07 March 2009

Watchmen (Film)

Adapting the most highly acclaimed graphic novel of all time is a rather daunting thing. Zack Snyder has already proved himself with 300, showing that he can be very faithful to the source and put out an entertaining film. The problem with 300 was Frank Miller wrote it, and mostly for that reason it was a hollow straight-forward sex/violence fest. Snyder was faithful to that, and a lot of people loved him for it. Watchmen is not hollow in any sense of the word, and I'm not sure Snyder did the greatest job transferring that substance to the screen, but you can definitely tell he made an effort, and I think what came out of it satisfied my expectations.

The sad fact is that no matter how faithful an adaptation it is, the hardcore fanboys are already nitpicking it to death. Yes, there are a few minor details (and one rather large and squishy one) that were removed or changed, but not resulting in any major derailing from the spirit of the graphic novel. This, like 300 and Sin City is very obviously based on one; the visuals are beautifully stylized with a similar color scheme to the source, many frames are directly modeled on panels from the comic, and the delivery of the actors' lines don't sound like anything anyone would actually say in real life; they sound like they were read from the pages of Alan Moore's genius story.

As a movie in itself, I don't think I can give an objective assessment. My gut feeling is that it is largely too confusing to be appealing to most new audiences, and I've been reading quite a few one-line reviews citing the lack of non-stop action. I thought there was just enough action, and I was actually surprised at the brutality of it all. This is very much an R-rated film, and I love it for that. It's good violence too. There is one scene in particular that is very reminiscent of a certain scene from the Korean masterpiece Oldboy, although it doesn't quite hit the same genius level of cinematography.

I don't really want to nitpick, but I think some of the music selections (while great in themselves) might not have fit as well in context as Snyder or whoever had hoped they would. Most people who've seen it seem to agree with me here. Still, altogether it sounded pretty powerful.

Of course the most important part of the movie is Rorschach, and he was perfect. For that reason it gets 5/5 from me. Go watch it, just don't bring your kids. Or your mom, probably.