Considering that Alan Moore’s Watchmen was believed unfilmmable. Director Zach Snyder has done a sterling job in bringing Moore’s influential graphic novel to the big screen. Snyder worked with comic book scribe Frank Miller on 300 and has gone to similar lengths to be as faithful to the source material here.
It’s New York City in 1985, President Richard Nixon has been elected to the White House for the third time on the strength of victory in Vietnam. The world is on the brink of nuclear war, and a group of costumed vigilantes, who became outlawed in 1977, remember the good old days when they could mete out justice unregulated.
It was partly the shock of seeing so-called costumed heroes rape, do drugs and commit adultery that arguably changed the face of comics forever. But most of all Watchmen questioned what type of Machiavellian mindset would allow someone to believe that they could do-good by dressing up in costumes and fighting crime.
Classic pulp dialogue has been kept word for word and some of the camera angles are exactly the same as the animated drawings. Essentially Snyder has filmed the comic book, with the exception of a slightly changed ending and the loss of a ‘pirate prologue’ (that will apparently appear on the DVD).
Snyder’s film has one major failing and several minor ones that will prevent it being as well loved as the graphic novel. For starters the clichéd music choices are jarring and unbearable, so much so that they continually take the viewer out of the movie. The performance of Malin Ackerman as Laurie/Silk Spectre II misfires, especially in the scenes with Dr Manhattan (Billy Crudup) on Mars, which call for greater emotional resonance. The new ending has its plusses but sadly there is less ambiguity and a far greater faith in humanity than was in the original text. However, even with this failings, Watchmen is still atmospheric and entertaining.
General release, Fri 6 Mar.