(Warning: Here there be spoilers.)
During the scene of Jon Osterman (Billy Crudup)’s first full-on appearance as Dr. Manhattan, at the lab cafeteria where he manages to reconstitute himself days after being blasted apart by the Intrinsic Field Center, there was a crude, jarring and ham-handed jump cut in the movie, the first of many, and I thought, ok. So it was the blue penis that threw the MTRCB censors into apoplectic fits and made them cut up Watchmen. So are they going to censor every instance the big blue banana makes a screen appearance? If that was true, we were in for a lot of jump cuts.
It was just the one time, if it was even a cut; the blue banana made subsequent full frontal appearances unmolested by the MTRCB later on in the movie, to uncontrolled giggling of largely juvenile audiences. (I suppose these are the same people who giggle at the UP Oblation every time they pass by the statue in the Diliman campus.)
Apparently the MTRCB’s major trims were reserved for the backseat action in Nite Owl’s ride, between Patrick Wilson’s and Malin Akerman’s masked heroes (and apparently, we discover, Nite Owl performs better in costume that he does in civilian garb.)
Unsurprisingly, there were no trims for the graphic double arm amputation scene at Rorshach’s cell, or the dogs fighting over the partially eaten shin bone and still-shoe’d foot of the murdered and mutilated little girl, or the goodfella intestines hanging off the ceiling of the club courtesy of Dr. Manhattan. I was especially taken aback by The Comedian’s exceptionally brutal and vicious attempted rape of Silk Spectre.
Loving, passionate sex always trumps unflinching, graphic violence, as always. So snip snip snip. No gratuitous sex! Gratuitous violence, yes, but sex? No frakkin’ way. (But that’s a ranting for some other post. Like my mother-in-law loves to say about most things in life, what can we do?)
A large part of the adult nature of the material is precisely that unflinching violence, present in the graphic novel, and front and center in the movie. It is this violence that sets it apart from even the already sobering and serious tone of The Dark Knight. This is the nasty stuff. The bone-crunching, flesh-rending kind of brutality more at home with recent gore porn like in the Saw series of films. Viewers looking for pop-culture superhero-ness in the vein of Iron Man or Hulk will be in a for a surprise. This is a comic-book movie?
But Zack Snyder’s stylized treatment puts a glamorous veneer over the violence of Watchmen, and the slow motion stop-starts of the action make the fighting less draining and somehow exhilarating. The Dolby punctuation of the teeth-jarring punches and the juxtaposition of incongruous, yet appropriate music makes for exquisite contrast. I will never listen to “Unforgettable” in the same way ever again.