Who watches The Watchmen?

I have a confession to make: long ago when I heard that they are making a movie about The Watchmen, one of the first questions that popped in my head was "Will Dr. Manhattan be naked?". The answer is: Yes he is.

In some ways that fact tells quite a lot about the movie. It would have been very easy for Zack Snyder to not show Dr. Manhattans man-meat onscreen. But he did. Why? Because they showed it in the graphic novel, and because it underlines his detachment from the humanity. Why should almost omnipotent creature care about humanity's customs and taboos? In other words: Snyder was not prepared to do the easy thing, he made no compromises. Not even in the face of the Armageddon. And considering that he decided to make a movie of a story that most people consider "unfilmable", that shouldn't come as a surprise.

I'm not going to go through the plot, since it's re-told in numerous places already. What I am going to do is to tell how well they succeeded in making this movie. I know that whether you have read the original graphic novel will influence the way you see this movie. When reading my comments you should remember that I have read the original story several times.

So, did they succeed? Yes they did. In fact, I would go as far and say that this is one of the best movies in recent years! The movie is as faithful to the book as you could wish for. Yes, they had to make some changes and they had to omit some sub-plots. But what is there is the things that are essential to the story.

If we compare this to "Lord of The Rings", another movie that was based on the book, we can see that the changes are a lot smaller. Unlike in LOTR, the storyline is basically intact, when we compare the book and the movie. The changes are in the details. Don't get me wrong, LOTR is an awesome movie. But at points it deviates quite far from the original story. this does not happen in The Watchmen.

It's apparent that Snyder handled the story with great love and care. It seems that he did not treat the original story as a vessel to earn money. Rather, he saw it as a story that deserves to be told in the big screen, and he went out of his way to do just that. And he succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.

Some of the negative reviews of the movie complain that this is not a good movie, because Snyder decided to treat the graphic novel with such veneration, that the movie resembles the book too much (viewpoints, camerawork, etc.). And here I am, scratching my head thinking "is that a bad thing"? Sure, some might say that simply "copying" the original is easy. But it's not. Besides, if the original works, why should it be changed? For the sake of changing it?

This movie is full of music. Good music. Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan.... It feels like that at some point they decided that "why don't we only use good music in this movie, as opposed to crappy music?". The music they went with is perfect for this movie.

So, what about the acting? It's solid all around, but there's one performance that rises above others: Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. Watching him bring that sociopathic character to the screen reminded me of the powerful performance Heath Ledger did as The Joker in "The Dark Knight".

To continue with The Dark Knight... That was a great movie. But at times it felt overlong. The Watchmen is 10 minutes longer, but it didn't feel stretched at all. The story was so deep that it simply needed a lot of time to be told. In my opinion The Watchmen is better than The Dark Knight.

Being the geek that I am, it might come as a surprise that I do not have a huge flat-screen TV of blu-ray-player. I have told myself that I might get those when they release The Lord of The Rings on blu-ray, since that movie deserves a huge screen and lots of pixels. I will now add The Watchmen to that short list. Reason being that this movie is beautiful. It shows decay and bleakness, but it's still beautiful. No matter that are we talking about colours, camerawork, special effects... It's just superb.

And as an icing on the cake: is it just me or are the opening credits of The Watchmen some of the best in any movie, ever?

Seriously, this is a superb movie. It delivers on every level. I can't think of anything they could have done better.

1 comment:

dr witmol said...

Absolutely agree on Rorschach being the best character and performance, I also thought the choice of music was superb and loved the opening credits.

After those first few minutes I thought even if the rest of the movie was rubbish, those credits would be worth playing over and over, especially with Dylan's 'Times they are a'changing' very strongly through it.