Posted by The Lam | Mar 19, 2009
Who Watches the Watchmen? I watches it!!

So after 2 decades of trying to get The Watchmen on the screen, they finally did it.

I read the comics a number of times in the past and grew more fond of it after every read, so I was really anticipating this movie... sort of. Actually as the release date crept closer and closer, I almost decided not to see it at all, in fear that I would end up disappointed in the end. I knew that the source material was just too layered and dense to be transferred properly into a 2.5 hour movie. And so I feared.

Well, in the end I can say that I came out of it not gravely disappointed... but nor was I thoroughly impressed. I saw a movie, that's all I can truly say.

Director Zack Snyder was given the reins after the success of his efforts on The 300. It was a testesterone-filled action epic, but one criticized for being too much style over substance (a criticism that would become commonplace to his work).

The main story is in essence a murder mystery taking place in the 80's revolving around superheroes. It takes place in a bizzaro-world earth, where Richard Nixon is in his umpteenth term as the president, where the US won the Vietnam war and at a point in time where the Russians are at a heated point in the nuclear arms race. It is a time in history where superheroes are outlawed and considered vigilantes and so many of the former heroes live again as civilians. Rorschach, a hero who refuses to live in hiding, investigates the murder of his former companion The Comedian. Along the way, he meets up with his former teammates: Dr. Manhattan, Silk Spectre II, Nite Owl and the millionaire playboy, Ozymandias. As Rorschach digs deeper and deeper into the mystery, he uncovers more than he was looking for. (That's as short as I can get it to and it doesn't do it justice.)

As you can hopefully tell, there is a lot of ground to cover, with trying to cover plot as well as introducing us to the characters. The main problem I have with the movie is the pacing. They suffer from the same problem that TNA Impact does every week: cramming in too much stuff within the allotted time. I read other fan reviews that complained that it felt too hollow and I completely agree. We're not given enough story on the main players to give a shit about them. It's all plot, plot, plot!

And really, that's the main thing that disappointed me. There are a lot of the relationships, histories and substories are only hinted at, marginalized or omitted all together. I understand that they were trying to fit the story in under 3 hours, so I can forgive Snyder for this. But what is cool for those who are more familiar with the comics is all the little easter eggs he hides in the background or in certain shots. He doesn't get a chance to explore them but he teases the viewer with these short glimpses.

Fanboys around have been complaining about the change to the ending, but after watching it, I personally have no problem with it. Here's why. [Spoiler Inviso-Text (highlite to reveal): Ultimately, Ozymandias is revealed as the culprit behind the whole fiasco. His point in doing all this was to bring world peace in a world with such high tensions. In the comicbook version, he fakes an alien invasion to destroy half of New York City, with the hopes that the world would unite together on this common issue and drop the arms race altogether. A lot is pinned on to Dr. Manhattan because he does have the power to stop it from happening altogether, but decides that Ozymandias is right, it has to happen to reclaim peace. The movie version takes a different approach. Ozymandias and Manhattan have been working on free energy projects situated in key cities around the world. However, these projects were actually atomic bombs in disguise. He triggers their explosions and millions die around the world. Manhattan's signature is attached to these explosions, so the world blames him that it was his plan all along. Manhattan decides to leave the galaxy altogether.

I am fine with all of this because basically it gives more of a legit reason for Dr. Manhattan to not return to earth than it did in the comic version. And having destruction across the world seems like a better way of unifying the world, than just an isolated attack on New York.]

In terms of the acting, with the exception of Malin Ackerman (Silk Spectre II), I thought that it was topnotch all around. Everyone was perfectly casted especially Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach), Matthew Goode (Ozymandias) and Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl). I know people gave shit for Goode's performance but I just know that were he given more screen time, he would have been fine. What he did worked for me anyways.

The scoring by Snyder regular Tyler Bates is excellent. However, they decided to add an absurd soundtrack throughout the film which ruined his work. I know they were trying to make it feel like the 80's, but it didn't help that tracks from the 70's and before it were used (where's Huey Lewis and the News or Flock of Seagulls?!!? Come on!). Needless to say, there were some moments that were ruined by these poor song choices.

Snyder really nails down the tone of the movie; it's gritty, violent and beautiful all at the same time. The artistic style and all the special effects were really well done. They did a good job of making everything look good on screen. That said, I can't honestly say that there were any memorable scenes in it. It's the case of style over substance. Snyder focused too much on transferring the artistic style from the comic book panels to the screen but forgetting to bring in the heart with them. When I compare it to The Dark Knight (let's face it, TDK set the bar as far as comic book movies go), the last time I watched it was 5 months ago, and off the top of my head I could think of at least 5 memorable scenes. It's only been a few days since I watched The Watchmen and I can't say the same... it's just another movie.

So in the end, this movie was fine, but I'm going to guess that in 10 years, this movie will not come up in conversation but The Dark Knight still will. If you haven't already, try and read the comics before you see the movie. I realize that it might be too late now, but on the offchance that you haven't seen either, you'd be doing yourself a favour. Later geeks.

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