Never Compromise

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2009 at 4:35 am

page6watchmen“Who Watches the Watchmen?” On its opening weekend I’d say a whole bunch of people.  The movie based on the iconic graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons opened this Friday to packed houses all across the nation.  At the helm of the project is director Zack Snyder (300) and his high gloss style.  Since the mid-nineties the rights to Watchmen have been traded between studios the project given to different directors and at one time almost canned for good.  After months of hype and protest from disgruntled Watchmen purists the film finally hit theaters.

The biggest gripe about a Watchmen movie has always been the novels huge and twisting scope.  Each character gets a good chunk of time for both back story and recent history as well as insight into personal affairs of course.  Watchmen lovers also had a problem with condensing own Moore’s work into a movie because the novel takes time to develop the urgency of Nixon’s tyrannical rein in an alternate 1985.  The good news is Zack Snyder does a much better job with Watchmen than he did with 300.

Unlike 300, Snyder invests serious time in each of the Watchmen and through a Bob Dylan soaked opening montage does a great job of showing the plight of the masked heroes before them, The Minutemen.   Snyder follows Watchmen page-by-page and word-by-word at points but indulges a little by elongating fight sequences and upping gore, both of which end up working for the movie. The film’s opening scene, a fight between a masked intruder and the 60 something former Watchmen Edward Blake aka The Comedian is just as brutal as anything in 300 and yet feels like a panel right out of Watchmen.  With the doomsday clock at five minutes to midnight and the world on the bring of nuclear annihilation Snyder takes the audience through the flaws of human nature, the scarred life of former heroes and the view one never compromising right wing vigilante.

Stealing the show is Oscar nominated actor Jack Earle Haley as Rorschach.  Haley not only looks like the Rorschach in the book but also almost comes to embody him; his acting chops really show through as the unwavering fighter.   Another good performance came from Billy Crudup (Almost Famous) as Dr. Manhattan.  Out of touch with humanity and Earth itself Crudup does a great job of pulling emotions from the emotionless and showing the depth of Dr. Manhattan.  With Haley and Crudup as the cast’s big names (or not so big) the lack of star power may come off as a problem but it doesn’t, just see the sex scene between Night Owl II and Silk Spectre II for justification.

Though Watchmen has what it takes to please audiences Snyder does falter from time to time with his directorial choices.  Most elite fans will argue about the absence of the books within Watchmen, “The Curse of the Black Freighter” and “Under the Hood” both of which add significantly to the Watchmen experience.  With the movie running a little under three hours it already feels long at times making Snyder’s cutting of the two books both a good and bad idea.  The biggest issue Watchmen runs into is the slight alteration of its ending.  Snyder ops to omit SPOILER ALERT the books thrashing monster replacing it with a cataclysmic explosion END SPOILER.  While is does detract for fans, Snyder’s choice is legitimate, reworking the ending only slightly to make it more relevant to people today.

If you’re a fan of Watchmen or graphic novels for that matter go see the film.  Zack Snyder is the first director to bring one of Alan Moore’s books (read V for Vendetta then watch the movie) to life the right way, though he strays slightly the overall feeling is correct. Stylistically Watchmen the film is a translation of the book, dark, brutal, and heavy.  If you aren’t a fan of Watchmen read up before you see the movie.  This isn’t Spider-Man 3 and with its ping-ponging story lines, length, and graphic nature Watchmen can easy become a hassle for a viewer looking for Toby McGuire swing dancing.  So read the novel, take a little breather to get pumped, and go check out a movie that doesn’t really compromise but rather condenses what Lost creator J.J. Abrams calls “The greatest piece of popular fiction ever written.”


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