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Watchmen (Zack Snyder)

"Is It Worth The Wait?"

It's always hard to review films that are based on previous works, such as books, or in this case a graphic novel. The problem is that people want to always bring the most popular books to life on the big screen and it ultimately disappoints a lot of people because it's from a different vision then their own. This is why movies based on books not a lot of people have read are always good and ones that are based on big popular ones are mostly bad. Of course there are the few exceptions.

I think it goes without saying that the film would never be as good as the book. It's a statement that is so obvious that I'm surprised I'm even stating it here. In reviewing a film based of said literature, one should make the distinction of not really comparing the two. It's simply not fair. Comparisons will rise, no doubt, but the two mediums are vastly different. With books, you can go anywhere, do anything, nothing is limited. Film on the other hand, has so many limitations that it feels like it should be viewed in a category on it's own. You can only do so much with an actual camera, but with your imagination the limitations are endless. This is why I'll be reviewing the film and try not to compare it to the Graphic Novel.

So, where to begin? It's taken decades for this unfilmable epic to make it to the big screen, so a pat on the back to Synder and the crew for finally making it happen. He has done with other directors couldn't. Granted, we now have the technology to bring these things to life, something we did not have way back then. Even so, Snyder has proven himself to be a competent director, his last two films have been both financially and critically successful. Did he do a good job bringing Watchmen to the screen. I guess as good as it could of possibly been.

The film is a pretty accurate depiction of the novel, the changes that were made I had no opposition to. Things were obviously left out, some things I knew would be gone, some things I hoped would make it in. The film clocks in at 2 hours and 45 minutes, so it may seem like it will drag in places and near the end it does. Whenever Dr. Manhattan was on the screen, I was so happy. He was a marvel in the book and here as well. Every time he was on the screen I was glued to it, could not look away. Although, when on Mars when he is discussing he feelings with humanity, I found myself slightly bored. Which is a shame because it is a pivotal moment in the film. Billy Crudup plays a character devoid of any emotion. He pulls it off. I enjoyed his performance. During the trailer I was upset with his voice, but during the film I did not mind it. I loved his eyes and every little turn of his head.

Malin Akerman on the other hand has gotten a lot of flack for her performance and I say it was because the character isn't even likable. I found her annoying and whiny, here she just seems boring. No connection to Manhattan, but more importantly Dan. I just did not really buy their relationship on screen. She does look beautiful in (and out) of that suit though and can kick some ass. Speaking of Dan, Night Owl is two characters. A kickass superhero and an overweight man who needs his glasses to see. Wilson captured both pretty well. His nervousness is there and I thought he brought that character to life. The one casting spot the fans seemed to hate the most, I enjoyed quite a bit. Matthew Goode did a decent job here, much to my surprise, even though I expected him to not be as bad as people were saying.

Both Jackie Earle Haley and Jeffrey Dean Morgan play the psychopaths in this flick. Morgan shows his stuff in the characters flashbacks, aging from a young arrogant bastard, to an old crying slob. After his introduction and flashback scenes he has nothing else to do with the film and I wanted to see more of his sorry ass. Haley was the highlight of the film for me. What a badass character he gets to play, with the mask on and off. He pulled it off extremely well.

Why oh why did the make-up department fail so badly though? Looking at Silk Spectre in her old age was horrible. She looks like she had play dough rubbed on her face, Nixon too. Even The Comedian to an extent, whose fight sequence went on a tad too long. Punching through walls, really?

The soundtrack was spot on, maybe too spot on for some, but I dug it. The film's highlight, other than Dr. Manhattan's origins telling, is the fantastic montage opening credits to the tune of Bob Dylan. I loved it. Couldn't get enough of it. It immediately sets you in this alternate universe and you know the history. Pick up the soundtrack, I know I will.

The film looks beautiful, no question . Sin City had it's own atmosphere, as did 300 and now Watchmen. I just didn't sit there and see this world they were living in, I felt a part of it. I loved the blue of Manhattan glowing everywhere, I loved the neon signs and the gritty streets.

Some parts did have the Zack Snyder stamp all over them, most notably the prison scene in which Night Owl and Spectre II fight off some prisoners down the corridor. Just seemed like 300 all over again to me. I did enjoy Rorschach kicking ass though. His pacing was a bit off as well, in the Graphic Novel I felt that they left out Adiran a lot, which is exactly what the film does as well, much to my dismay. His choice to have the characters seem more super than human was also a bit weird. This was most noticeable in the climax when characters are bouncing off solid objects and nothing really seems to happen to them.

A lot of the core themes and elements were sort of lost to me in the translation. Viewers will get lost in the gorgeousness of it and might miss the smaller parts that really make Watchmen what it is. These characters are not super at all, they all have problems. I feel that many people will miss this, the film kind of did. For instance, my friend who knew nothing about the graphic novel (he gave the film a 6/10) asked me why the black kid and the old fat guy were hugging at the end before the explosion. Seeing them was nothing more then a wink and a nod to the people who read the novel, no one else knew who the hell they were. Give me more little things with the main characters. Rorschach is suppose to be the psychopath, yet he seems to be the only one with a level head on his shoulders most of the time.

In the end, the film is a good adaptation of the book. I enjoyed it on it's own merits and on the comparison
to the source material. So I guess they did something right with that one. I guess my small complaints are ones that fans seem to have, more needed with the core characters. I really wanted more on Kovacs back story. I wanted to see him make the mask dammit. At times it tries to be brilliant, like the novel, but it doesn't come off like that. I wanted the entire film to be brilliant, but ended up with an entertaining movie that I would love to watch over again and again.