‘Watchmen’ Already Upsetting the Media Masses

Yesterday Matt Selman, a writer and exec producer on “The Simpsons”, wrote up a review of Watchmen on Time.com’s Nerdworld blog. I haven’t read the review but based on descriptions from others I understand it to be HIGHLY positive. Jeff Wells at Hollywood-Elsewhere refers to Sellman saying he is “a completely prejudiced and unreliable shill. He’s an invested pre-believer, a suck-up, an emotional pushover — his word means absolutely nothing.” Mmmmmkay…

Devin Faraci at CHUD gets upset for a different reason. Devin’s upset because Sellman is breaking review embargoes under the guise that he is not a journalist. “Make no mistake, this is a review,” says Devin. “And make no mistake, despite what [this] reviewer and Simpsons executive producer says, he’s a journalist in this case. He’s blogging on the Time magazine website in a Time magazine-sanctioned blog, for the love of God! [And] I’m going to guess that he’s probably drawing a dime or two for his work.”

Obviously the idea of being first in the online world isn’t only reserved for quick-to-the-draw Ain’t It Cool News talkbackers and if you are under the impression having the first official review of a major geekdom film is not a big deal in terms of traffic and exposure guess again. Just last year I was one of the first ten online reviewers to post a review of The Dark Knight and my review enjoyed quite the favorable hit count as a result. Trust me, there is a legitimacy to Devin’s rant.

He continues, addressing something all online-only critics have dealt with saying, “This is sheer bullshit, and I hope that the next time some studio flack talks about how online breaks embargo, they remember that it was Time fucking magazine that did it. And let it be noted that I have no problem with the embargo and with Warner Bros enforcing it; I have a problem with certain elements in the media believing that they’re above it all.” Obviously Devin’s flowery language is one more reason not a lot of respect is thrown in the direction of the online world, but if you don’t cause a fuss online you are rarely heard.

As for the review, like I said, I didn’t read it because I don’t want to be spoiled before I see it this coming March 2nd. However, I can’t help but agree with Jeff Wells’s take on this early review, even as someone that enjoyed the “Watchmen” graphic novel, admittedly not as much as the loyal followers but enough to be excited.

Wells says, “Only when a vigorous non-fan of comic book fantasy and phantasmagoria like myself sees Watchmen and does cartwheels…only when someone like me freaks out and sings arias about this film will it mean anything to anyone.” Obviously Wells has his arms wrapped all around himself in love and adulation, but I think his general point is understood.

Remember, The Dark Knight won over reviewers of all types, but I can’t imagine Watchmen equalling that acclaim especially since a certain distaste for the word “visionary” has even made its way to the pages of the New York Times in a piece from Brooks Barnes headlined “A Director of Two Films Is Suddenly a ‘Visionary’ by His Third “.

Barnes refers to the idea of Snyder as a visionary as possibly setting “a new standard on stretching the truth by heaping an unusual amount of praise” on the director. Considering Snyder’s only films are the 2004 horror remake Dawn of the Dead and the admittedly stunning 300, which benefit from style where it lacked in story, it is hard to consider him a visionary. He has basically only presented the “vision” of George A. Romero, Frank Miller and now Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Is it really his vision we are lauding?

Pretty much all early buzz for Watchmen has been positive ranging from early reviews from director Kevin Smith as well as screenings of extended bits of footage from genre movie sites, which hardly constitutes a biased opinion as Wells says, but is positive reinforcement in the right sectors.

Of course, labels, early reviews, embargoes and everything else don’t matter when it comes to film. I avoid blockbuster reviews simply in an attempt to make my first viewing as opinion free as possible. Sure, it’s impossible to avoid buzz, but I don’t care to know any of the particulars, and a lot of the mess discussed above boils down to schoolyard bickering.


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