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Watchmen March 14, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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I was left with mixed feelings after watching this film. The Watchmen universe is intriguing. I haven’t read the graphic novel but I could sense that there was a lot that was left out of the film, especially the back stories of the characters that seemed to be very interesting. I wasn’t bored as I know some will be in the 166 minute film. I particularly enjoyed the visuals but I can’t say I that I fell in love with the film. It worked fine as a sort of a mystery film set in an alternate world but I am not going to recollect this film with fondness. I think I am getting ahead of myself. Lets backup a little.

Watchmen is considered by many as the greatest graphic novel (12 issues) ever and was also one of the Top 100 novels listed by Time (the only graphic novel to be on the list). Many thought that it was probably never going to be filmed due to the difficulty of bringing this rich and deep world to the screen in limited time (without considering the legal troubles it had to eventually face) but director Zack Snyder (300) and his team persevered and did what many famous directors before him could not. If you’ve got wind of the hype, you’ve probably heard all this and were just as excited as me to watch this.

Snyder and his team have certainly not failed. The film is well directed, carefully detailed and provides a superior visual experience. The cinematography and visual effects are assets and Snyder makes interesting use of the soundtrack. But the film is really about the characters, their conflicting moralities and crazy lives. This is the most interesting aspect of the film and it is the one thing could make me read the graphic novel but it is also the one thing that gets sacrificed due to the limits on screen time (yeah, 166 minutes ain’t enough).

However, the film isn’t very successful here. The characters that really play well in the film are Rorschach (played by Jackie Earle Haley) and The Comedian (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the actors playing them are the only ones that impress. In the Watchmen universe, Dr Manhattan (played by Billy Crudup) is the most important character and he says a lot of things that we probably need to think about but as a viewer, my mind was mostly focused on trying to understand everything rather than thinking. This character didn’t really work for me in the film. Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II and Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl II are also somewhat bland though they get considerable screen time.

This film isn’t for everyone. Those who wander into theaters thinking of this one as a superhero movie with lot of action will be disappointed. A long and serious look at life through the subtext in a fantasy crime mystery might just not be the thing that you were looking for. Whether this film is about hope or the depths to which we need to plumb to get it is not clear enough to me. As a film, Watchmen wasn’t particularly absorbing. This convoluted tale of twisted crime fighters might not be for those who haven’t read the graphic novel.

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Comments»

1. coffee - March 14, 2009

I kept thinking that the guy who played the Comedian was Javier Bardem (I found out later that it’s actually Jeffrey Dean Morgan), but the two actors definitely look alike

2. Shujath - March 30, 2009

I absolutely loved it!!! Having read so much about this movie for the last one year I was no doubt excited but I also had my own apprehensions for the following reasons.

First and foremost a lot was being said that this movie would be quite incomprehensible for someone who hasn’t read the graphic novel – This factor didn’t diminish my experience apart from wanting to know more about the backstories of the respective characters. Like you said some glimpses have been offered in the film but it wouldn’t hurt if there was more of it.

Another reason which kinda lowered my expectations from this film was because prior to booking my ticket the ad in the paper displayed this one with a ‘U’ certificate. Now who would want to watch a family friendly version of a true blue adult superhero movie! Thankfully, that turned out to be only a typo. And to my surprise apart from blurring out Mr. Manhattan’s full frontal shots (I didn’t quite get why he walks around naked…he does appear in suits for public appearances – so clothing shouldn’t kill him) everything seemed to have been retained (even the sex scenes) as per the original.

However, one factor almost came close to destroying my experience was the audience – who like I correctly guessed came in expecting some dumb kiddie flick like Fantastic 4; quite a few of them walked out much before the end and the rest couldn’t stop groaning.

Coming back to the film the thing which appealed to me most was the alternate world of Watchmen – beautifully introduced in the title sequence. The concept of an amoral superhero finally comes of age with this film.The visuals are brilliant and the score only heightens the impact. I came close to hating Zack Snyder’s previous venture – the overhyped 300 – which seemed to me like the trailer played continuously in repeat mode but Watchmen completely changed my perception of him as a director.

Watchmen easily exceeded all my expectations and this is surely an experience I’ll cherish for long. However if you’ve never heard of this flick before and are still planning to check it out – I would recommend against doing so.


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