Thursday, March 12, 2009

Who watched the Watchmen?

Me, thats who. In an earlier post I mentioned how I considered it sacrosanct and unfilmable, how any filmed work could never do the source material justice, blah de blah de blah. Well, it would appear to be a monumental day indeed because it's a day that the "Things David has got wrong" notice board gets another entry. This takes the noticeboard up to 17 items now.

There are going to be spoilers in this review by the way, so if you haven't seen it yet, don't fucking blame me. Go and see it.

Zack Snyder (previously of the way-better-than-remakes-should-ever-be Dawn of the Dead remake and the juvenile but beautiful 300) has done a brilliant job of capturing not only the essence of the source material but also gone some considerable way of replicating its look and style. I've owned the graphic novel since 1985 and its worn out cover and pages are testament to how many times I've read it - Looking at again, it's clear that Snyder has almost used the comics as a storyboard - many scenes are identically framed and paced.

From the opening scenes with the death of the Comedian and the utterly fantastic opening credits - (I can't wait for the DVD release just to watch the credits again, they really are that amazing - Even having Bob Dylan singing over the top of them didn't annoy - thats how good they are) - I was transfixed. I was still prepared for a let down though; I remember being transfixed in Judge Dredd at the opening shots of Mega City One, but we all know how shit that ended up.

It's a long film, but it's a long book. The screenplay does a brilliant job of weeding out elements that seemed critical in the comics at the time (The origin of how Rorscach got his distinctive - and brilliantly realised in the film, by the way - mask, the Police interviewing Dan Dreiberg and subsequently raiding his apartment and discovering his true identity, etc) but would have slowed the pacing of the film and been quite unnecessary.

Kudus to Jackie Earle Haley for his portrayal of Rorscach - Exactly as I imagined him in the comics. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson (who I'd seen before in the excellent Hard Candy) as The Comedian and Nite Owl are also pitch-perfect performances. The only real let down was Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre 2 - a dreadful piece of acting. She seemed completely incapable of conveying any emotion whatsoever - more wooden than the scenery.

From the trailers and clips I didn't think Doctor Manhattan would work - However, 90% of the time he's an absolute triumph. The only genuine superhuman in the film, his origin tale (however cliched - scientist gets super powers by an accident at work) is spot on. I have always personally felt that there aren't enough glowing blue penises in films, and Watchmen goes some way to redress that balance.

Bad points? An unnecessary and quite embarassing sex scene towards the final third of the film that all seems a bit gratuitous for my liking, and the fake prosthetic nose on Nixon made him look a spitting image version of himself - but thats pretty much all the criticism I can muster.

The ending has been changed somewhat from the comics, but if anything I think this new ending makes more sense. I don't think the original would have worked on the film - If anything it would seem a little far-fetched and out of touch with the realism the film is trying to convey. We've already accepted Doctor Manhattans powers - a faked alien invasion would have seemed a little out of place. If anything it gives greater justification for Jon deciding to leave Earth permanently as well.

So, I was wrong. Watchmen deserves a hearty nine and half smily blood spattered badges out of 10.3 smily blood spattered badges. It's not perfect, but it's damn close.

..and the accompanying picture for this review? Look here. The second picture was made by yours truly.



    glad you liked the film!
    now you don't have to wait for the dvd


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