Posts Tagged ‘watchmen’

Watchmen: Review’d

March 7, 2009

So, what you want to know is: has Zack Snyder screwed up? Or is Watchmen as intense, exhilarating, mesmerising, and mindblowing an experience as the graphic novel?

The answer to the first question is a resounding “no”! The answer to the second is a qualified “yes”.

watchmen-dr-manhattan

The film exceeded my expectations in so many ways: from the magnificently realised introduction to Watchmen’s alternate universe set to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They are a-Changin'” to the meticulous attention to detail in the backstories of all the characters. The flashbacks to Vietnam are there; the Minutemen; Dr. Manhattan’s genesis; the Comedian’s visit to Moloch; the first meeting of the Watchmen… The list goes on. For a fan, there are so many neat touches, including one or two things that I’d forgotten since my last read-through.

But it’s not all about a frame-for-frame remake of the comic – although there are a lot of scenes that are ported over to the movie pretty much verbatim. Incredibly, the pace doesn’t drag at all. Snyder ensures that the story and characters which are the heart of the novel drive the film too. You can tell there’s soul in this – it’s not just a clinical remake.

Billy Crudup’s performance as Dr. Manhattan is as detached yet troubled as you’d hope. Jeffrey Dean Morgan invests the Comedian with lashings of amoral glee, yet still manages to conjure empathy from the viewer. Some of the casting decisions are less stellar, however: Malin Akerman as Laurie Juspeczyk and, more crucially, Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt come to mind. But Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach is inspired. He delivers a note-perfect performance, particularly during the jail sequence as Walter Kovacs, when he screams ominously, “You don’t understand: I’m not locked in here with you; you’re locked in here with me!”

watchmen-comedian

It’s worth mentioning that it’s a brutal experience, both in terms of film length – at 2 hours 45 minutes it’s longer than your average blockbuster – and graphic violence. I remember the novel pulled no punches, and neither does this. Be prepared for severed arms, people on fire, meat cleavers buried in skulls, broken legs… The UK 18-rated certificate isn’t for nothing; Watchmen is not for the faint of heart.

So is it as good as the novel? Well, not quite. I had a couple of issues with the film version of Watchmen which, for me, prevented it from attaining perfection – but, let’s be clear, it came pretty damn close.

The stylised action sequences were a little too, er, comic book for my liking. I felt that the Watchmen came across as a little too strong, too fast, and, most of all, they could take too much punishment. You’ll regularly see heads being used to smash toilets, walls, doors. You name it, during the course of the film one or more of the Watchmen will get thrown through it or against it. And then they’ll get up again to take some more. It’s all a little bit Matrix for me, and it’s here that Watchmen loses some of the grittiness that makes it so compelling.

watchmen-smiley

The other issue was the ending. Now, I’m of the opinion that screenwriters David Hayter and Alex Tse made a good call to ditch the giant alien squid ending of the novel. For one, it requires yet more build up and exposition which would have increased the running time even further. It’s also probably – gasp – a little bit surreal for the kind of film that Watchmen is. And maybe a bit unbelievable. The ending that they chose made more sense in the context of the story, but I felt it lacked a little bit of the horror of the original version.

In the graphic novel, Manhattan and Laurie return to earth to be greeted with page upon page of silent devastation – not buildings, but people. Millions of dead bodies with the buildings (mostly) completely intact. In the film, there’s nothing left except a crater and I don’t think it lingers long enough to let the true horror of what’s taken place sink in. It’s a lot less personal than the novel. It’s just: on to the next act – let’s take down Adrian!

Neither the ending nor the stylised fight scenes are enough to prevent me from wholeheartedly recommending this film though. It’s been 20 odd years in development hell, and there are a few missteps here, but it’s been worth it for the near-masterpiece that Snyder has produced. See it.

Watchmen Less Than A Week Away!

February 28, 2009

That’s right, and my anticipation has reached fever pitch!

It seems crazy to think that it was almost 11 months ago that I blogged about the upcoming Watchmen adaption, and here it is just around the corner.

Reviews are already coming in thick and fast – the film had its UK premiere at Leicester Square on 23rd February. To say that they’re “mixed” would be an understatement. Although the Rotten Tomatoes meter currently stands at 81%, I don’t think that tells the full story: many of the reviews point to Zack Snyder’s dogged insistence on sticking to the source material as one of the things holding Watchmen back from being a truly great film. But this is surely a case of “damned if you do…” for Snyder who, as a fan of the comic book, knows more than anyone what the reaction would’ve been if he’d made significant changes or cuts. And that doesn’t stop longtime Watchmen fanboy Michael Moran from gushing all over the movie in his Times blog review:

Watchmen is a watershed moment in comic book action. It’s the movie where, if you’ll forgive me, things went from juvenile to Juvenal. If you’ve read the book, see it. If you haven’t, see it twice.

All that said, I’m still psyched about seeing it on the 6th March when it’s out officially in the UK.

And if you need more hype, how about checking out some of the clips posted on imdb and youtube. I particularly like the Dr Manhattan ones:

Watchmen: 11 Months To Go

April 6, 2008

The clock is ticking…

Watchmen smiley

According to the official blog over at Warner Bros., there’s just under one year to go until Zack Snyder’s film version of the “unfilmable” Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons masterpiece, Watchmen, hits the screens:

Watchmen – One Year To Midnight

6th March 2009 is the magic date all the fans are waiting for – and the great news is that it’s a global release date (well, apart from cinema-goers in Norway, Spain and Belgium who have to wait another week, but who’s counting?), so we get to see it in the UK at the same time as the US.

Watchmen charactersTo be honest, my hopes for the film have been marooned somewhere between low and zero since I’d read all the stories of development hell back in the nineties and early 2000s. When I heard about Snyder‘s involvement (he of 300 and Dawn of the Dead remake fame), I became very worried; Watchmen deserves so much more than amazing visuals and a heavy metal backing track.

However, having read parts of Snyder’s official blog on the movie – particularly Dave Gibbons’ comments about his visits to the set – my expectations have been well and truly raised.

Now that filming is finished, a year (!?!) of post-production work begins, so we’re not likely to hear a great deal of new information during that time. My impressions of the casting are mixed: on the positive side, most of the major characters from the graphic novel are present and correct – including minor players like Big Figure – and I like the way that Snyder’s avoided using really big names. However, it’s going to be really difficult to get people like Rorschach spot on. In fact, I was watching The Thin Red Line the other day and, during one of the many monologues, it struck me how perfect Nick Nolte‘s voice would have been for Rorschach…

Rorschach - Watchmen

The big question mark still hangs over how they’re going to fit the epic alternative-history storyline into the ~2 hours running time. Some reports suggest that fans might have to wait until the DVD release to get the full experience – possibly including the Black Freighter sub-story as anime, voice by Gerard Butler!