Reviews & Previews - Watchmen

Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 06:00 PM


By: S. Tran

Starring: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson,
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Running Time: 163 minutes
Rated: R

Death By Hype

I feel bad for Zack Snyder, the director of Watchmen. The guy is obviously a talented director and The 300 was one of those movies that broke the envelope stylistically. Like many fans I was curious how he was going to handle Watchmen, a comic book story that apparently was so good comic geeks all over have a Pavlovian drool response whenever you mention it. Hell, this was the comic book that actually won a Hugo award for science fiction. There was no way he was going to live up to that kind of hype but he gave it a good try.

I have actually never read the original comic (I refuse to call them graphic novels) but I had heard many things about it. One of the things I heard was that it was supposedly unfilm-able and that there was a giant squid at the end of the original comic that was left out of the movie. After seeing the film I have to wonder whether the squid should have been left in.

Watchmen centers around a group of superheros who have retired due to a law banning masked crime fighters. When one of the heroes, the Comedian (Morgan) is killed, another hero, Rorschach (Haley), begins to investigate the murder. While this is going on Dr. Manhattan (Crudup) is busy being all blue and naked while he ignores his girlfriend Jupiter (Akerman).

Visually the movie is great to watch. Snyder has a great eye for style and the opening title sequence of the movie showing the progression of the superheros over the years was really well done and set an interesting mood for the film. As a matter of fact I wonder if the movie would have been better if it had focused on the older generation of heroes rather than the current crop.

Part of the problem with this movie is that it lacks any sense of fun. Even the recent Batman movies with all the talk about how dark they are still retained some sense of fun. After all, we are dealing with costumed superheroes. Instead all we get are depressing origin stories and Dr. Manhattan's private parts. I totally get the fact the the comic book dealt with some serious issues and that it was the comic that helped re-define what comics could be. But it just felt so dark and oppressive all the way through, maybe the squid was suppose to provide some comic relief.

Leaving aside the fun though the story itself didn't really come together. If you are taking a story which is supposed to be one of the smartest comic stories ever written then you better make sure the screen play is equally intelligent. The trouble is, for all the big talk in the film about the true nature of humans and the past and future the story takes a strange turn at the end that I found was somehow disconnected from what had been going on previously.

This is a good movie, it is not a great movie. It is visually excellent, well choreographed and scored. However it can't live up to people's expectations.


3 out of 5 stars.


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