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Posted on 3/09/09 10:53 AM
Upon reading Alan Moore‚??s Watchmen I was blown away by its complexity and attention to various small details that could be present in a society where caped crusaders were a part of everyday life, and the loved the philosophy presented within the panels, but now I am forced into the difficult task of judging this movie adaptation of the infamous graphic novel. Upon seeing this movie I wrote an initial review of my opinion, but realized there was something wrong with it. The problem was that I was spending more time praising Moore‚??s novel than the actual movie, so I deleted it and decided to start from scratch after spending a good deal of time reflecting on the movie and flipping through the panels of the comic.
Now I am torn between liking and disliking this film adaptation of the beloved graphic novel.
On one hand I love Moore‚??s original story and comic. On the other hand I am not very fond of director Zack Snyder‚??s previous films (the remake of Dawn of the Dead and 300).
On one hand this movie mimics the visual style of the novel very well and looks very well polished. On the other hand Snyder and his team in their dedication to perfectly mimicking the story of the graphic novel have made this final product come across as very mechanical and unmoving.
For the most part the actors pull of their parts, but none of them really go above and beyond to truly make the characters anything more than iconic images lovingly ripped from the panels of Moore‚??s story. There were only two actors who I felt really tried to do something with their characters in an attempt to enhance the characters, and they were Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian. Aside from these two performances I feel that most of the actors were so determined to fit Snyder‚??s idea of matching the book perfectly that they failed to take the initiative to really try and break the wall and make this movie more than the graphic novel put into motion. But, not to leave him out of this review Billy Crudup did do a satisfactory performance behind the make-up and special effects for his portrayal of Doctor Manhattan, but it wasn‚??t good enough to really get my attention when compared to Earle Haley and Dean Morgan.
We also get decent performances by a few minor, supporting cast members, such as Robert Wisden as Richard Nixon. He wasn‚??t no Frank Langella and his make-up was rather off part of Snyder once again trying to carbon copy the graphic novel), but it was by no means a bad Nixon performance. A good supporting act is also given by Carla Gugino as the first Silk Spectre.
As far as acting goes I found the acting of Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl II) and Malin Ackerman (Silk Spectre II) to be undeniably stiff in both their respective roles, but the actor who managed to disappoint me most in the entire production would have to be Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt (AKA: Ozymandias). This man lacked the charisma, and charm I felt when reading the character in the book, and Goode just seems to have no emotion, simply being there to show off his fancy hair, and talk in his accented voice, but I will also say Wilson and Ackerman are only better by a small notch. The performances of these three individuals as a whole were some of the key reasons Watchmen disappointed me as a film.
Even with acting problems the production is a good and it is strong. The images are dazzling, and very true to the comic. It is definitely one of best providers of eye candy we‚??re likely to see 2009, but then we have to remember visuals aren‚??t everything, and that‚??s why I was let down by this film.
My biggest problem, as I have previously mentioned, is the lack of initiative that the production crew took when making this film. It‚??s like they took up a diet of respectively redoing the comic for twelve weeks until they remembered each panel perfectly and made the actors do the same. Most of the actors don‚??t look like they‚??re really into their roles, and the production is just a fanboy dream come true, but it manages to do one thing that made me mad that keeps me from rating this higher than a seven.
If this had just been a visual comic down to the letter I would probably give it an 8/10, but the few times Snyder decides to take action and add in his own little ideas to the plot it just really distracted me from the concept of the story, and ruined the mood for me. What is it that Snyder is adding that angers me so much? Perhaps the most pointless gore and drawn out sex scenes I have ever seen on the big screen.
The gore is tacky, and cheap, and distracts from the story, and philosophy behind the images. Many of these images were not in the graphic novel, and nor were they ever even HINTED in the graphic novel. In this movie we have arms broken wide open, a man has his arms cut off, and a man repeatedly has his head cut into by a meat cleaver. None of these moments ever took place in the graphic novel, and I felt they threw off the pace, and distracted the viewers from what was actually going on, and I won‚??t even talk about how he drew out a sex scene that was like six-panels into a 5-10 minute scene.
My favorite part was by far the opening credits, and I don‚??t say that in a bad way because it was really a brilliant way to open the movie. To the tune of ‚??The Times They Are A Changin‚?? we get an animated series of photos that maps out most of the Watchmen‚??s history, the universe they live in, and the setting for the rest of the film. This moment alone makes this movie a must-see for fans of the comics.
I can‚??t recommend this film very positively because I for one was disappointed by the finished product. I‚??m sure many will rave about this film, and it‚??s sure to become a cult-classic, but compared to the graphic novel it really is nothing. Watchmen may be the most endearing comic of all time, and is a classic for the medium, but as a film its impact will not be as lasting as films such as last year‚??s The Dark Knight. The comic will always be remembered as a great, and an incredibly unique, original tale, but I fear this film adaptation will slip away into strictly cult-movie realm over the next twenty years.