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WATCHMEN
2008, Zack Snyder

I don't know how to review it without comparing it to the graphic novel, but basically the book is a genre-shifting masterpiece and the movie definitely is not. The visual spectacle has been replicated and brought to the screen as has most of the basic plot, and it benefits by mostly terrific casting especially Crudup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson and the perfect Jackie Earle Haley. But Malin Akerman is barely a passable actress as eye-candy in formulaic comedies (The Heartbreak Kid re-make, 27 Dresses) and she proves how incredibly limited she is here. To accommodate the criteria of cramming it into less than three hours of movie too much of the texture and scope had to be excised in favor of the violence and sex parts. The darkness is there, but without more of the depth the satirical political aspects come off as pretty hollow and even unintentionally laughable. In many ways I don't think Snyder and company really adapted it to the medium of film as they were so busy being reverential to the imagery of the book that they didn't find enough ways to make it of the source material but also let it be its own film. In many ways I think James McTeigue's V for Vendetta was more successful in the changes it made than Watchmen is in its mostly slavishly adherence to the bits they highlighted.

But for those who could give a crap about the comics and are going in cold just to see Watchmen as a movie experience, I suppose it'll be visually overwhelming, darker and more brutal than you might guess, and a theatrical experience that you'll remember whether or not you get all of what is going on or care at all about any of the characters. It's a spectacle, to be sure, but I don't think it's much more than that. Certainly better than the visual-only exercise of 300, but considering the source material not as much as it should have been.

GRADE: B-

*and in the midnight screening I actually felt old. I don't usually notice and certainly don't obsess on such things, but sitting there surrounded by a nearly sold-out audience of which the vast majority were not even born when the comics debuted...I felt old. I was sixteen when I started anxiously and wonderously grabbing up each new issue of Watchmen, which dovetailed with the release of Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns from earlier in the year and being the first comics I read that really went beyond simplistic superhero mags into true literature. I didn't feel this old when seeing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull even though most of that midnight audience wasn't born when Last Crusade debuted much less Raiders. Oh, well.

And get the HELL off of my lawn.