Sunday, March 14, 2010

Watchmen (2009)

“Who watches the Watchmen?”-A question scribbled in graffiti on a crumbling wall in a dying city. One that begs answering, and perhaps lies at the heart of both the graphic novel and its very good film adaptation. While I don’t feel either source material truly has the answer (its all subject to debate anyways), each explores the matter and other issues raised at hand in their own ways. The novel is more successful, but the film also does a fine job of bring such a complex multi-themed source material to life.

What is most notable about the movie is the stunning and striking visuals. They are magnificent and vivid, brought to life by both CGI and expert set design, and they are the movie’s strongest assets. In many ways the film’s director, Zach Snyder, perfectly captures the look and feel of the book’s illustrations. One of my favorite moments showcased on screen is a dream sequence that is both beautiful and terrifying, expertly capturing blind undying love in the face of nuclear destruction.

Despite many pointed criticisms aimed at the acting, there is nothing wrong with the movie’s cast. Even though Malin Aikmen and Matthew Goode are the weakest links, they are still fairly solid and properly bring their characters to life-despite the fact that Aikman was weak in the serious dramatic scenes featuring Laurie, and Goode made Ozy/Vedrt seem too much like a smarmy Bond villain. As Rousarch, Jackie Earle Haley had the best part of the entire bunch, and executed it with relish and great skill. Another standout aside from Bill Crudup’s spot on performance as Dr. Manhattan is Patrick Wilson, who captured Night Owl II’s brooding, impotent and weary personality in a way that speaks to his talent as an actor. I expect to see great things from him in the future.

Overall, this movie mostly captures the “Big Picture” elements of the graphic novel, and does have a decent amount of detail, but it does kind of falter in transferring some of the book’s more complex ideas to the screen. I cannot fully fault Snyder for not doing so though, since its remarkable that he managed to adapt the book at all, while keeping the whole thing at a reasonable length, overcoming the danger of a bloated mess. Although I do look forward eagerly to the longer director’s cut, which will also feature “The Black Freighter” and “Tales From Under the Hood.”

If anything, Snyder should be applauded for daring to bring this sweeping work of fiction to the big screen. His ambition, and unwillingness to change anything to make the movie “More modern,” which would have ruined the movie overall, results in a really good movie. One that actually stands to be remembered as one of the best comic book/superhero movies of the decade. 90

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