Last night, I went out and saw Watchmen
, and I have to say that I have enjoyed it, for what it's worth. Even so, I went in with pretty low expectations, but I still liked it a bit all the same. However, as a movie, it's nothing on par with say, Iron Man or The Dark Knight (maybe because they didn't have to adapt a specific story?), and while it would obviously lose something in translation, it still felt like we lost bit too much of the original comic to make it a truly great film worthy of the original graphic novel.
I'd be afraid of spoiling the movie for all of you, but then again, you've probably already read the book... did'ja?
One good thing I can say about the comic is that in the sense of sticking to the source material, it does that fabulously well, as well as it could be done when you carry the novel alongside you at all times and have the original artist on speed dial. Many of the stuff from the novel makes it to the screen: the Gunga Diner balloons, Veidt's Nostalgia, the tragedy of Dollar Bill and Mothman... And many of the cast manage to nail the characters they're playing, especially Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Edward Blake) and Jackie Earl Haley (Rorschach). And Billy Crudup is really good as Doctor Manhattan, managing to get a lot of character out of Manhattan's seemingly blank face. As an adaptation, it's extremely faithful in vision and in style.
The problem is, the film is not as faithful in spirit as it is in style. I really only noticed it when I realised that some of the pretty awesome stuff that Rorschach does in the comic aren't in the film: I was really disappointed when his flashback disposed of his Mad Max moment with the hacksaw, or him surprising Moloch in the fridge. It's a geeky thing sure, but it still is a major tripping point, because I started thinking about that, the film's veneer pretty much cracked and I found myself staring at geek cotton candy.
Snyder's direction is still very mired in the slow-motion and flying blood of 300
, and it shows up quite a bit throughout the film. Stylised graphic violence and flashy fight scenes are abound, flying across the screen in beautiful slow-motion to kick you across the face. However, there doesn't seem to be anything underneath. The film seems to be playing everything out, sticking to the novel's style, but never seems to gain any depth or gravitas, no matter the amount of great acting that's on screen, or how faithful the story is to the novel. Instead, everything just feels flat and plastic, which coincidentally how I thought a couple of the actors looked in the film.
As for the ending... I guess there's only one problem I have with it: Doctor Manhattan never gets to tell Veidt that "Nothing ever ends". Laurie says it instead, in one of the cheesiest manners in narrative cinema possible. Considering the reaction I heard from other C-bloggers and critics like Mark Kermode, I think maybe they're still right. read