Watchmen – Review

A big existential question without even discussing the plot.

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Director: Zack Snyder
Notable Cast: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson

In some ways it is a shame that Watchmen creator Alan Moore will likely never see the film adaptation of his classic story. Director Zack Snyder gets all the little things right while adding a flavor all his own and still remaining as faithful to the source material as can be expected. Many said Watchmen couldn’t be filmed, with Moore being the most vocal detractor, but Snyder has shown his considerable talent for bringing graphic novels to the big screen once again.

However, just because Watchmen in fact could be filmed does not mean it necessarily should have been filmed. The differences between the movie and the source material are readily apparent and easy to defend, but on the flipside it is not difficult to see why Moore is rubbed the wrong way by the whole affair.

Fans of the graphic novel will already know the alterations and will have decided how they feel about them while those being introduced to the Watchmen won’t know what they are missing. Most of what is omitted is done so that the movie’s runtime is, mercifully, under three hours, but those cuts do take away from the epic feel of the original story. Truthfully, the story is best told on paper where one can take time to absorb the dense material as well as perhaps take a breather for a while.

As a film, Watchmen is a total barrage of the senses that comes as close as I have ever seen to taking a comic and putting it directly on screen with no filter. I could almost see the word bubbles above the characters’ heads. That is a testament both to Snyder’s loyalty to Moore’s work as well as Moore’s all-encompassing cinematic vision. That Moore thought Watchmen was unfilmable emphasizes the singularity of his vision.

It is obvious why an artist would not want to see any reinterpretations of a masterpiece so completely realized, but if someone has to tinker with your work Snyder is the man to do it. Surprisingly, what stands out the most in Watchmen is Snyder’s subtle touches. His choice of music is outstanding and adds to the story in ways only available to cinema. His now trademark stop-motion action also adds to comic book come to life vibe.

Still, some may call it heresy, but when Snyder lets the plot take over and drops his style into the background Watchmen becomes quite dull and sags for the middle portion. Incidentally, this is the part of the graphic novel that is buffered by the most subplots and side stories.

The movie picks up again at the end, but I had lost interest at that point, especially since I knew the ending of the movie was not the same as the book. While not drastically altered, the end reeks of skeptical producers thinking the original ending was too hokey. The altered ending would be more of a sticking point if Watchmen had maintained its momentum throughout, but it becomes completely tedious and faithfulness to source material starts losing the fight against bloated run time.

If the mission was to put Watchmen on film, why not go all the way? But then if it were exactly like the source material, then there would be no reason for the movie to exist at all. It seems we are back to pondering the question: If something can be done, does that mean it ought to be?


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