Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Watchmen review

expectations: low
expectations met?: i was pleasantly surprised

i may have underestimated director zack snyder and his crew. considering that snyder's last film, 300, was just a bunch of men running around and stabbing each other in slow motion while yelling about democracy, i was worried about his ability to tell a story of this size. i'm a fan of the comic series. it's one of those complex stories i can reread every few years and discover new things in. after a wonderful montage introducing the history of superheroes in the watchmen universe i was continually surprised at how well watchmen translated on screen, and knowing how much they had to consolidate into such a short amount of time i thought it was well handled. i saw this with sharon, who has never read the comic, and i asked her if she felt that anything was missing or if there was any confusion about the world the film takes place in and she had no complaints. this is not meant to be a full blown endorsement mind you. too many of the actors were giving B-Movie performances and it hurts the weight of the story. I think the exceptions are jackie earle haley (who voices rorschach the way christian bale should have voiced batman, minus the grammar), patrick wilson and to a lesser extent, jeffrey dean morgan. billy crudup also did a great job with the voice of dr. manhattan and i think the decision to go all digital with that character was a good one because he looks human but doesn't quite move, behave or emote like one. it's like watching those creepy digital actors in the polar express, but intentional this time. also, the old age makeup effects are distractingly laughable. i thought the soundtrack was interesting. very eighties feeling. it's difficult to separate myself from the comic and any plot points that were skipped, changed or glossed over might have been automatically filled in by my memory of that story, but i think the movie stands on its own. this is a very different super hero world that's been created here and just because it's not as grounded in reality as the dark knight, i think it's a fully realized alternate universe that is handled with seriousness and sincerity. opinions have been across the board on this film. fans will see it regardless but i hope non-comic moviegoers check it out because i'd like to see more alternate worlds that aren't just trying to recapture the feeling of iron man and the dark knight. as for the change in the ending, it didn't bother me. if you've got a studio breathing down your neck saying you absolutely cannot have a giant alien squid in this movie, then this was a well thought out compromise. though it still bugs me that dr. manhattan never tells ozymandias "nothing ever ends". in my opinion that moment is perhaps more important than the possibility of rorshach's journal being published.


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