One of the most heavily anticipated films of the year is unquestionably Watchmen. But it has a lot going against it. It’s not a typical superhero film – if you’re expecting another Iron Man, you’ll be sorely disappointed. And it’s dark – REAL dark. This isn’t the feel-good movie of the year.
The biggest hurdle, though, is that it’s adapted from a much-beloved graphic novel (translation: comic book series later put in book form). Many, many fans are out there who have been drooling over Alan Moore’s modern masterpiece for years – it’s been quoted as being the inspiration for many things the geeks adore – Lost, for example. So the biggest question becomes – how well does the movie live up to its antecedent?
The answer is quite well, actually. Reviewing the film afterward with ScottE and Joyous, we marveled at how much was left in the movie – everything from The Comedian’s brutal murder all the way to many, many shots of Dr. Manhattan’s big blue…um…y’know. (Note: NOT a kids’ film.) Some critics have argued that the film is too closely tied to the book to make a satisfying film. I have to disagree – I think it was quite satisfying, but I do recognize that for those who haven’t read the book (or have no interest in doing so), it will leave them feeling a bit hollow.
Now, for you hard core fans out there I’ll warn you – the ending was changed significantly. As a non-spoilerish hint, I’ll just say that the big attack is not aquatic. But some minor changes at the end did irk me a bit. Did we really need to see Patrick Wilson giving a gratuitous “NOOOOOO!!!!” in Antarctica? I think not.
On the flip side I have nothing but praise for the opening credits, which are stylishly shot. In those few minutes, director Zack Snyder managed to cram in about 50 pages of material from the book, which was impressive indeed. Silhouette fans will be pleased.
As for the acting, I think it’s pretty good, although most scenes are so brief and shift to action, that you’re not really mining for award-worthy material here. And yet, Jackie Earle Haley is positively a revelation as Rorschach, the tortured anti-hero. He fully inhabits the role to the point that you believe he was born just to play this character! I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a few comparisons between him and a certain recent posthumous Oscar winner.
Overall I enjoyed the film very much – I give it an A-. But for non-fans and the book-disinterested, I suggest you steer clear.