Watchmen Directed by: Zack Snyder Cast: Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode Running Time: 2 hrs 43 mins Rating: R
Plot: In 1985, a group of defunct masked vigilantes struggle with their invalidness while living in a world on the brink of nuclear war. Based on the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.
Who’s It For? Anyone who has ever enjoyed the graphic novel owes to it themselves to see it. It should also be known that this is definitely not a movie for the young crowd - The Incredible Hulk, this ain't.
Expectations: Finally, after two decades, a Watchmen movie is being released. However, compared to many other graphic novels, this one has always been seen as "unfilmable." How would the director of 300 be able to defy such a statement?
Patrick Wilson as Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II: This character is intended to feel like a super-powerless Clark Kent. Wilson understands the vanilla of Nite Owl, but perhaps too well. His performance isn't too memorable, but possibly because his character is the most "normal" of the bunch. Score: 6
Malin Akerman as Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre II: As detracting from the quality of Watchmen as director Zack Snyder's stupid slow-motion is the stone cold performance by Akerman. She stands out as an amateur amongst a cast of believable and credible actors. Even when kicking ass in her tight suit she can not distract us from her poor acting, nevertheless the thought that we wish her on-screen mother, (the saucy Carla Gugino), played her character instead. Score: 3
Jackie Earle Haley as Walter Kovacs/Rorschach: Haley has a late Clint Eastwood-like snarl that makes his mysterious character more terrifying and bizarre than one could've imagined. Some of his oddness is nicely reminiscent of his role in Little Children. Like Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian, Haley is able to equal our expectations of his character and add a personal and positive flare to it. Score: 7
Billy Crudup as Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan: As the giant blue "super man", Crudup's performance walks a fine line between monotone and complete lack of emotion. Pointed out by Ozymandias in the film, the facial expressions of Dr. Manhattan are essential and more powerful in his case than any other form of body movement - Crudup provides these successfully. Score: 7
Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias: The superiority of Adrian Veidt is embodied with great precision by Goode. One of the film's best portrayals, the actor matches our vision of Ozymandias, providing the right bits of flamboyance and perfection that define the character in the novel. Though the script's balance of its characters does not favor Ozymandias, Goode nevertheless provides a performance that is in some ways more resonant than his textual origins. Score: 8
Talking: The most obedient aspect of this adaptation is the dialogue. A great chunk of all talking, it seems, is picked up from the graphic novel and dropped right into the script - the way it should be done. The book's artistic knack for visual duality is highly respected by the film, despite sometimes lacking the exact same punch as when one reads the novel. Score: 8
Sights: When setting up his shots, it has been said that Zack Snyder used the actual pages from the graphic novel for storyboards. Because of this, the film is wonderfully faithful to the brilliant image composition of the book. Many scenes are marvelous frame by frame recreations. Those who have read the novel will be delighted to see their favorite scenes come to life with such precision, while those who are new to Watchmen will be grasped by the cinematography itself. However, be aware: Snyder is still insistent on unnecessary amounts of slow-motion during action, even though he's cut back a bit on using the technique since the disastrous 300. Score: 7
Sounds: The most disruptive element of the film is the dreadful soundtrack. Though filled with classic songs, the particular tracks are disruptive to both the tone and originality of the story. A raucous cover of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" by My Chemical Romance played during the credits is accurate to the film's sense of chaos, but still feels out of place. And also like 300, Snyder continues to chug dorky metal guitars during his fight scenes. Score: 4
Best Scene: The back-stories of each character are crucial and more important than any of the film's action. The best is probably the one of Dr. Manhattan.
Ending: The ending is not the exact same as the graphic novel, but it does work. And contrary to every other super hero movie, there's no room for a sequel (so stop thinking about, Warner Brothers).
Questions: How would other directors have done this differently? Would something like a 12-hour miniseries have been a better choice?
Rewatchability: This fairly-epic sized film is not the standard popcorn comic book movie that Hollywood lives off these days. Nevertheless, it does warrant a handful of repeat viewings.
Considering that this film has been anticipated for 20 years and is based off one of the best graphic novels ever, there is some inescapable disappointment in Watchmen's glaring imperfections - all of which are Snyder's fault. He should've restricted his obsession with slow motion, should've tried to fix Akerman's performance before it was too late, and should've picked songs more interesting than "The Times They Are A-Changin.'"
This is a (rightfully) religious adaptation that bows in fear of its creators. What the film exempts during its copy and pasting isn't entirely harmful, though its overall choices don't make for an experience as near-perfect as the graphic novel. The crucial back-stories of the characters are brought to life magnificently, but the equally important angle of humanity on the very brink of destruction is taken too lightly. The long awaited Watchmen film essentially uses the basic yet gargantuan core of the graphic novel, and with that constructs a very fulfilling experience that justifies the story for those who are cheating themselves out of the better experience of reading the damn book.
Final Score: 7/10