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The following is a very candid interview with University of Minnesota physics professor, and Watchmen movie science consultant, Jim Kakalios. We’ve already given you a look into Jim's Comic-Con panel, so now, here’s a brief conversation we had right after his presentation:

The one thing that just stuck out at me — because somebody on my Web site mentioned it — is, they saw the trailer and they watched the scene where Osterman gets pulled apart. They got close up on the HD version, and on the left and right it reads “Intrinsic Field Generator A” and “Intrinsic Field Generator B.” They said, “Somebody on that set messed up, because it’s not an intrinsic field generator, it’s an intrinsic field subtractor — and there would just be one of them.

Kakalios: Right. Except that in some sense it’s kind of technobabble anyway. But one way, presumably, that they were trying to probe this was to generate intrinsic fields that would then create destructive interference with the internal… Now this is total bullshit, you understand, that I’m telling you here.


Well, I guess I’m wondering if you told them to put those signs up…

Kakalios: No. That was not me.

So, now you’re just going to explain how it could work?

Kakalios: My job is to go in with Marvel Comics No-prizes and somehow find a way to explain why it’s not a glitch.

Exactly! Well that would be good enough too. My friend would love to hear that.

Kakalios: What you need to do is generate… I can’t believe I came up with that… [chuckling] generate an intrinsic field which is out of phase with the actual intrinsic field and that would have the effect of removing the internal field. It’s like those sound isolation things…

Oh! You’re right. They generate white noise.

Kakalios: Well, it picks up the noise in the room and it generates sound that is out of phase and destructively interferes and it creates a sound-free environment.

Therefore removing the sound, so to speak…

Kakalios: Yes, but they are also creating sound to remove the sound.

A ha. Interesting.

Kakalios: Wow! [laughing] I’m gonna use that.

That’s why they pay you the big bucks.

Kakalios: [Chuckling] They don’t pay me the big bucks. It was just for fun. I’m just as much a fan of this as you guys. And I was vibrating like a gong when I…

So you had read Watchmen?

Kakalios: Oh yeah. And that was the thing. The National Academy of Sciences, when they got this request from Warner Bros., it was like, “Who are we going to ask that could talk to them about science but would know the comic material, and know the grounding of it, the respect for it?” And then my name popped up and they said, “Oh! Would you be interested?” And my wife said, “Are they paying you?” “No. But it’s Watchmen!” [chuckling]

So what’d they do, did they fly you to California?

Kakalios: Well, actually to Vancouver.

So you did get to visit the set?

Kakalios: Oh, no, no, I went to the set. I actually was in the Owlship when it was a wooden frame.

Oh, cool.

Kakalios: Yeah, it was very cool. And the people there were wonderful. You visited also, I know from your site. Everywhere were copies of the book. And Zack Snyder showed me those books that he’s now…This is not privileged information anymore, those art books where he had every shot and he had the clippings next to it, from the panel, or other artwork, clippings from magazines or other things at the time. That’s why I told my friend that he put it on his blog Pharyngula. I said, it’s going to be very accurate and it’s going to be excellent. Because you just had a sense. I mean who knows what’s going to happen and all. But especially after seeing this clip. And worse case scenario we’ll have to wait for the directors cut DVD that Warner Bros. forced him to trim. I didn’t realize that having Osterman knock over those milk bottles, from the Coney Island, the dream sequence during the atomic bomb. It’s going to be like Prego spaghetti sauce — “It’s in there.”

[Laughs] Exactly. There’s a lot of good stuff. So you went out to the set — and tell me what it was like doing the consulting? Did Alex McDowell in the art department call you in a room, take a lot of notes?

Kakalios: What they did actually, they said, “We don’t know. It might be actually in the special features.” So they actually taped a lot of the interactions.

Oh, Excellent.

Kakalios: I don’t know whether they’ll wind up using it or not but they wanted to know: What would a lab look like? We see Dr. Manhattan working on some device here. What would he be doing? What would he be using? There are some modifications that I’m not allowed to talk about, of the devices and stuff and its like, “How would that work?”

Some of it’s out. I can tell you what’s out and you could elaborate. We know that Dr. Manhattan is going to be working on World Universal Energy and that’s a new subplot that they’ve added. So, without telling anything, did you consult on some of that stuff? Or no?

Kakalios: A little bit, a little bit. Again, that’s kind of like saying ‘removing an intrinsic field.’ World Universal Energy is like having a heart reactor that you could put in your chest. But we talked a little bit about some other things. We talked about why would he be fooled by this or that? I said, well, if he was good at social interactions he wouldn’t have gone into physics in the first place.

True. Very true. Well, they show him being very socially awkward as Osterman in the beginning as well. Which helps.

Kakalios: Exactly.

So then we he becomes so divided from humanity it makes sense.

Kakalios: Yup.

I know you can’t say anything but I’m gonna ask you anyway because it will make everybody drool, do you know the ending? Because we know the endings changed, but did they give you that privileged information to know?

Kakalios: This is the honest to God’s truth. I saw a copy of the script before they even started shooting. Based on things that I’ve heard, even that’s changed. And so, that was the part that was still being worked on. I talked to them a little about some things. That was the part they were still kind of going through. So what was finally decided I’m actually not aware of. And I will probably discover it on March 6th like everyone else.

That’s funny, you couldn’t call Alex [McDowell] or Zack [Snyder] at Warner Bros. and say, hey, this is between you and me and I’ll keep it to myself.

Kakalios: I didn’t do that because I didn’t want to abuse… because I did want to keep it to myself.

[Laughing] I actually know what you mean. I almost feel the same way. I know what that’s like.

Kakalios: It was kind of funny because, seeing the people there, their dedication to doing such a good job and with the script… I think actually if you filmed every panel in order it would actually be a bad movie. I think you have to change some things around to make it exist as a film and not just a filmed version of the graphic novel. So given that, before I sat down with the script I said, Okay. I’m going to make some predictions of what got cut. Like Black Freighter. That was an easy one. And we know what’s going to be done with the Black Freighter, that’s not privileged information. An awful lot of stuff that I thought was going to get cut is in there. An awful lot. And at least was in the script that I read. Seeing early grumblings on your Web site, because I would go and I would lurk because I was really curious as to what people were saying with the Watchmen film, this was very early in the process. Now there’s a lot of attention obviously. I was biting my tongue. Saying, guys… even without giving anything away, relax. It’s really going to be good. But I just didn’t even want to get into that. And also they asked me not to. So for a long time I couldn’t…

Yeah. A lot you wanted to say, you couldn’t.

Kakalios: I couldn’t. So at this stage I ran into Zack Snyder and I had a chance but I would never think to actually say to him, now, by the way, what did you decide to do?

Yeah. It’s a question that I don’t even ask anymore because I think you’re right… Too many people ask me…

Kakalios: I was impressed that nobody asked it yesterday [at the Watchmen panel]!

I think they knew they weren’t going to get an answer. And I think they’re already knew… Zack has commented that there’s change, but he’s also saying don’t worry, it’s very faithful to the graphic novel and it’s not going to change the arc of the story or the meaning and how it ends. And a lot of people on the forum are saying, “Look. As long as [SPOILER OMITTED], we’re okay.” I’m okay. We could lose the squid. We always call it the “big space vagina.” It was a little silly looking too. So my theory is they just changed that. They changed the squid into something else. And it’s probably going to be really horrific looking and not comical. That’s my guess. But we’ll have to wait and see. I hope it’s not Dr. Manhattan’s Universal Energy Beam thing. We’ll see.

Kakalios: I really don’t know. I will say on the level of coolness, when they sent this information to me, when my wife called and said, “You got a FedEx package. What’s Veidt Industries?” [laughing] Because they were using that as the return address. I saved the FedEx bill of lading and the package. There was all this stuff that was going on that for most people, you could have said Watchmen and they wouldn’t have known. It’s kind of funny because if someone would know Veidt Industries, they would know it was Watchmen. If they didn’t know that they probably wouldn’t know Watchmen either. So you could just say “Watchmen.”

That’s true. Just say Watchmen Industries. They’ll think it’s a religious organization.

Kakalios: [Chuckling] Yes.

8.21.08 Source:

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