Watchmen 2009 (Directed by Zack Snyder)

Film adaptations of classic books are always tricky. Film adaptations of
classic Graphic Novels and this being the Holy Grail of Graphic Novels,
adapting Alan Moore's truly fantastic story to the big screen was always
going to be hard. As a comic book fan, Watchmen is a personal favorite
so my interest in the film is high. It's amazing that with Snyder's past
as a film maker (300, Dawn Of The Dead) he succeeds with Watchmen
on some levels.

This was my second outing with Watchmen. I caught it on the big
screen last year and was slightly blown away by the visuals
and the overall feel of the film. Watching the film at home the
visuals once again impressed and with the time to really take in
some of the scenes it's obvious that Watchmen looks as good as
anything out there. The death of the Comedian, the credits sequence
charting the rise of the Minutemen through to the creation of
Watchmen time lined by historical events against a musical backdrop
of Dylan's The Times They are a Changing and the story of
Dr. Manhattan's creation to super human being are all
mighty impressive.

Moore's story works on many levels and stripping
back some of the major plots from the novel has created a film that
feels disjointed. The politics of the source have been simplified for
mainstream audiences (obviously a commercial consideration for
Snyder and the kind of budget he was dealing with).
The sex presented within the film is clumsy and verging on the soft
porn variety at times. As expected, the violence is hard and at the
same time glamorous. Moore's book deals not only with
gender issues but particularly how women are dealt with within the
super hero fraternity and the pure fetishistic thrill of pulling on a
rubber costume and administering justice. It's also a book about
identity and human nature. What Snyder serves up is a story about
men in tights and women in stockings (and not much else!) trying to
save the world from Nuclear destruction. That he makes it this
simplistic and it still trumps most comic book adaptations is an
achievement even if Snyders' re-writing of the ending is a little too
convenient to convince.

On the downside the casting is a major problem. Malin
Ackerman (Silk Spectre II), Billy Cudrup (Dr. Manhattan) &
Matthew Goode (Adrien Veidt) really don't cut it in their roles.
Yes, Ackerman looks great in and out of her costume, but boy is
she bad at delivering lines. You don't really believe that DR.
Manhattan would consider saving the world for this bimbo!
The women in Moore's book just come across smarter than this.
However Jackie Earle Haley makes the Rorschach character
his own and gives the film it's soul.
In fact, Rorschach is wonderful in Watchmen and worth the
effort alone. A director's cut (apparently a 4 hour plus version
with those missing plot lines) is coming this year.
Still, a valiant attempt at bringing some complex issues and
themes to a mainstream audience.

Ok, I have been pressured to watch this movie. I have heard
plenty of monologues on how great it was in the cinema.
I have heard that there will be a 5-hour-version of
the film coming out this year.
I have been told repeatedly to read the book. The Graphic
Novel, not a comic.

I found myself oddly entertained by this movie. Despite
the awful acting, the awkward jumping from scene to scene,
and the violence that made me turn my head away from the
screen. The look of the film was pleasing in its grimness.
The 1980s style and the freedom of style which seems to come
with adaptations of comics/graphic novels were almost inspiring
to me.

But why the awful void in the content, when obviously
the original material has grappled with some fascinating
questions about the universe, physics, and human nature?
My favorite character Doctor Manhattan has been a human
being, but through a physics lab-accident he has turned into
someone who can dismantle his molecular structure and travel
thus in time and place. He is a fascinating what-if character
who holds many powers associated only with god. He has
been used as a weapon by the US government, he is
supposed to save the world from nuclear war as well.
But as Doctor Manhattan is not a human anymore, he has
become too distant from humanity, from emotions.
He is unattached to life for its own sake. For a while he sees
nuclear disaster and the extinction of humanity as not such
a bad thing. All this is great. I respect anyone pondering
on such questions, and using their creativity and imagination
to ask questions about our future/past/present.

Unfortunately, the movie had to also be an entertaining
piece of action, so it could not focus only
on the difficult questions of existence.
I'm sure that with some better actors involved this would
have been a great film.


  1. As a huge fan of the book as well, I mostly agree with Nick. Overall this movie is much better than I could have hoped for, and I actually really enjoy watching it.
    The plot is too simplified naturally, but i think the balance between mass entertainment and the book's goal is somewhat succesfull. My main complaint is the hard violence, which feels unnecessary and disjointed for the overall esthetics of the movie (not the mention the book).
    About acting: yes it mostly sucks big time, but somehow I feel it kind of goes with the style. Rorschach is truly great, but I also feel that Veidt and Manhattan are good.

  2. Hi Mikko,
    thanks for commenting. Bad acting is bad acting and somehow ruins this alittle for me. The violence is OTT.I miss the deadpan aspect of the book throughout.


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