I got it online!) or for whatever reason, get a friend to download the game into your console for you!

One of the most absorbing games you will ever play. It is well worth ANY price you pay for it. Heck, get it on PC if you have to!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Old handheld LCD games: a distant memory of my youth

Went to the post office yesterday and I signed for a package that contained the following Nintendo DS game:

No, this wasn't another game I purchased. On the contrary, this was a game that was SENT to me, free of charge, by Nintendo Australia, because I redeemed the Club Nintendo points that I had accumulated from the purchase of games like Mario Kart Wii, Super Smash Bros, Wii Fit and the like!

The Game & Watch Collection was the most expensive item in the small list of redeemable goodies and the best of the lot...who needs a Mario towel or a Wii remote stand or even a DS game pouch? At least this was a game that you could play!

Nintendo made its name in the 90s with those tiny handheld LCD games that you could fit in the palm of your hand like Donkey Kong, Octopus and Parachute. In some of the games, you could control Mr Game & Watch, this black silhouetted character that ran around saving babies that were flung out of burning buildings, among other wacky things!

Mr Game & Watch made a return to Super Smash Bros Brawl where you can unlock and use him as a character and he's pretty fun to use too!I certainly remember those LCD games that were all the rage in the 80s when I was a kid. While I did have some of the Nintendo ones, though I can't remember exactly which ones now, the ones that were really popular during my youth were the Casio series of LCD games.

I certainly remember owning Submarine Battle and I played my friends' Western Bar and Kung Fu; these three were the most popular games in the Casio series, especially Western Bar!

Compared to today's modern games, these three games (and all other LCD games for that matter) are extremely dated, but back in the day, these games were AWESOME. The hours I spent on Submarine Battle, trying to beat my high score! Wow. A nice trip down memory lane for me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Another comic book movie has been released on the big screen, so it’s time for another review!

This time around, it’s the first of at least two planned prequels to the X-Men movie franchise: X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Ever since Hugh Jackman graced the screens with his first major movie role as Wolverine in 1999’s X-Men, his star has kept on rising in Hollywood. Could it only have been a mere ten years since he made his big screen debut as arguably the most popular character in comic books today?

What a performance Hugh delivered. Not only did Jackman look exactly like what most fanboys thought Wolverine would look like (albeit an extremely taller version) in a movie version of the X-Men, he pulled off Wolverine’s angst, berserker rage and had a certain gravitas and gruff style about him: Jackman didn’t PLAY the role of Wolverine, he WAS Wolverine!

There was no doubting that Jackman was the star of X-Men the movie. Which is something considering the company he was in: Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan...but this unknown Aussie actor was THE breakout star of the movie?

X-Men Origins: Wolverine was certainly hyped up worldwide; with Jackman being the obvious star attraction from what were essentially three ensemble movies, surely he could do no wrong in a standalone movie!

The movie was hyped up more in Australia, what with Jackman being the hometown hero and most of the movie being shot in New South Wales; in fact, some of the actors appearing in the movie were Aussies who most people would find familiar, because they were recently on our TV screens in one of the most-watched productions of all time. But more on that later.

And there was even that whole thing where the movie was leaked onto the internet where people could download copies illegally and watch the movie weeks before it made its theatrical debut in cinemas. Yes, that certainly “stole” profits away from the creators of the movie, but more press, even the bad stuff, is good press, hey?

We’ve been treated to two other X movies since the first X-Men movie, with X2 being the best of the bunch and X3, while having heaps of cameos and some great battle scenes, best left forgotten from the X-franchise. X-Men Origins: Magneto will be out in the next year or so and who knows what other spin-off movies will emerge from the X-franchise. But first, the Wolverine standalone movie.

So, was the movie any good? Did it live up to all the hype? Let’s just say that, given the chance, I would have watched the version that was circulating on the internet, simply because I wouldn’t have needed to pay to watch this movie.

Once again, the obligatory spoiler warning.

I'll be revealing some plot points from the movie so if you haven't watched the movie or don't want to find out what happened, stop reading from here onwards!

It’s not that the movie was bad. It just wasn’t very good.

The script was not strong at all. Even if I could look at the movie from a non-fanboy’s perspective, the script was still pretty weak in places. There was quite a lot of action and some good action sequences, and quite a bit of dialogue that fleshed out the character and his supporting cast. But it seemed like the action and drama bits were just jammed together in a random mishmash and out came a script.

No doubting that this movie will do well at the box office regardless; it’s Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman after all! But surely it will also be one of those forgettable comic book movies. Certainly not a classic like X2, Spider-man 2 or Batman Begins; more in the vein of The Punisher and Daredevil and, dare I say it, Ang Lee’s Hulk. Ok, not quite as bad as Ang Lee’s Hulk.

As usual, I’ll review the good and the bad parts of the movie, in my opinion. First, the good.

The casting of characters was exactly like the recent Watchmen movie: spot on!

In recent comic book movies, they have fantastic eclectic casts where the actors chosen seem to embody the very best of the character, from looks, to portrayal of that character to all the little fine nuances that one would come to expect of that character.

We’ve seen that in Watchmen, the two latest Batman movies, Iron Man, and now X-Men Origins: Wolverine. A lot of thought was put into choosing the perfect actors to play the characters. A pat on the back for the casting crew!

Which leads directly to:

My favourite part of the movie is seeing Ryan Reynolds bring my favourite Marvel character to life on the big screen. What an inspired choice in choosing Reynolds, who has a knack for playing smart-alecky characters in his movies, to play the merc-with-a-mouth!

Sure, we see Wade Wilson BEFORE he’s hideously scarred due to his cancer, but in the short five minutes where he’s running off his mouth, he steals the show. It’s unfortunate that Deadpool doesn’t break the fourth wall as he so usually does in his comics, but hey...this IS his first big screen outing after all.

Deadpool seems even more of a badass than Wolverine is in this movie. Reynolds shows there are two sides to this character: the lippy merc who lives a carefree life and shows no fear, and the stone-cold psychotic killer. Bravo!

The major disappointment is that Deadpool is pretty much a bit player in the movie...well, the Deadpool at the start of the movie anyway, more on that later. I would have loved to see more of my favourite Marvel character in action on the big screen. Hell, just having him chat up a storm for half an hour without any other sort of action sequences and I would have been happy!

Finally we see Gambit in a movie! Where was he in the other three movies? Ok, sure, it wouldn’t make sense for him to be in the first movie. Perhaps it would have been premature for him to be in X2. But in X3 where there are so many cameos, they couldn’t squeeze Gambit in?

The wait for Gambit to finally appear on the big screen pays handsome dividends though. Taylor Kitsch is the perfect choice to play the raging Cajun. He certainly looks very much the part; suave, charming, but physically nimble and agile and ready to rumble at the drop of a hat.

Perhaps Kitsch’s southern Cajun drawl isn’t great, but he does try and he more than makes up for it by oozing “cool”. As expected, we first see Gambit at a poker table, showing off his card skills and tricks to the ladies (and other gamblers).

We see Gambit’s famed agility and fighting skills with his quarterstaff in a brief fight scene with Wolverine. And we also see his kinetic-charge powers in action, though his cards don’t explode like they do in the comics, but it makes perfect sense in the movie...the powers are kinetic based, not explosions anyway!

The one disappointment here, like Deadpool, is that Gambit doesn’t have a lot of screen time and you could just about get any other mutant-of-the-week and throw him in the plot in place of Gambit’s character. We also don’t see enough of Gambit’s kinetic-charge powers; the only things he throws during the movie are his playing cards, albeit a very cool sequence when we see him do that.

Liev Schreiber is great in anything he’s in, movie or TV program, and there’s no exception here. Just like Jackman is Wolverine, Schreiber IS Sabretooth! Though we never hear him being called that at all in the entire movie: he’s just known simply as Victor.

Schreiber bulked up for this role and he is an imposing and fearful figure. His Victor Creed has a fearsome snarl and he fights dirty. Victor has no compassion for human life at all and his relationship with his brother, Wolverine, is tenuous at best. Wolverine has to keep restraining Victor from giving into his blood lust and becoming the efficient killing machine that he is.

Thank goodness for Schreiber’s performance as he made me forget the atrocity that was Sabretooth in the first movie, played by the very stiff former pro wrestler Tyler Mane!

Great cameos
Such as the one from Professor Charles Xavier at the end of the movie, though he looks very feminine and looks like he’s wearing tons of make-up!

Professor X travels in his helicopter and he rescues the mutants captured by William Stryker at the end of the movie, thus heralding the birth of his X-Men with his first encounter with Cyclops. And what’s really awesome is that THIS Professor X still has the use of his legs and isn’t confined to a wheelchair!

Scott Summers and Emma Frost also make nice cameos in the movie. Scott has a “larger” role when he’s captured by Sabretooth and Stryker and we see him use his destructive optic blasts for the first time. We then see his qualities as the future X-Men leader when he guides his fellow captive mutants out of the Weapon Plus facility, though with a lot of help from Charles Xavier talking to him telepathically.

Emma Frost aka the White Queen also has a nice cameo where we see her changing her skin to diamond when the captive mutants are trying to escape. Wish they had chosen a more bimbo-blondish character to portray Emma Frost though as this one doesn’t look like her at all...perhaps my only gripe with the casting of the characters in this movie.

It was a really nice touch having Scott and Emma interact with each other as they try to escape. After all, these two form a relationship in the comics after Jean Grey dies for the umpteenth time. The two future leaders of the next generation of the X-Men, interacting with each other and then coming into contact with the X-Men’s founder, Professor X! Fanboy geekgasm all around.

Fred Dukes as the Blob...all I can say is HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!

A nod to Wolverine’s comic book origins
In this case, I’m referring to the 2001 Origin mini-series by Paul Jenkins and Andy Kubert, and the Weapon X saga by Barry Windsor-Smith that was featured in Marvel Comics Presents back in 1991.

We get to see Wolvie pop his bone claws for the very first time! And we also see the adamantium bonding process that made Wolvie pretty much indestructible.

We also see Team X in action for the very first time, which is a nice nod to the comics once again. The comic version only consisted of Wolverine, Sabretooth and Maverick (who is actually Agent Zero in the movie), but it makes sense for more characters to be part of the movie team.

William Stryker is a badass!

While I would have loved seeing Brian Cox reprise his role from X2, Danny Huston does a great job portraying a younger Stryker. This Stryker is a master manipulator, playing both sides and also playing his former Team X members against each other.

His evil machinations nearly come to fruition and it's revealed why he hates the mutant population so much, but is not above actually using them for his own sinister purposes. Not many people would come face to face with Wolvie and Sabretooth and just stare them down without blinking.

The opening sequence
After the origin, we see Victor and Logan fight together in the major American wars: the Civil War, World Wars I and II and the Vietnam war. These two have built a bond since they escaped from the Howlett household together in the 19th century and we see how their camaraderie changes oh-so-slightly, with Sabretooth slowly giving into his bloodlust and Wolvie trying to pull his brother away from the dark side.

Australian actor “cameos”
Two that I noticed: Asher Keddie, who plays a doctor assisting William Stryker with his Weapon Plus experiments, and Peter O’Brien who plays John Howlett, Wolverine’s supposed father.

Both actors were familiar to me because they are both in the Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities TV series that is currently showing on Australian free-to-air TV. Keddie plays the role of Victorian police officer Liz Cruickshank while O’Brien plays Sydney underworld figure, George Freeman.

I’m sure there were more Aussie actors in the movie since the movie was filmed in NSW!

Unfortunately, there was also a whole heap of bad. As mentioned earlier in this review, the script wasn't very strong and it wasn't a good mix of action sequences and character-building sequences at all. But I won't critique the plot too much, except for when it really gets my goat.

The main villain, Weapon XI

The "X" for Weapon X is the roman numeral for the number ten, as William Stryker so eloquently puts (a nice nod to Grant Morrison's "Weapon Plus" storyline from the New X-Men comics in the 00s) and so Weapon XI is actually Weapon 11.

Since the adamantium bonding experiment on Wolverine was a success, Stryker decides to experiment once more with the next incarnation of the Weapon Plus program and creates Weapon XI, who has a fusion of powers from some of the mutants that was captured by Stryker. Paper thin plot here!

Anyway, what really annoys me is the fact that Deadpool is Weapon XI! What the?!

There's a really nice scene where Stryker explains how Deadpool got his name, but it goes downhill from there. Basically Weapon XI/Deadpool has the teleporting powers of Wraith, the optic blasts of Cyclops, the healing powers of Sabretooth, and his twin katanas, now coated with adamantium, have been embedded into his arms a la Wolverine's claws. Weapon XI is a monster who has his lips sewn shut so we don't get the traditional Deadpool banter.

I don't like this final protagonist at all. Surely we didn't need a villain like this Frankenstein creature! Plus, it sort of kills off any hope of a Deadpool standalone movie. Now that Deadpool has all these extra powers and is seemingly killed at the end of the movie, even if he's brought back, how does one "remove" these powers? Boooooo...what were you thinking, scriptwriters!

Sabretooth wussing out

I think Sabretooth should have been Wolvie's final adversary. But he acts too much like a big brother for the entire movie; he's looking out for Logan, then he has this intense hatred for him (sibling rivalry perhaps!), then he wusses out and refuses to deliver the killing blow. And right at the end, he walks away (or rather, jumps away) without engaging Wolvie in a final fight!

These two are eternal enemies. While I don't like the fact that they are blood brothers in the movie (I think they are half brothers in the comics), it's certainly something that works for the movie. But this Sabretooth is a wuss when it comes to fighting Wolvie! Sure, he gets in a few good licks, but then becomes all chummy and acts like a proper big brother should; protecting his little brother. Yuck.

Maverick/Agent Zero

The David North character in the movie, Agent Zero, is nothing like the character in the comics. Which is alright...but surely you would have thought that they would at the very least pay some homage to the original character, who was a hero, not a villain.

Agent Zero is a sharpshooting mercernary in the movie and his powers seem to be deadeye-dick accuracy a la Bullseye from the Daredevil comics and movie and increased speed and agility. So not like the Maverick from the comics who has the power to absorb kinetic energy generated by impact without any harm to himself.
Sure, this is a power that's kinda hard to "show off" in the movie without it coming off as him being some sort of invulnerable mutant. But really, if they wanted a character to be an evil protagonist who's loyal to Styker, surely they could have chosen other mutants from Marvel's pantheon of characters.

Wolverine's more "human" moments

Ugh. I wanted to see Wolvie unleashing his berserker rage (which we don't really get to see at all in the movie), not his tender, touching side!

I understand that they needed to build up between Logan and Silver Fox so that when she is "killed", he will seek his revenge on Sabretooth. But there was no necessity for that whole "moon" story in that intimate scene between the two. Lynn Collins as Silver Fox though...roooowr! What a hottie.

And who really wants to see Wolvie working as a lumberjack? Yeah, that builds up the backstory, but the lumberjack job scenes took too long. I don't really want to see or know about Wolvie interacting with his job buddies making fun of him for kissing Silver Fox in full view of them!

There's also a nice tender "Ma and Pa Kent" moment when Wolvie, freshly escaped from the Weapon Plus facility, comes across this elderly couple who helps him get back on his feet. Yeah, if I wanted to watch Wolvie being mollycoddled by two old folks, I'd go watch old episodes of Smallville. Thankfully, "Ma and Pa Kent" are killed after taking up about 15 minutes of screen time.

While the boxing match between Logan and the Blob was extremely funny, it made no sense whatsoever. Why would Logan even willingly take part in a boxing match against the Blob so that he can win and extract information from Fred Dukes? Wouldn't he just pop his claws and threaten the hell out of the Blob until he reveals that secret information?

So so out of character. Speaking of which...

Wolverine acting out of character

Logan goes to fight Stryker and Sabretooth and after a simple conversation where they discuss Silver Fox's staged death and how everything was just meant to get Wolvie to volunteer for the adamantium process, Wolvie decides to walk away without a fight?

What the?! Sure, he comes back after he hears Silver Fox's screams where Sabretooth is about to gut her, but the fact that he walks away in the first place just left a really bad taste in my mouth.

The fact that they would just stand around to have a conversation is just plain silly as well. Oh, I've come here to kill you for ruining my life but I'll just stand here and listen to you reveal your evil master plan first and then decide not to kill you anyway because I've changed my mind. Ugh.

No Magneto!

Just a small nitpick, but I think they've missed out on a great opportunity to introduce the next X-Men Origins flick based on Magneto.

It would have been so apt and perfect if there was a Magneto cameo, notable in the scene where Professor X shows up to rescue the other mutants. Magneto and Professor X were friends after all, and since Professor X still has the use of his legs in this movie, that means that they haven't had their falling out yet and Magnus hasn't yet crippled Charles intentionally.

Ah well.

The two extra scenes during and after the end credits

I wish they had done more with these extra scenes. I remembering watching an interview with Hugh Jackman where he urges the audience to stay until the credits have ended because fans would be treated to more footage. So here I thought it was going to be GOOD footage.

Not long after the credits have started rolling, we see the Army picking up William Stryker, wanted for murder. Pfah, how boring. Why didn't you show perhaps the first generation of mutants taught by Professor X instead? Or what happens to Gambit or Sabretooth after the movie? Or even Wolvie making the trek up to Canada up to the point where we first see him in the first X-Men movie fighting in a cage match?

The last scene showed Wolvie in Japan, drinking to try and remember his life as his memories were scrambled after being shot in the head twice with adamantium bullets by Stryker.

I would certainly have preferred to see that same scene in a bar where Wolvie is drinking, but not in Japan, rather, when he's in the Canadian bar and Rogue approaches him for the first time. It would have been a perfect lead-in to the X-Men movie.

But they showed this instead. Wolvie has a huge backstory in the comics based in Japan...maybe this is a lead-in to a possible Origins sequel for him? Here's hoping!

All in all, a good movie, but not great. Certainly not one of my favourites, though I'd be happy to keep watching footage of Deadpool!

Not quite sure if they'll do a Deadpool movie now, with the events of this movie transpiring the way it has. I'll be happy if they still do it though, and I'll settle for a Gambit standalone movie as well.

And a Liev Schreiber standalone Sabretooth movie would be the icing on the cake.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Watchmen Easter Eggs

I spent quite a bit of time trying to find the Easter eggs crammed into the Watchmen movie...heck, I try and do that for all the comic book movies I watched!

While I got some of the more obvious ones like references to The Black Freighter comic book that is an integral part of the graphic novel, the Village People appearing at the front of Studio 54, just behind Ozymandias, and the Comedian being responsible for Kennedy's assassination, there was quite a lot of stuff that I missed.

Here are two sites that highlight some of the Easter eggs from the Watchmen movie that you might have missed.

The first one is absolutely brilliant, with stills from the movie and picture comparisons!

Easter Eggs (And Missing Parts) In Watchmen's Titles

The second one is more of just a regular article, but it's still pretty good:

'Watchmen' Easter Eggs: Our Favorite Blink-And-You'll-Miss-'Em Moments


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Review: Watchmen: The Movie

So we ended up watching the big screen adaptation of Watchmen yesterday at the cinema. As stated in the previous blog entry, I was extremely excited to see Alan Moore’s seminal and memorable characters make the jump from the four-colour medium of comics to the big screen.

Expectations, not just from me, but from the comic book community, were undoubtedly huge. Alan Moore once called Watchmen “unfilmable”. Could Zack Snyder, the director who made Frank Miller’s “300” a critical and commercial success, defy the odds once again by making Watchmen THE most acclaimed comic book movie of all-time, just like the graphic novel was heralded as the “Citizen Kane” of comic books?

Spoiler warning: From this point on, I will be reviewing the movie and will be examining major plot points, discussing minute details of the comic and the movie as well as revealing the twists. If you haven’t yet read the Watchmen graphic novel or watched the movie and don’t want it spoiled for you, STOP READING THIS BLOG ENTRY NOW.

Still reading? Good. Let’s talk about the Watchmen movie then.

I came out of the cinema feeling pretty shallow and empty. Watchmen was a good 160 minutes including the credits, making it probably the longest comic book movie, in terms of movie screening length, ever made.

Of course, it is naïve to begin to think that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ magnum opus could be squeezed into a 2 hour movie, the average length of modern comic book movies. But the Watchmen movie seemed to go on an extra 30 minutes too long, even though I acknowledge that any shorter and you’d lose major plot points from the graphic novel.

It’s not that I didn’t like the movie. I did, for most parts. But the last third of the movie was a let-down, and it seemed to be dragging on needlessly. Was this because the end of the movie was poorly scripted? Was it because they had rushed the big reveal, the big ending, which was significantly changed from the graphic novel?

Or was it because the build-up towards the climax of the movie was extremely fantastic that when it was revealed that Adrian Veidt was the villain, the way the reveals came about just utterly destroyed what had come before?

I’m not quite sure. As I said, I was excited for most of the movie, especially the first half, but the final third of the movie just spoiled it for me, and since the last part of the movie is usually the one that you remember a movie for, it kind of soured the entire movie for me.

Maybe my expectations were too high, but as I said, by and large, my expectations were met for most of the movie. I think it was very true to the graphic novel for most parts, up until perhaps the scene where Rorschach was freed from Sing Sing and then it all went downhill from there.

But I’m being too general. Let’s examine parts of the movie that I liked and parts that I didn’t like.

The opening sequence was breathtaking. This was where it was obvious that a movie could do so much to portray the Comedian’s death than the graphic novel could. The graphic novel starts with the Comedian having already been killed by being beaten up and thrown out of his room of a very very tall building.

In the movie, we see the Comedian settling down to watch a TV program, which describes the escalation of potential nuclear war between America and the USSR. All of a sudden, someone breaks into his room and for the next three minutes, we see the vicious one-sided fight between the Comedian, an aging 67 year old man, and his assailant who not only brutally assaults the Comedian, but makes it look oh so easy.

While the Comedian is being beaten to a pulp, we’re being treated to Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” playing on the TV in the background, from the advertisement of Adrian Veidt’s Nostalgia perfume. A sign of foreshadowing perhaps? Of course, the Nostalgia ad being part of Veidt Enterprises is never really mentioned, though that’s a neat Easter egg for those who had read the novel. Perhaps a bit camp, fighting to that background music but I’m sure it was deliberately filmed that way.

This fight sequence is never shown in great detail in the graphic novel, being just a simple flashback sequence of the Comedian getting his butt kicked, so it’s refreshing to see the fight in all its gory detail. The Comedian gets thrown through the plate glass windows of his apartment and plunges to his death…cue the opening title credits sequence!

This opening credits sequence was also brilliant, with a fantastic song playing in the background. We are introduced to the Minutemen of the 30s/40s, showing how they got together as a superteam and nearly each members’ fall from grace. Alan Moore fleshes out almost all of the Minutemen’s backstory in the graphic novel via “extra features” outside the main story, such as Hollis Mason’s (the original Nite Owl) biography, Under the Hood, and of course, it’s impossible to go through each individual character’s backstory in the movie, so the opening sequence does a great job of quickly showing, in 10 second segments, what happened to each character.

After the introduction of the original Nite Owl beating up a bank robber, we see the Silk Spectre being introduced to the press, with the policemen standing on either side of her trying to glance down to catch a glimpse of her boobs. We then see the formation of the Minutemen and the reveal that Silhouette is a lesbian by snogging a nurse after Japan surrenders at the close of World War 2.

We then see the death of Dollar Bill when he gets shot after getting his cape caught in a revolving door. We also see Mothman being committed to an asylum. Silhouette and her lover have been murdered in a hotel room with the words “Lesbian whores” scrawled on the wall. The Minutemen’s fall from grace lead to the formation of the second generation of heroes including the main protagonists in the movie. In the graphic novel, this second generation of heroes was known as the Crimebusters, though we learn later on during the movie that they called themselves “Watchmen”.

The next few segments in the opening credits sequence show how each Watchman is ensconced in real life events happening in America in the 60s and 70s. John F Kennedy shakes hands with Dr Manhattan on the lawn for the White House. In the next segment, we see John F Kennedy’s head snap back and then forwards in that famous assassination. The camera pans to the right where we see the Comedian was the assassin! Neil Armstrong lands on the moon and turns around, only for us to see the reflection of the Dr Manhattan already standing on the moon.

Andy Warhol is in an art gallery, unveiling his latest art of Nite Owl II, while Ozymandias is posing for photographs outside Studio 54; just standing behind Ozymandias is the Village People! We are also introduced to Rorschach who doesn’t appear on-screen, but has left behind his calling card after tying two criminals to a lightpost.

The 70s sequence shows the hippie movement where a hippie girl puts a flower in the barrel of a gun that’s pointed directly at her; soon, all of the hippies get shot. President Nixon gets re-elected for a third term, changing the course of history in the Watchmen world, and we also see the amassing of nuclear arsenals by Fidel Castro and his Russian counterpart.

It is a superb credit sequence that sets the tone for what has passed before in the Watchmen world. It does a great job considering there is so much happening in the graphic novel and to be able to distil the main plot points and cram it into a brilliant and stunning visual opening sequence is just magnificent.

The main story starts off exactly the same way the comic book does, focusing in on the smiley face pin that the Comedian wears. The camera pulls back upwards towards the window of the Comedian’s apartment where Detective Fine and his partner wonder who would want to kill a 67 year old man.

What I really love about the first half of the movie is that scenes are filmed and duplicated almost exactly the way they were illustrated in the comics. From Rorschach’s breaking into Nite Owl’s apartment and then storming out; to the flashback sequences showing each individual character’s involvement with the Comedian; to the retelling of Dr Manhattan’s past; to Rorschach’s capture and his subsequent rescue by Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II…the scenes from the graphic novel are lovingly and carefully reproduced in the movie. Way too many scenes to go through individually.

Which leads directly into the dialogue. While it’s impossible to expect all the dialogue from the graphic novel to be replicated in the movie, the script does take the most memorable lines from the graphic novel and either transposes them directly, or are largely intact, just changing a few words here and there. The most memorable quotes are:

“Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire thread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me, I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their wasists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout ‘Save us!’, and I’ll look down and whisper ‘No’.” – Rorschach’s first line of dialogue from both the movie and graphic novel

“Hurm.” – Rorschach

“You were a better Nite Owl than I ever was.”
“Hollis, we both know that’s bullshit.”
“Hey, watch with the language! This is the left hook that floored Captain Axis, remember?”
- exchange between the original Nite Owl, Hollis Mason, and his successor, Daniel Dreiberg

“An ordinary burglar? Kill the Comedian? Ridiculous.” – Rorschach

“Um. Don’t you think that’s maybe a little paranoid?”
“That’s what they’re saying about me now? That I’m paranoid”
- exchange between Nite Owl and Rorschach

“Yes. I remember. Used to come here often. Back when we were partners.”
“Yeah, those were great times, Rorschach. Whatever happened to them?”
“You quit.”
- exchange between Rorschach and Nite Owl

“Meeting with Dreiberg left bad taste in mouth. A flabby failure who sits whimpering in his basement. Why are so few of us left active, health, and without personality disorders? Only two names remaining on my list. Both share private quarters at Rockefeller Military Research Centre. I shall go to them. I shall go and tell the indestructible man that someone plans to murder him.” – Rorschach

And all that is just from the first issue! Rorschach does have all the best and most quotable lines. I can just see the entire movie having heaps of quotable lines, just like in Army of Darkness.

There are too many memorable lines of dialogue in the movie that are taken straight out from the graphic novel, but others include the Pagliacci joke (which no one seemed to get in the movie, I was the only one laughing!), Rorschach’s exchange with Big Figure in Sing Sing prison, Rorschach’s memorable “I’m not locked up in here with you, you’re locked up in here with me!” line, the “The superman exists, and he’s American” line, Dr Manhattan’s the miracle of turning oxygen into gold line, and Rorschach’s “Never compromise, not even in the face or Armageddon” line.

There are plenty of Easter eggs throughout the movie that probably get lost on all those who haven’t read the novel before. When meeting Adrian Veidt for the first time, we see the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in the background, leaving no doubt that while this is an alternate reality from the one we know, the characters are all in New York. We see Mason’s auto repair shop, the Gunga Diner, the offices of the New Frontiersman, a right wing publication that Rorschach picks up daily.

Part of the fun of the movie, for me at least, was trying to spot as many Easter eggs as possible, things that were strictly in the background of the movie, but made up the big picture in the graphic novel. Graffiti of “Who Watches the Watchmen?” on walls, cameos of the newsvendor, the kid who sits at the newsstand reading the comic book, “The Black Freighter”, the lesbian taxi driver Joey, and a poster of “The Black Freighter” on the newsstand. They even reproduce the “War?” headline on the front page of a newspaper! I think I’m going to have to get a copy of the DVD when it’s released and play each scene back slowly to see if I can catch all the Easter eggs!

We even hear Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”, which is referenced in Hollis Mason’s Under the Hood, when there is this flashback sequence of Dr Manhattan intervening in the Vietnam War. When you hear “Ride of the Valkyries” blaring over the speakers and see the imposing 40 foot tall half naked body of Dr Manhattan walking over the fields of Saigon, incinerating the Viet Cong soldiers, one gets a chill of excitement running through one’s body.

Which leads directly to the music; it is an absolutely brilliant and breathtaking soundtrack. The licensed songs fit the scenes perfectly: when Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk meet for dinner, Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” play in the background. When the Comedian gets buried in the cemetery, we hear Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”. We even hear the extremely cheesy “Hallelujah” when Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II make love for the first time in Nite Owl’s ship, Archie (short for “Archimedes”, Merlin’s pet owl, as Nite Owl tells us himself in a later scene).

I can’t wait for the soundtrack to get released because I’m sure I’ll be getting it!

There’s quite a bit of deliberate campy humour in the movie as well, which fits with the deliberate humour from the graphic novel. When Nite Owl and Rorschach ask when Ozymandias plans to execute his evil “mad scientist” plans, Ozymandias remarks that he’s not some “comic book villain” and he did it 35 minutes ago (in the novel Ozzy remarks that he’s not a “republic serial villain” instead). When Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II spring Rorschach from prison, Rorschach remarks that he needs to first use the men’s bathroom before they can leave (though of course, Rorschach is trying to get his hands on Little Figure).

We also see the awkwardness when Dan and Laurie try having sex for the first time, with Dan not being able to…uhm…perform. Actually, that is probably a negative of the movie because Dan and Laurie have this really weird relationship in the graphic novel where it’s a balance between Dan’s impotence and Laurie’s fetishes. It’s never really dealt with in the movie at all, making very scant reference to Dan’s impotence.

When Dan and Laurie finally do have sex in Archie, when close to…uh…finishing…Laurie accidentally hits the flamethrower button and a large burst of flames shoot out from Archie’s…uh…mouth. A sexual innuendo if there ever was one! These moments of campness make it a bit hard to interpret the movie. From the graphic novel, we know that it’s deliberate, but it doesn’t really translate well onto screen. For such a dark movie, there sure must have been a few movie-goers thinking to themselves, “What the hell? Why is there an attempt of humour here?”

There are many cameos in the movie from famous figures in history to show the era which the movie takes place in. The aforementioned cameos in the opening credits title sequence of John F Kennedy, Neil Armstrong (though one doesn’t see his face behind his spacesuit helmet), Andy Warhol, the Village People, Fidel Castro, and I believe even Mick Jagger, who I didn’t catch but who’s name is in the final credits!

There are also cameos in the movie itself to show that it’s 1985, with people such as Lee Iacocca and Ted Koppel making an appearance. Of course, Richard Nixon plays an important role in the movie as the President of the United States. “Tricky Dick” as Rorschach calls him, has the unenviable task of deciding whether to empty out America’s nuclear arsenal in a pre-emptive strike against the Russians. While the actor playing Richard Nixon in the movie does look and sound like the real Nixon, it’s just a shame that they couldn’t get Frank Langella, who played the disgraced President in the Oscar nominated “Frost/Nixon” to reprise his role! That would have been icing on the cake.

I’ve been avoiding this topic for a while, but let’s get to the casting of the actors. While there are no real big-name or A-level celebrities among the actors chosen to play the roles of the various Watchmen, the casting was absolutely spot on…whoever did the casting needs a huge pay rise for choosing the best actors to reprise their respective roles in the movie!

Billy Crudup is probably the most well known actor out of the main cast of actors and he does a fine job of playing the emotionless Dr Manhattan. One does wonder whether it is Crudup’s “member” we see in those scenes where Dr Manhattan is completely nude. Crudup’s Dr Manhattan is unnervingly devoid of any sentiment and plays the part perfectly…you will believe that a god can walk this earth!

The casting of Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach is a masterpiece. It will be an utter shock to me if I ever hear that anyone who’s watched the movie isn’t convinced or blown away by Haley’s performance. Rorschach is a misfit, an outcast and a sociopath and Haley delivers Rorschach’s psychotic lines as if he believes every single word that he says.

While Haley is brilliant with the mask on, his performance is out of this world when the mask comes off. From the little changes of facial expression to his snarling voice when he threatens his fellow inmates, this is one character you never EVER want to get on the wrong side of.

While on the topic of psychopaths, I was a bit disappointed when I found out Bruce Campbell wasn’t chosen as the Comedian (even though he was never in the running! I’m just a big Bruce Campbell fan), Jeffrey Dean Morgan played the part with all guns a-blazing. Morgan is utterly believable as a grade A asshole who has no sympathy for his fellow man and takes great pleasure in causing as much wanton destruction as humanly possible. He shows a disdain for women and loves the fact that he can cause as much carnage as he wants…and no one can lift a finger to do anything about it because he’s being paid by the government to do so! It’s just a shame that the Comedian has limited screen time, just like in the graphic novel.

Patrick Wilson, when wearing those goofy plastic spectacles, is a dead ringer for Dan Dreiberg. He is every bit as insecure as the character he plays and always second guesses himself, not knowing whether what he’s doing is the right thing to do. All of Wilson’s best scenes are when he’s playing Dreiberg and out of the costume; when he’s playing the part of this bumbling fool who doesn’t know how to reveal his feelings for Laurie Juspeczyk.

Matthew Goode is sparkling as villain Ozymandias, who is cocky, self assured is completely convinced that everything he does, all his acts of evil, is for the good of mankind. There is an evilness lurking behind the façade of his good looks and you truly believe that the smartest man on the earth could kill you with little effort if he put his mind to it.

Not quite sure what to think of Malin Akerman, who does a great job of playing Silk Spectre II, but seems to be relegated to a minor role behind all the testosterone-laden male protagonists. While she does play a major role in the graphic novel, she seems to play a bit part in the movie, with her greatest contribution (other than the gratuitous sex scenes with Dan and Dr Manhattan) convincing Dr Manhattan to save the world…by simply crying. She fits her spandex/latex costume really well though; it must be hard to move around in that costume, let alone do all those fighting scenes in it!

My favourite characters in the movie are, in this order, Rorschach, Dan Dreiberg (not Nite Owl, but his alter ego) and the Comedian. Pretty much exactly like the graphic novel!

Those are the good bits out of the way, unfortunately, like I said at the start of this review, a long long time ago, the good bits aren’t enough to save the movie, just the last third of the movie made it such that this movie will NOT be the most acclaimed comic book movie of all time.

The worst part of the movie in my opinion is the different ending from the graphic novel. In Watchmen, Ozymandias engineers the death of millions of people to save billions from nuclear holocaust. While this is the same in the movie, there is one single, major difference.

In the comic book, Ozymandias gets a team of people to DNA-engineer a lifeform, designed to look like an alien, which is teleported to the heart of New York City. The alien self destructs and kills millions, with the psychic resonations killing millions more, forcing the Americans and Russians, already on the brink of engaging in nuclear war, to declare an alliance against the would-be alien invaders, resulting in world peace.

In the movie, Ozymandias and Dr Manhattan work on solving the world’s energy crisis where Dr Manhattan inadvertently creates energy “modules” that are based on his own powers and sends them to Ozymandias’ Antartica base, Karnak, so that Ozzy’s scientists can research and explore these modules in greater detail.

Ozymandias teleports these modules to major cities across the world like Los Angeles, London, Beijing and of course, New York City, and triggers a self-destruct mechanism which kills millions caught up in the blast. As these modules were based on Dr Manhattan’s powers, it is made to look that Dr Manhattan has declared war on the world.

If you take the movie ending and dissect it, it is a sound and plausible alternative from the graphic novel ending. After all, it achieves the same ends where something catastrophic happens that forces the Americans and Russians to call for a ceasefire resulting in world peace. I’m not convinced though.

To have pretty much the entire movie follow the events in the graphic novel and then change the ending completely is just…sacrilege. Perhaps I’m just an ornery comic book fan who wants stuff to be EXACTLY the way it is in the graphic novel.

I acknowledge that Alan Moore’s original idea of having that alien lifeform ending is a bit kitsch and would be really difficult to incorporate into the movie. After all, there was this whole backstory in the graphic novel of a whole team of people (psychics, artists, writers, etc) being relocated to a deserted island who had a hand in the creation of the alien lifeform. This involved writer Max Shea’s pirate comic “The Black Freighter” and there were many panels in the comic devoted to that…of course, that had to be abandoned from the movie, so it made more sense to have a completely different ending since one couldn’t explore that same backstory in the movie without adding minutes to the movie.

But I would still have loved to see it so that it remained true to the graphic novel. Why stay 90% true to the graphic novel but have 10% completely different? I wonder what Alan Moore would say when he finds out that his most seminal work has been altered. He already hates Hollywood but this would cause him to hate it even more I’m sure.

That last third of the movie was a real let down as well, after the first part was so true and faithful and built everything up. But like a house of cards, all it takes is for one badly placed card and everything falls apart.

The movie sort of went downhill after Rorschach was freed from Sing Sing. The next few scenes all went by very quickly and it seemed as if the movie was “forced” to end quickly. Laurie’s time with Dr Manhattan on Mars was fairly short, though I suppose I don’t think the audience could have sat around for TOO long while Dr Manhattan marvelled at Olympus Mons or Valles Marineris. Even the big reveal by Ozymandias seemed…campy.

The reveal of Ozymandias’ plot just went on too quickly…I only know what was going on because I had read the graphic novel! I can just imagine how head-spinning it would be for anyone who hadn’t read the source material, because it just went very quickly from Ozzy’s killing of the Comedian, to his plot to remove Dr Manhattan from the playing field, to the framing of Rorschach and to the attack on his persona which was faked to throw Rorschach off his real scheme.

There’s nothing really specific, other than the changed ending, that I would attest to the last third of the movie spoiling it for me. I just can’t put a finger on what went wrong…it’s just a combination of different things that happened that sort of soured the movie for me. I will fondly remember the movie for the first two-thirds, but not the last.

Though I’m sure a lot of people, especially those who had never read the source material, would disagree with me, I found there was too many unnecessary things that were “highlighted” in the movie. There was too much unnecessary violence, too much unnecessary nudity and the sex scenes went on too long!

I full expected to see nudity in the movie, especially full frontal nudity of Dr Manhattan since it was certainly brought to the forefront in the graphic novel. In fact, when we first see Dr Manhattan’s “member” in the movie, there was a loud gasp among viewers in the audience. For shock value, that was unbelievable. But then they showed it over and over and over again to the point where there was no real reason why they were exposing Dr Manhattan’s member, it just seemed extremely unnecessary and gratuitous.

Speaking of gratuitous, did we really need to see an extended sex scene between Dan and Laurie with “Hallelujah” playing in the background? Sure, Malin Akerman has a nice body and I suppose they wanted that whole sexual innuendo thing of Archie spewing out fire, but I personally feel like there was no necessity to drag it out that long.

These guys are superheroes, yes, but apart from Rorschach, who is a sociopath who breaks people’s fingers and throw them down elevator shafts, and the Comedian, who kills for fun, none of the other characters in the graphic novel I would classify as vigilantes who go around hurting people unnecessarily.

And yet we see Dr Manhattan disintegrate a whole bunch of crooks in a bar (we sort of see that same scene in the graphic novel, but nowhere close to being as violent or gruesome!) and their entrails hang off from off the ceiling. We also see Dr Manhattan obliterating the Viet Cong with “Ride of the Valkyries” playing in the background, but I guess that’s war…plus it added some campy humour to that scene!

In the very first scene we see Dan and Laurie take on a bunch of muggers, Dan breaks a mugger’s arm…with the bone piercing the skin and blood spurting forth. Laurie then kicks a mugger in the shin, breaking it too with his lower leg sticking out the wrong way! Really, is there any necessity to show this at all? Yes, some people find it cool, but what is the purpose of showing those ultra violent scenes? Dan and Laurie aren’t vigilantes! They aren’t sociopaths!

We also see Rorschach use a chopper to cleave a child murderer’s head in half…you could sense that the audience was cringing every time Rorschach pulled the chopper from out of the murderer’s head and “threw” it back in again. And the scene where Larry is blocking the entrance to Rorschach’s cell; Big Figure orders his other goon, Michael, to cut off Larry’s arms. Michael does so…and we literally see Larry’s arms being cut off with an electric saw. Campy and funny, yes, but once again, unnecessary violence we don’t really need to see.

The reveal of the Comedian as Laurie’s father was an almost non-entity as well! In the comic, the reveal is built up slowly and gradually with all the clues being there for us to put everything together on our own. When it came to the final reveal, readers were left to work it out themselves and they would know exactly that the Comedian sired Laurie even before it was actually put in print. But in the movie, this was relegated to perhaps two or three scenes where Laurie’s mother, the original Silk Spectre, was arguing with her husband, Laurence Schexnayder, about the Comedian.

The audience doesn’t get a chance to put the clues together as there is a mention of the Comedian raping Silk Spectre I and about them having sex just the one time…and then Dr Manhattan reveals that the Comedian is Laurie’s real father. But the reveal has no impact whatsoever…it’s as if they’ve just decided to lampoon the reveal of Darth Vader’s fatherhood of Luke Skywalker in the Empire Strikes Back!

Of course, in the graphic novel, this reveal has much more significance. We’re shown very early on that Laurie hates the Comedian for his attempted rape on her mother. There is mention of this on one occasion in the movie but it was never brought up again. While the graphic novel showed how much Laurie hated pretty much everything in the superhero community, movie Laurie didn’t have that anger or pathos. So when it’s revealed that the Comedian is Laurie’s father, it just feels flat. I’m sure there would be audience members going: “Really? Who cares? What’s this got to do with the movie?”

Hollis Mason doesn’t die in the movie…in fact, he’s not featured at all apart from the first act of the movie when he’s catching up with Dan for drinks. He dies in the graphic novel, adding that extra level of angst in Dan, going into the final few chapters. Once again, I understand that to cram all this extra detail in the movie would just make it drag on for an extra few hours, so it’s probably good that they didn’t add this in.

I really disliked the fact that the movie script made Janey Slater out to be a villain. She confronts Dr Manhattan at the TV studio in the movie, pulling off a wig to show that she has acquired cancer from him. No sign of her doing this in the graphic novel though. It is also revealed in the movie that it was Janey Slater who hired Victor Chess, the man who made the attempt on the life of Adrian Veidt. Even though Adrian was the ultimate orchestrator, it painted Janey in the light of a villain, when she is anything but. Yes, Janey Slater was bitter in the graphic novel, but not to the point where she wanted to take revenge on Dr Manhattan, as portrayed in the movie.

There are some issues in the graphic novel that either don’t feature in the movie or just can’t be replicated on the big screen…remember Alan Moore saying that the comic was inherently “unfilmable”? There were some scenes of the “Fearful Symmetry” chapter where we see the neon lights of a seedy motel reflected in a puddle, but that’s about all we got in the movie, referencing the aforementioned famous chapter in Watchmen.

There are political nuances in the graphic novel as well as the examination of the super hero genre that wasn’t featured in the movie. The examination/commentary about homosexuality doesn’t make it to the movie either. What was most disappointing though, is there was scant reference to Dan Dreiberg’s impotence and Laurie Juspeczyk’s fetishes and trying to live up to her mother’s expectations.

Ozymandias’ costume is terrible. It looks as if it were taken out of one of Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies! His genetically altered sabertooth tiger, Bubastis, makes a brief appearance in the movie as well, though probably just to appease fans, but it had absolutely no bearing or consequence in the movie at all…they might as well have done without Bubastis!

No Max Shea’s “The Black Freighter” and we because there was only a cameo for the newsvendor, we don’t get to see the funny exchange between him and Rorschach’s doomsayer-with-a-the-world-is-ending picket sign; in the comics, Rorschach tells the newsvendor that the world would definitely be ending that day but also asks the newsvendor to make sure he keeps his regular copy of The New Frontiersman tomorrow.

Speaking of the doomsayer picket sign character, we see him in certain sequences during the movie, but it’s just not obvious that it’s Rorschach at all. Plus, we never really get to see a proper close-up of doomsayer-guy’s face, so when Rorschach’s mask is pulled off in the movie, if you haven’t read the graphic novel, it’s unlikely you’d recognise who that was. We see doomsayer guy’s face often in the graphic novel so when the mask finally comes off Rorschach’s face, we instantly go: “I can’t believe Rorschach is that hobo going around proclaiming that Armageddon is at hand!”

Just a nitpick: when Ozymandias, the Comedian, Dr Manhattan, Nite Owl and Rorschach come together to form their supergroup in the movie (no Captain Metropolis either!), they actually call their group “Watchmen”. The group was never formed in the graphic novel and even when they were discussing the formation of the group, Captain Metropolis suggested that they be called “Crimebusters”.

I guess the movie script went with the group being called “Watchmen” so as to add some continuity in why the movie was called “Watchmen”.

Of course, that isn’t the reason why Alan Moore named the series “Watchmen”.

But I’ll stop here as this has been one unbelievably lengthy review of the movie compared to the source material. It has taken me over three hours to craft this review and if you’ve read the entire review and got to the end, I congratulate you.

I do like the Watchmen movie. I think it has gravitas; it’s not as good as it could have been, but it is faithful to the graphic novel, up to a certain point at least.

I just can’t take away the glaring differences between the graphic novel and the movie’s ending and the omission of some of the material from the graphic novel and plot points that added to the overall story. The movie is good, but it’s not great.

Watchmen is truly the most acclaimed graphic novel in the history of comics and still remains one of my favourite comics of all time. The number of times I’ve read the series from cover to cover! The movie though? Not quite the most acclaimed comic book movie of all time.

However, it did take a few readings of the graphic novel to get most of the nuances and appreciate what a masterpiece it was. Perhaps it’s the same with the movie where you need repeated viewings? Only time will tell on that one.