Just how does the greatest graphic novel of all time translate to the big screen!
Screenplay By: David Hayter & Alex Tse
Directed By: Zack Snyder
The tact that is being taken with Watchmen is to compare it to the graphic novel in every way imaginable. How was it better, how was it worse, what was cut out, what was changed, etc., etc.. I have always viewed movie adaptations differently than most, I could care less about the source material as it relates to the film. The mediums of literature and film are two completely different mediums. I don’t judge one against the other and I don’t let my feelings on one influence my take on the other. So, for all those people out there who are viewing Watchmen the film and basing your feelings on your preconceived notions as gleaned from Watchmen the graphic novel, this won’t be the review for you.
Zack Snyder does not impress me very much as a director, I know that is a weird thing to say when I have liked every film of his. I happen to think that while a director is integral to a film, it is possible for a film to be great without the director being anything more than competent. Now, I would say that Snyder passes the level of competency because he has a knack for visuals and how to craft a fight scene. But, outside of the visual style he doesn’t bring anything signature to the table. In a weird way, his films transcend his own style, because the non-action scenes somehow end up being interesting despite Snyder not doing anything of interest with his camera.
The major complaint I have heard about Watchmen is that the acting is less than stellar. I don’t agree with that for a few reasons. Jackie Earle Haley is superb as Rorschach, playing menacing and insane, he is the villain in the form of a hero that you inevitably root for despite his abhorrent nature as a human being. He also shows Christian Bale how to actually do a gruff voice and sound believable. Patrick Wilson’s Nite Owl II is a favorite of mine because I have always associated more with the conflicted hero. The man who wants to be a hero but isn’t sure of his worthiness or if he has what it takes to handle the grind physically, emotionally or mentally. Wilson is the everyman, and in his face you see the insecurities and flaws that define the character. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is delectably evil as The Comedian, his was the performance I expected the least from and he certainly exceeded my expectations. The performance that seems to be getting the most ridicule is that of Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II. She wasn’t great in her role, but I found her to be good, nowhere near as bad as others have made her out to be. She is meant to be the fragile feminine who due to issues in her life can’t shake that stereotype and she pulls that off rather well.
Watchmen is a deep film, but it tackles so many issues that it never goes as deep into those issues as other films may have. At first I had issues with this, but then after thinking about the film more this became something I was perfectly content with. The main issue that Watchmen tackles for me is the idea of heroes in a world that doesn’t want them. This is a facet of hero based stories that I have always loved. The standard is the beloved hero, but I have always been more drawn to the unwanted hero. Watchmen operates on the auspice that its heroes aren’t wanted in any way, even when the world needs them the most. To go along with that it used the characters of Rorschach and The Comedian to explore the idea of reprehensible heroes. Everyone loves to view their heroes as better than they are, but what when they aren’t? What happens when the heroes are just as rotten as the rest of humanity? After that I was most taken by the mystery aspect, watching Rorschach as he tried to put together a mystery that no one else saw was very intriguing to me. Watchmen also touched on the themes of politics, peace, our inherent drive towards violence, war and bloodshed, and more. In some movies I haven’t connected with the vast theme approach, but Watchmen connected all of its themes and provided more than enough surface depth for my liking.
I could go on and talk about Watchmen a lot more. But, I have a feeling that many others will do as such and will break down every minute of the film, it is that type of picture. I have mulled over what rating to give to Watchmen, because I have a feeling that either the director’s cut or the ultimate cut will be even better and that will create a situation where all three movies will end up with the same rating. But, great is great, that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. I will say that Watchmen is a great film and one of the best comic adaptations to grace the big screen. Last year people raved over The Dark Knight while I raved over Iron Man and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. I will rave over Watchmen and tell you that it blows those three films away in every possible way. I loved the graphic novel and I loved the film, both are their own creature and if viewed as such I believe everyone should find something to love in either version of Watchmen.