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I’m Watching The Watchmen

March 7th, 2009

"There is no future. There is no past. There is only my large, blue penis."

So, I’ve seen Watchmen. And really, I don’t think anyone has cause for complaint about the adaptation. Well, except for the ten-year-old a couple of seats down from me whose idiot father took him to see the superhero film. That kid’s gonna have problems. 

I don’t believe anyone could reasonably expect a better Watchmen film. That’s not to say that it’s the best. movie. ever. Just that it’s unlikely that anyone else would ever have made one with more fidelity to the source material. Just imagine what could’ve been. We could’ve had the Joel Silver version with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Manhattan. Consider that for a moment, then give director Zack Snyder his due.

Admittedly, it’s been a few years since I’ve read the book, but aside from some supporting characters and a certain squid, I don’t recall any significant deletions.* And, let’s face it, the squid was never gonna make the cut. Honestly, I think the film’s alternative to the Psychic Calamari of Doom makes more sense, both logically and thematically.

I’ve got a few small criticisms. The acting’s…well, okay. While I’m pleased that for the most part Snyder avoided casting familiar names, I feel that some of the performers were chosen more for their resemblence to the original drawings than for their thespian skills. 

The violence is also a bit much. My friend Tim, who has one of the filthiest minds I know (and I mean that as a good thing), seemed to blanch at some of the “hard R” mayhem on display. I suspect that the translation from comic to motion picture accounts for some of the grue; drawings depict isolated moments in time, but a film sequence by its very nature includes many more such images.

At the end of the day, I think that Watchmen was a very faithful retelling of a story that wasn’t all that much fun to begin with. It’s telling that the nearly all of the humor comes from the darkest of all the Watchmen, the psychopathic Rorschach.

Yet–and yes, I realize that a sequel is entirely beyond the point–I have to admit that I kinda want to see the further adventures of Nite Owl and Silk Spectre. If only to watch Alan Moore spin in his beard.

*The pirate comic that runs in parallel to the novel’s main narrative is also excised, but they’ve made an animated version for DVD that almost certainly will be edited back into some future, five-hour director’s cut.

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