Rated – R
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
A quick note to begin my review, I have read the Alan Moore graphic novel so because of that very fact, my opinion might be biased. That being said, I enjoyed Watchmen, the film, very much. It was everything I expected it to be: visually stunning, a mediocre ensemble performance, faithful to the novel (as much as possible), and very graphic.
It’s hard to judge how much I really liked this film because of my expectations going in. I knew that there was no way the film was going to live up to the novel, at the same time I felt Zack Snyder was going to bring his A-game to the screen. It wasn’t the most enjoyable film from start to finish, but it had some of the most awesome fighting scenes I have ever seen.
I always wonder if someone who hasn’t read the novel would follow the story as clearly as someone who has. Just like when The Da Vinci Code and The Golden Compass came out in theaters, there were a number of scenes that people who haven’t read the novels were confused about and I played my part filling the details in. Watchmen did the same thing, stripped down the storyline to make it as simple as possible, which made some scenes seem forced and a bit out of touch with the rest of the movie. But since it was simplified, newcomers to the source were able to follow the film fairly well.
In a nutshell, Watchmen is a story that takes place in the 80’s in an alternate Earth that follows a small group of retired masked heroes who investigate a murder of one of their own and now suspect that they could be next to be hunted down. The bigger scope of the story has the world in a Cold War, between American and Russia, and paranoia is spreading. The brilliance of the story is how each masked hero perceives the world differently and how their actions reflect that. And when it all boils down through the material of their costumes, the politics, and their personal agendas, they’re just as helpless and hopeless as any other human on this Earth.
This all might sound cynical, but that’s the tone of Watchmen. The tone definitely didn’t carry over to the screen adaptation, but overall the movie was very good. If only it was a bit more timely. This had the effect that Rent would have if it first made its run on Broadway right now instead of the early 90’s. Sure, the threat of nuclear war and Armageddon is always among us, but the paranoia has altered. The economy crisis is much more important to the city minds than the end of the world (though somehow they could be linked). For what it was, Watchmen should go down as one of the more memorable comic-book, superhero films. It’s just not a classic like the graphic novel.