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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:26 am 
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A while ago I read that Gary Goldman did a draft of the script that contained the squid. After a while of looking around, I found the draft of the script and read it. Here's a little review of it I've made for you:

I'd say about 70% of the script is very faithful to the graphic novel. If you want to get an idea of how faithful it is, the squid is actually in the script afterall. However, there are some big changes towards the end that disappointed me about this particular adaptation. There are small to big changes, for example: Dreiberg goes to see Veidt to ask him about The Comedian but as he leaves, Rorschach comes in and interrogates Veidt as well. Things like that, that struck me as clunky and unnecessary, but they're not a big hindrance. Then the funeral features only one, and it's a very changed version of the one where The Comedian burns the map; it's transformed into a scene where The Comedian convinces everyone (but Rorschach) to quit and follow through the Keene Act. Nothing is made out about The Comedian attempting to rape Sally or him and Dr. Manhattan fighting in Vietnam.

Also, there's a big running subplot about a recently-reed-from-jail criminal group known as The Brain Trust that actually kind of works because they're made out to be the suspects of the killings, it wasn't necessary in the graphic novel, but here it helps to add external conflict and threat to the characters. And remember that hokey prologue from the Hamm draft? Here Goldman appropriated it and turned it as a scene in a movie-within-a-movie about the Watchmen (that's how they've called them in this script too) and it actually works, both as a fuck you to the Hamm draft and as a way of giving some more background story.

The way they did the Grice killing in this draft is rather interesting. Rorschach pours hamburger meat all over Grice and stuffs it in his mouth, and his dogs walk through the door and eat him, with Rorschach later killing them. I certainly found it far more creative than the cleaving Grice gets in the final movie, and I kind of wish they had left this in.

Another small change is that Dr.Manhattan's exit from Earth is made out to be unspectacular. There's no real build up to it, no "LEAVE ME ALONE!", instead he just leaves in the middle of the interview and instead of going to Mars, he goes to...the Moon. And the script takes a while to make a big deal out of this. Nuclear conflict escalates between China and India, instead of the Soviet Union and the US as in the comic. But instead of the latent conflict in the comics and the film, things get nasty fast, climaxing in a nuclear attack on India, witnessed by Manhattan and Laurie on the moon. This is the only part where placing it on the Moon made sense to me, otherwise, it's stupid, especially because no one has any idea of where he is. And from this point on, the faithfulness falls apart.

Since the movie doesn't really dwell on the background about The Comedian, no big revelation is made out to Laurie. Finally, Veidt sends the squid to NYC inside a spacecraft he made himself. Then, Rorschach kills Veidt and instead of a blast by Manhattan, Rorschach dies from his wounds. No kiss between Dreiberg and Laurie, no real goodbye between them and absolutely nothing about Rorschach's Journal, which the movie introduces but does nothing with. Instead, the movie ends with a Christmas dinner between Laurie, Dreiberg, Hollis and Sally with Silk Spectre and Dreiberg going out on more adventures.

Overall I enjoyed reading this script up to a point and it's interesting that it got rather ballsy in spots, especially for a revision of the Hamm draft. Unfortuantely, it shoots itself in the foot at the end and before and it really wouldn't have been a great adaptation and as a film, only merely okay, but it would've been memorable. If you have any questions, I may answer them throughout this thread.

NOTE: I'm not sure if this is the Gary Goldman of Don Bluth fame or the Gary Goldman of Big Trouble in Little China, Total Recall and Navy SEALs.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 4:26 pm 
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Finally read it. Gotta say, I prefer the version we ultimately got (the Director's Cut, anyway). Though I appreciate this screenplay's efforts to make the nuclear conflict more global in scale, it just isn't as effective as the straightforward Cold War US/USSR conflict of the novel, or the War Room scenes to depict it. I also thought that the pacing was off in places -- there was no reason for the first Dan/Laurie sex scene to be as long as it was in the graphic novel, and pretty much all of the prison scenes felt wrong somehow.

Then there's how Goldman treated the characters. Aside from Rorschach, pretty much all of the characters felt off. The Comedian and Dr. Manhattan were stripped of pretty much anything that made them interesting. That seemed to come at the expense of making Veidt more involved, which I could appreciate if that effort wasn't completely undone at the end. Mason's death wasn't included, which affects Dreiberg in some very deep ways, and Laurie... no. Just no. I respect Goldman's efforts to try and make her a stronger figure, but between her completely butchered talk with Dr. Manhattan in space and her "distraction" during the prison scene? No. Sorry, no.

Of course, the big problem is with the ending. The graphic novel's conclusion was a complex series of checks and balances, all precisely measured to keep the outcome and morality ambiguous. Snyder's film damaged that ambiguity in some prominent ways, but even that damage was like a bloody nose compared to the point-blank shotgun blast of this screenplay's ending. Aside from the bare-bones idea of world peace resulting from a huge calamity, pretty much every other point and counterpoint was entirely ruined.

So what is there to like? Well, the mystery is quite engaging, with some neat red herrings thrown in that weren't in the graphic novel. I also think that the film-within-a-film was a clever way to dispense with some backstory, though I really wish we did away with that stupid Statue of Liberty plot altogether. Maybe it could have been a film adaptation of the Nite Owl/Comedian flashback, when they were dispersing the police strike riots. That would have been much more informative and closer to canon.

There's also the inclusion of the Brain Trust. A brand new group of villains to help Ozymandias build his squid. I've got to admit, that's actually pretty clever. And given Veidt's established practice of hiring former villains (see: Moloch), it's entirely plausible.

I'd say it's a valiant effort overall, but still further proof that Watchmen is truly impossible to adapt. We were never going to get a movie as good as the graphic novel; it just wasn't an option. Moreover, I think it speaks to the graphic novel's complexity, its variety and depth, that we've had so many different screenplay attempts and they were all entirely different. There's so much in this source material to chew on, how could anyone choose where to focus?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 4:07 am 
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I didn't like Goldman's treatment of the characters for the most part, especially Dr. Manhattan. And again, I can understand why they exclude Mason or even his death, but neither Goldman nor Snyder figured out how to do a decent two-punch: Have Mason be killed by the squid.

Again, I also dug the Brain Trust. This is something else I would've liked to see in the movie. As a reader of the comics, the mystery was the main pull for me and I felt like the film never quite got the experience of trying to figure out who the killer was right. The Braint Trust was a great red herring in this regard.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 12:47 pm 
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i don't think mason being killed by the squid would be as crazy as him being brutally murdered by some TKs, and certainly wouldn't have the same impact on dan. it was also a nice twist, you get some harmless old fart all of a sudden being slaughtered because a few junkies mistook him for the younger iteration of his alter-ego.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 6:38 pm 
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WJK wrote:
i don't think mason being killed by the squid would be as crazy as him being brutally murdered by some TKs, and certainly wouldn't have the same impact on dan. it was also a nice twist, you get some harmless old fart all of a sudden being slaughtered because a few junkies mistook him for the younger iteration of his alter-ego.


It's one of the most brutal and memorable spots in the book, and one that Snyder executed quite well in the Director's Cut. But it would have been a way to get you to care about the impact the squid had on people. Although, again, as we discussed in our MOS viewing, perhaps more carnage was necessary.

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