Monday, March 09, 2009


Watchmen (Zack Snyder, 2009) [7]

All that I really asked of Watchmen is that it stay close to its source material and Snyder delivers, sticking almost religiously close, with the exception of a missing subplot and a modified ending. For the most part, I would recommend the film; it's not perfect but for those who know the graphic novel, it will suffice. For those who go in completely blank, will it work? I really don't think so. The film is just as pessimistic and uncompromising as it could have been, which scores it some points. But it is the film's complete devotion to the world it occupies which give critics an opening to call it closed-off or hermetic, a product of its own reputation. Those who know nothing going in may find it dark and unspectacular. For someone like myself, who wanted a faithful adaptation, it mostly works out.

Snyder's style isn't really my personal favorite but it doesn't overpower the elements of the film. The opening credit sequence is a phenomenal piece of filmmaking. The sometimes overly gruesome fight sequences, not so much. The film has its manic moments which could be toned down but Snyder does keep the film on a steady progression. The film is able to move through its dense web of flashbacks, back story, and alternative history to make every little element relevant to the murder mystery which operates as its central story. The character's stories weave in and out, some better than others. Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach and Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan give the strongest performances. Their characters should as they both have central roles in the structure and storytelling in the graphic novel. On film, the other Watchmen come off as much weaker, either by lax characterization (The Comedian) or flat performances (Malin Akerman basically stinks as Silk Spectre). But as before, they're close enough to the source material that it as good as a representation that a fan could have asked for.

So even though I liked Watchmen, was it really worth it? I don't think the film hurts but it certainly doesn't approve on the graphic novel, which is a great piece of literature. What did I expect of the film? What I really wanted out of it is what I saw of the novel, a complete deconstructionist piece of work. How could you take comic books serious after reading Watchmen? I wanted the film to be something a la The Wild Bunch, a film taken to a place that a film of its sort would never seem relevant again. That film essentially killed the Western. I wanted Watchmen to kill the superhero movie. I didn't expect it out of someone like Snyder and I didn't expect the film to do what I wanted. When all is said and done, Watchmen is not exceptional, nor is it horrible. It's pretty much what I expected.

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