Watchmen: Zack Snyder (2009)

05Mar09

watchmen-teaser-header

I stand by what I said – Watchmen is an unnecessary adaptation of the graphic novel. As a piece of visual pulp art, the film succeeds. But as an adaptation of Alan Moore‘s ideas, Watchmen is a failure albeit an interesting one.

The opening credit sequence is a brilliant slow motion montage set to Bob Dylan’s Times They Are A-Changin’. This establishes the Watchmen universe – an alternate reality where Nixon is in his fifth term, superheroes are real, a giant blue man wins the Vietnam conflict for America and the Cold War has escalated to a nuclear stand-off. The plot follows a masked anti-hero, Rorschach as he tries to uncover clues to the murder of a former masked vigilante, The Comedian.

Visually, Dave Gibbons‘ frames are perfectly translated on celluloid and despite what I feared, the slow motion shots and fight sequences are quite nicely staged when compared to lazy quick cuts prevelant in action films today. The colour palette suits the dark tone of the film. Dave Gibbon’s choice of colour in the book was unlike those of most comics at the time (case in point, Frank Miller‘s revival of Batman) and was an attempt at highlighting the absurdity of masked men running around in tights; that doesn’t seem to have been lost on Snyder.

The plot and narrative lean heavily on Alan Moore’s writing and for most part, doesn’t stray away from the brilliant source material. Where the film fails (and disastrously s0) is when it tries to come up with an original alternative for the ending. There is a huge tonal shift in the third act and character motivations are never obvious to a viewer unfamiliar with the book. Honestly, it was downright silly. However, my favourite bit from the book – Doctor Manhattan’s self imposed exile to Mars – was perfectly done. Doc Manhattan is a naked blue godlike being who has since his freak accident (physics lab accident, of course) become detached from humanity. He teleports himself to Mars after learning he may have been the reason his old friends and lovers seem to have developed cancer. This is perhaps the most outrageous and fantastic arc in the book but it fits right in with the rest of the film.

The soundtrack unfortunately is grating and very out of place. Apart from the opening and closing credits, the songs feel like they were picked out of a Greatest Hits collection from the 80s (Cindy Lauper, Simon and Garfunkel etc). Audiences laughed at what was supposed to be a disturbing sex scene only because Leonard Cohen and a church choir crooned ‘Hallelujah’ in the background. Alan Moore would roll in his grave if he were dead.

I walked out with pretty much the same feeling I had after 300. The film is beautiful to look at but is a muddled mess with flashes of brilliance here and there. Zack Snyder may be a devout fanboy but he may have missed out on what Moore really tried to say – there is no civility in civilization. 

6.5/10

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6 Responses to “Watchmen: Zack Snyder (2009)”

  1. 1 ramblingperfectionist

    Well, I still can’t wait to see it. 🙂

  2. @ramblingperfectionist:
    Me neither… Saturday, saturday, saturday…

    @presti:
    So it was what you expected? Or was it better than you thought it would be… That’s not really clear…

  3. @ramblingperfectionist It is worth a watch but unlike the book, the film is rather forgettable.

    @kalafudra I did like the film in bits and pieces but the third act and choice of music kind of killed the film for me. It wasn’t better than I thought it would be; just the right amount of disappointing. 🙂

  4. @Ravenent I’m not that bad http://tinyurl.com/dmh8z4


  1. 1 Watchmen (2009) « Stuff

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