My Quickie WATCHMEN Review, Pt. 1

So last night I was one of the reported $4.5 million worth of people that attended the midnight screening to Watchmen. Overall I was pretty happy with the results of what is being touted as the greatest comic book movie of all time. Much like the movie, I’m going to try to cram a lot of information in a little amount of time and give you the best quickie review I can given my impressions on about 8 hours of sleep after the fact.


My initial impressions of the movie are that this was about as good of a Watchmen flick as Hollywood will be able to deliver. Zach Snyder and his screenwriters were about as faithful to Moore’s epic as they could be, given the fact that they had to cram 12 issues worth of very dense story into less than 3 hours (I will be buying the extended cut DVD and the Tales of the Black Freighter/Under the Hood DVDs when they release). So, you have to bear with the fact that the entire movies was extremely compressed and hurried. You just had to. You had to be able to grab on at bar one and hold on for dear life as the entire opus unfolded. And for this fact, I have to give up lots of props to Snyder for his pacing, right up until about the last 1/3 of the movie where it just gets to be very rushed. I could see each chapter rolling by at a pretty decent pace until after the prison break (and even really, after Jon and Laurie leave Mars), then it really careened to a finish. Kudos for the powers-that-be for keeping it on track for that long. In fact, my general disappointment begins and ends with the fact that the final “act” (we’ll get to that in a second) seems very hurried. All of that aside, this is a really good comic book adaptation.

Why this was a great comic book flick and should be a lesson to those making them:

This is probably the first comic book adaptation, with the exception of “Sin City” where actual dialogue and panels of the comic are treated so faithfully into the end product. In my opinion this is crucial to adapting a work this like. Many critics I’ve listened to so far and really on Snyder’s case about this, but it’s my opinion that this is how all comic book movies should be done. Where Hollywood goes wrong in bringing comics to films is that they change too many things and are not respectful enough to the source material. I can say with pride that the first 1/3 of this movie is pretty much page-for-page, line-for-line of what Moore intended. Rorschach’s soliloquy at the beginning, although rushed, is near perfect for setting the tone for this film. The fact that so much of the graphic novel is kept in this movie is a real testament to how much Snyder loves it and his craft. Critics and reviewers need to take note: this is what we, the comic book faithful want to see. And this is what those that aren’t familiar with the genre NEED to see. This is absolutely the best representation of Alan Moore’s (and Dave Gibbon’s, respect) vision come true-to-life that we have seen to date. In this, we finally got to scratch the surface of where Moore’s genius lies. Yes, it’s lofty. Yes, it’s dense and confusing. But SO IS THE ORIGINAL WORK, and as a result this movie does an exceptional job at capturing it and making it accessible to the mainstream. So, I’m not upset about the fact that Snyder stayed so close to the comic book panels and dialogue when making this movie. I relish it, and I appreciate it, and I would advise every other director and screenwriter planning on making a comic book movie to do the same. That’s why they call it an adaptation. Stick with good source material and you can rarely go wrong. What changes that were made here were few, and they didn’t bother me so much that they ruined the original vision.

Why linear storytelling should be abandoned and why the critics should get over it:

Another complaint that I’m hearing about this movie from the reviewers is that this movie jumps around too much; that there is no real 3-act structure, and the whole thing gets diluted with bouncing from current events to flashbacks and origins. Again, this is the whole point. Moore’s original volume had three disparate stories going on at the same time and also covered all the ground work for establishing all the characters backstories and why the Watchmen universe was as it was. Again, this is part of the genius of why Watchmen worked. It was dense, it was bold, and it jumped around a lot.

This is the twenty first century, and film critics need to let go of 3-act structure and linear storytelling every once in a while. Look at why works like “Memento,” “Lost” and “Pulp Fiction” are so well received. Sometimes you have to break away from what’s been done, and typical structure, and all that and simply present the work in a manner that works best. Chronologically, there is very little wrong with Watchmen. The only serious deviations that I saw versus the comic made sense to me at the time. But to pan the movie because it jumps around or is confusing is playing into the hands of those that read the graphic novel for the first time and don’t get it. It’s supposed to be dense. It’s supposed to jump around, and it’s supposed to make you think or wonder what the hell is going on. This is why Watchmen is such a strong piece of art in the first place.

Pt. 2 forthcoming…

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2 Responses to “My Quickie WATCHMEN Review, Pt. 1”

  1. 1 Richard Eggert March 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Since I havent read the actual graphic novel, I cant say how well this movie is comparable to the original. Considering the storyline I feel it as a superb flop. None of the characters play a strong role. I thought that the action scenes would be similar to movie 300, but it was not even 25% near to that. And over that I wasted my $20 towards the tickets!

  2. 2 coffee March 14, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    I kept thinking that the guy who played the Comedian was Javier Bardem (I found out later that it’s actually Jeffrey Dean Morgan), but the two actors definitely look alike

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