Daily Archives: March 14, 2009

Review: Watchmen

Watchmen broke ground as a comic book/graphic novel. The movie was extremely faithful, with few exceptions, to the book. Is that a good thing?

Going in to this film, I thought, “I hope they don’t stray too far from the book.” They didn’t. There were things removed for the sake of time, but for the most part everything that was in the movie came from the book. It was probably the most faithful retelling of a story as I’ve seen. And that’s why it failed.

I’m willing to devote a lot more time to a book’s attention to side stories. They’ve got time to develop them, and even to bring the side story into the central plot. In a film, you gotta stick to the core story with almost laser focus. Move the action forward at all times. It’s a rare film that can successfully explore the ancillary without losing itself.

A lot was cut from the book to make this movie. But it wasn’t cut nearly enough.

Also, there was a lot more graphic gore in this movie than was in the book. And that’s saying something.

For the most part, this film lost my wife by the end of the opening credits montage over “The Times They Are  a’Changing” by Bob Dylan. That whole piece was in there mostly for the fans. While it had some use in setting us in the bleak, depressive world of the film, it just went on too long and was too disjointed for the uninitiated.

The sex scenes were just boring, not to mention unnecessary. At least 2 couples walked out of the showing during these scenes and never returned. Whether they left because they were offended or simply bored, I’m not sure, but I don’t blame them.

I could probably go on for hours about the little successes and downfalls that combined to make this overall not worth the time, but also not patently terrible … more forgettable than anything. But there are two things that I want to say in direct comparison to the graphic novel.

First, as I feared, they made the superheros a little more “super” than is conveyed in the book. In my previous post I talked about that a bit. The most obvious example of it is in many of the fight scenes where people are being thrown around rather cavalierly by punches and kicks or making leaps that humans just can’t make. Nite Owl slides a little into Batman territory with his ‘cape gliding’ ability. Kind of annoying.

On the positive side, however, I think the mechanism by which the ending is brought about  – the villain’s end-game – is better in the movie than in the book. I really think the movie made a good improvement in that category. Good job there.

Oh… one more thing. The use of music for this film was absolutely horrible. Seriously. Just bad, bad, song choices placed in entirely inappropriate scenes. Bad.

If they hadn’t felt compelled to stick so fanatically to the source material, I think this movie could have been made well and fit in approximately two hours – maybe a bit more – and not sacrificed the core story. Fanboys would have cried and wailed, but the movie would have been so much better.

Two and a half stars.