09
Mar
09

Movie Review: Watchmen

watchmen_rorschach

 

Who watches the “Watchmen?” I did…

 

Stars Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earl Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, and Matt Frewer. Directed by Zack Snyder. Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

 

Loud, brash, abrasive, violent, brutal, gorey, slick, sexy, and a bit underwhelming.

 

“Watchmen” (based on the graphic novel I previously reviewed) is set in alternate 1985. The U.S. won the Vietnam War (with the help of Dr. Manhattan). Richard Nixon is on his fifth term of office. At any moment we could be swapping nukes with the Russians. And in New York City, a Comedian dies…

 

So goes “Watchmen,” the latest superhero/graphic novel adaptation from acclaimed graphic novel adapting filmmaker, Zack Snyder. For those who don’t know (or read the title cards in the trailers) Snyder is responsible for the film adaptation of “300,” a graphic novel by Frank Miller. Ever the technical director, Snyder ups the ante with his take on the acclaimed Moore/Gibbons series.

 

Before I go too much further, I finally figured out what a “fanboy” or “fangirl” is. These are the people who turn out to see these movies on the sheer fact that what they’re watching is based on the comic book/graphic novel. This is ultimately their movie.

 

And for them Snyder delivers. Snyder takes literal adaptation to the next level by making sure that the film looks EXACTLY like the graphic novel in every frame possible. If you just wanted to see this achieved, then here you go.

 

If you liked “300,” or Zack Snyder as a director, or love comic book movies no matter what (and I cannot stress that enough), then this is your movie. Have at it. Enjoy.

 

Still reading? Good.

 

“Watchmen” fails on the account that Snyder doesn’t understand nuance. Or breathing room. Or the fact that just because you wanna make a carbon copy of something the acclaim of the source material will shine down upon you, because it won’t (see: Gus Van Sant version of “Psycho”) Through this movie I have learned the reason why the “boring parts” in books and movies exist: because we, the audience, need a moment to process what just happened.

 

For those who have read the graphic novel, do this: take out all scenes centering around the man and his newsstand. Take out all of the “Tales of the Black Freighter.” Take out all the newsclippings, sections from “Hooded Justice,” and anything remotely literary. What you have left is the “Watchmen” movie.

 

And on that note Snyder is a success, although I think that removing allegory, nuance, paranoia and subtlety in favor of slick brutality and violence isn’t much of a success, but then again I don’t have his bank account. The one thing I will give him credit for is the opening; a montage of events surrounding superheroes caught in 3-D slow-mo. I also thought his ending worked better than the “giant psychic squid” of the graphic novel.

 

As for the rest, it was difficult for me to care. I loved Rorschach in the graphic novel; a post-40’s detective that nobody likes solving a murder no one cares about and finding the answers reveal something more sinister. While the same is achieved in the movie, Snyder does not allow for the same breathing room as the comics and forgoes the noir tone for action/adventure. Imagine a movie like, “Chinatown,” with most of the investigating removed.

 

“Watchmen” writer Alan Moore had his name taken off of this and refuses to acknowledge the movie, citing it as “unfilmable.” Maybe it’s because previous works, “From Hell,” and “V for Vendetta,” weren’t faithful to his vision. Having read the graphic novel, I entirely understand. But I hope he gets some of the royalties…

 

My grade :B (based on technical achievement)

 

 

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2 Responses to “Movie Review: Watchmen”


  1. March 13, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Another great review ! I liked this flick… But found it to be rather long.
    And I wanted a more in-depth look at some of the characters.

    Like

  2. March 14, 2009 at 8:37 am

    my immediate reaction to Watchmen is to feel haunted by the intense style and storyline — haunted in a good way that is… overall i loved it

    Like


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