Watchmen Review

I was afraid to see Watchmen. Afraid the film wouldn’t live up to the hype. Afraid it wouldn’t live up to Alan Moore’s original graphic novel. More importantly, I was afraid I’d fall asleep during the 1:00 am showing.

In short, it doesn’t live up to the hype and doesn’t live up to the graphic novel, but it doesn’t put me to sleep either. It manages to stand out from most comic-based movies in a sense that it’s not just about an eternally good hero triumphing over the evil villain, and because of this, I recommend the film to everyone. But don’t expect “amazing”—expect “good,” and at times, “fun.”

Very little is changed, from the story to the settings to the sex scenes.

Imagine costumed heroes really existed, and the setting wasn’t Gotham City or Metropolis, but New York. They all run around, fighting costumed criminals, although neither of them have any real powers. Suddenly, through a freak accident, a real super hero appears who has god-like powers. Named Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), he is used by the government as a tool to win the Vietnam War and scare any other U.S. threat. Later, society protest costumed heroes and the government eventually bans them, only allowing government sanctioned heroes to remain—Dr. Manhattan and The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

This, however, is all in the past. In the present, when the film begins, a linebacker-sized man by the name of Edward Blake is murdered. Upon further inspection by the psychotic vigilante Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), it is learned that Edward Blake is The Comedian. But who killed The Comedian and why? “Who watches the Watchmen?”

But Snyder is not known for his focus on character depth but rather his film’s slow motion action sequences, and the ones in Watchmen are full of blood splattering, bone shattering, and body disintegrating.

If you’ve read graphic novel, you’ll know almost exactly what happens next. Very little is changed, from the story to the settings to the sex scenes. Zack Snyder (300), the film’s director, used the novel as a storyboard for the film, so it really feels as if the pages came to life albeit without the novels soul.

The things that make the novel great are either non-existent in the film or were lost in translation. The characters, for example, are all fairly three-dimensional in the book, but in the film most of them are much flatter. This is because the novel dedicates at least one chapter to each of the main characters while the film, although three-hours long, didn’t have the time to spare. While moviegoers may have an idea, they won’t really understand why these heroes are the way they are.

The characters that do standout do so partly because of the greatness of the original source material, but also because of the acting. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian / Edward Blake), Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach / Walter Kolvacs), and Matthew Goode (Ozymandias / Adrian Veidt) were all memorable and will no doubt standout in every moviegoers mind. Patrick Wilson (Night Owl / Daniel Dreiberg), Malin Åkerman (Laurie Juspeczyk / Silk Spectre II), and Billy Crudup (Dr. Jon Osterman / Doctor Manhattan) I suspect will standout more for their nudity than for their emotional depth. Unfortunately, all of them run out of steam about an hour into the film.

The things that make the novel great are either non-existent in the film or were lost in translation.

But Snyder is not known for his focus on character depth but rather his film’s slow motion action sequences, and the ones in Watchmen are full of blood splattering, bone shattering, and body disintegrating. It’s enough to make audiences turn their heads away from the screen more than once, and it gives the movie one leg to stand up on.

The movies second leg is its soundtrack. At times it fits seamlessly with the visuals on screen like the films informative opening sequence to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin,” while at other times it’s a brilliant contrast like the sex scene to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Watchmen is a good film overall, managing to maintain the same tone and feeling of the novel. However, like I stated previously, the film does not manage to capture the plethora of things that make the book so great. It’s as if the graphic novel tells and shows, while the movie just shows. People who have never read the novel may still enjoy the movie, but they might not walk away asking themselves the same questions the book raises. What kind of person would dress up and fight crime? How would the existence of a super human effect the world? Are we better off without “watchmen?”

Tags: , ,

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 8th, 2009 at 7:32 pm and is filed under Movies, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Watchmen Review”

  1. Paul Green Says:

    March 9th, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I have not yet read the actual graphic novel, so I am not able to compare this movie with the original. Considering the storyline I feel it as a superb flop. None of the characters play a strong role. I thought that the action scenes would be similar to movie 300, but it was not even 25% near to that! And over that I wasted my $20 towards the tickets.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.