Not being a big follower of the endless slew of comic book conversions, I was refreshingly surprised with how good this film is. Directed by Zack Snyder, who previously made 300, apparently the movie has been stuck in development hell for years with one director after another bailing out, since the original graphic novel is a rich and complex environment that has a Lord of The Rings unfilmability (though of course, Peter Jackson proved everyone one on that one).
There are a number of stand-out successes of this movie, the most noticeable of which is the visual direction. Although it seems to give up about two thirds through, the first two acts contain shot after shot of well-framed and well-lit setups, with some moody camera moves and unusual imagery. Needless to say the special effects are first class and it's getting harder every day to tell the difference between sound-stages and 3D models - much of it is hidden is clever and impossible camera moves (such as tracking down a hallway and pulling back between two prison bars, where a real camera wouldn't fit). In the same way that 300 captured its story's style visually, Watchmen also creates a unique look that highlights the underlying mood.
Snyder also has a good eye for casting - pretty much everyone is relatively unknown with the exception of Billy Crudup. It's pleasant to see a film putting its development budget on the screen where we can see it, instead of into the inflated price-tags for A-list celebrities. Jackie Earle Haley has a scene-stealing presence and Jeffrey Dean Morgan is convincing as the psychotically troubled 'Comedian' character.
Many critics have complained about the plot's tendency to fire all over the place and create confusing setups for the main characters, but I consider this is a strength in the attempt to include as much as possible from the original work. The tendency to dumb things down for the A.D.D. generation leads to dismal failures like Stallone's Judge Dredd, and if you're willing to pay attention and not have to text on your iPhone every five seconds, it's pretty clear what's happening despite the use of non-linear story lines.
Watchmen is dark. Very dark. This is R-rated and should be kept away from your kids. The fundamental principle of its universe is that human nature is savage and even with the superpowers of exceptional individuals, they cannot fundamentally change the tendency of people to annihilate themselves. There are sex scenes that push the boundaries of where Hollywood usually likes to go. There's brutality ranging from the unspeakable (the murder of a pregnant woman) to the understandable (the frenzied butchering of a pedophile that feeds a six-year old to dogs). The characters are all troubled and the general public seems unsympathetic and unsupportive at best, while the world's leaders are manipulative and opportunistic. Even the ending isn't a happy one, and stays true to its concept. This is all good stuff.
But I have two major bones to pick with the film, only one of which derails what could otherwise be a 5-star movie. It's too long - I mean, really, 30-45 minutes too long. The main drag appears somewhere in the second half of act two to near the middle of act three, and while I was glued to the screen prior to this speed bump, I felt I was losing interest in the slow stretch. Even the visual quality has less care and attention in this section, and it's a shame. With a little more editing, this could have easily been fixed without sacrificing plot development. My second complaint is the overuse of Matrix-style slow motion, and some fight scenes that just seem tacked onto the story. Bullet-time has been overused extensively, and there are only so many times that massive fight sequences where piles of bad guys are dispatched by our super-fast heroes can be engaging.
Otherwise this is quite a solid movie and certainly one of the best comic book adaptations I've seen. The backdrop of US-Soviet nuclear tension adds an interesting dimension, and there's a vague plausibility to the whole concept (well, as plausible as super-hero films can ever be). The soundtrack is well chosen too. Anyway, fingers-crossed that Zack Snyder keeps improving, and hopefully on his next film he'll allowed the editor a little more control.
All I know about WATCHMEN I learned from the movies. I'd never read the graphic novel…I'd never heard of it, in fact, until buzz about the movie started. So I cannot comment on the faithfulness to the source, or whether it captures the spirit of the original work. So for this novice, WATCHMEN was a big, often entertaining, sometimes tedious mish-mash of straight-forward action film, a tongue-in-cheek spin on the superhero genre and a sometimes interesting … more
If there's one thing that I lament about the film-going experience as I get older, it's that I move further and further away from the boy who used to watch movies with unquestioning wide-eyed amazement. When I turned thirteen I started looking at film with a slightly more critical and as the years packed on with an increasingly cynical eye. It's a very rare experience for me to walk into a film without the baggage of 20 odd years of cinema watching experience, comparing … more
Let's just say that I should have stuck with my gut and not have seen this movie. I knew it was going to be bad and it was. A stupid trailer that was better then the first one made me go see this movie and I dragged other people with me including my fiance who had to be up early the next day. What was so terrible about this movie? For one thing the blue dangling penis that happened to be waving for most of the move. I mean really, it should have had a line in the credits because it was … more
Pros: Wow. Just...whoa. Cons: Not for everyone, definitely. The Bottom Line: A movie that takes time to absorb - even a carload of friends may be silent for a bit on the way home before launching into typical after-movie conversation. I just got home from watching Watchmen. It is currently 12:07 AM. The movie began at 9:00 and ended around 11:45 PM, so be ready for a picture that's long and involved. &nbs … more
Fanboys rejoice! Director Zack Snyder, of "300" fame, has faithfully adapted Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel "Watchmen" with intensity, style and passion. The film has a few minor flaws in its narrative, as it crams an epic story into 2 hours and 43 minutes, however the end result will entertain casual moviegoers looking for an action movie with a brain. "Watchmen" revolves around the lives of estranged heroes who have devoted their lives to protecting a world that has … more
I was not impressed by director Zack Snyder's efforts in "300." While it was a visual feast with impressive special effects, I felt that Snyder used those visuals as a crutch to support a rather dull plot. The actual historical account of the battle at Thermopylae was, to me, a much better story than Snyder's film or Frank Miller's graphic novel. With that said, I wasn't expecting much from Snyder's "Watchmen." Based on the comic series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, I thought … more
There have been numerous attempts to adapt the superlative graphic novel Watchmen, which was written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, into a feature film. The first serious proposal to do so came in the late 1980s and for a long time director Terry Gilliam (director of Brazil and 12 Monkeys) showed interest in making the film. However, after numerous attempts to create a script, Gilliam was quoted as saying that the graphic novel was too complex and too amorphous for even him to adapt. Later acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain) was reported as a possible director, but this never came into fruition. Initially set to direct the film was Paul Greengrass (director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum). However he was sacked during budget disputes at Paramount Studios, who were at the time meant to release the film. Since then Zack Snyder (director of the remake of Dawn of the Dead and of the film adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel 300) has been assigned the role of director and the film has been moved from Paramount to Warner Bros. Studios.
The film was released on March 6 of 2009. On July 21 of 2009 the film was released in both theatrical and director's cut editions on DVD. On November 10 of 2009 the film was released in an Ultimate Edition containing Tales of the Black Freighter animated sequences and linking scenes.