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Monday, March 9, 2009

Cody's Film Review: The Watchmen

I always had serious doubts that The Watchmen Graphic Novel could ever be made into a movie. I never thought the story or subject matter was hard to translate, it was the sheer bulk and almost limitlessness character information the book held. The only way I thought the transfer from book to film could be done was by a two part film or even better a seven part HBO mini-series. I think Zack Snyder has done a more than decent job of converting a 12 part comic book into a two hour and forty five minute film. I even thought the different ending worked well and probably makes more sense to use in the film than the Graphic Novel ending. There are still many missing pieces, but give the guy a break he still made one of the truest adaptations from book to film form ever. That being said Snyder didn't make a great film, but he did make a good one.
I will begin with what I did like about The Watchmen. I thought the casting was great. The idea of no big stars was a smart move and made the film affordable to make. Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl) and Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach) give the best performances in the entire movie. It could be that I love them as a team in the book and they transcended the characters to film perfectly. Nite Owl is the one person caught in the middle. He wants to help Rorschach, but is also scared to get too involved with his old life. Of all of the Watchmen he is the one truly good person, and Patrick Wilson plays the part perfectly. Jackie Earle Haley I think had the hardest character to adapt from the book. Not only does Haley look the part, but he pulls off the uncompromising Rorschach to a tee. His dialog, voice, and actions don't come off as corny or too comic bookish. He is very convincing and deserves as much praise as Heath Ledger got as the Joker. Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Comedian is dead on, and I was glad that he was allowed to play the part as the murderous bastard the Comedian really is. Billy Crudup also shines as the detached Dr.Manhattan. It's not a real glamorous role, but the subtleties of his character are very important to the story. As a viewer you are never bored by
Dr. Manhattan and his origin scene was probably my favorite part of the film. I think Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre) and Matthew Goode (Ozymandias) do a good job, but they suffer because their characters origins were the most cut. I never thought they had the strongest personalities in the book.The film had to cut somewhere and this is where you see it, and I think their performance is affected because of it. I also thought they were both a little too young, when everyone else looked middle-aged. I praise Zack Snyder for not pulling any punches on the sex and violence, but I must condemn him on his horrible choice of music. The sex scene with Leonard Cohen blaring in the back ground is ridiculous and laughable. Using Simon & Garfunkel, Hendrix, and Ride of the Valkyries is tired and just plain stupid. The only time the music works is during two of my favorite scenes. The first is Times They Are a Changing by Bob Dylan during the opening credits is a over used song, but it works with the subject matter. The second is Phillip Glass Powaqqatsi score over Dr.Manhattan's origin. I also thought they should have cut out any scene with Nixon, Kissinger, or any other real person. It just looked bad and seemed more like a bunch of bad impressions with horrible make-up. The way around this would have been to show them on television giving speeches, instead of showing us bad acting in cheap War Room rip off sets. I had a problem with some of the action style, the slow motion then fast motion ramping is a little tired and will date the movie. It doesn't bother me too bad because this is a comic book film and at least I can see the action unlike most shaky-cam action films nowadays. Overall a good film that just puts too much information in a small alloted time and it still has a lot of holes. 3.5 out of 5 stars

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