Review – Watchmen

Watchmen (2009, Zack Snyder)

Based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic graphic novel from the mid 80’s – Watchmen was picked up and eventually dropped by several Hollywood directors over the past 10 years including ‘Bourne’ helmer Paul Greengrass and outsider Terry Gilliam. Deemed “unfilmable” by original writer Alan Moore, the Watchmen movie has finally come to pass under the direction of relative newcomer Zack Snyder – known for his glossy style incorporated in his two previous films ‘Dawn of the Dead‘, (the 2005 remake and the testosterone-fest that was 300.  

It’s March 2009 and the Watchmen movie finally arrives amidst a frenzy of anticipation. Does it live up to that hype?

In short, no. Firstly, it must be said, Watchmen is an astoundingly faithful adaptation of the source material – one of the most faithful ever seen. But this fact is where the film stumbles. Snyder is so precise in his vision of adapting the novel that he loses sight of what is important – narrative. The film bounces around from scene to scene with little or no structure and no real build up to the final act. When the final act arrives we simply don’t care about the story or characters.

It must be said that knowledge of the source material is quite important as the material is very deep and seeing the film without knowing any of the characters may prove difficult at times. 

Another aspect of the film which lacks credibility is the acting. It was generally very bland and in keeping with a lot of sub-par comic book movies. One exception to this was Jackie Earle Hayley, who plays the insane Rorsharch brilliantly. 

The film suffers also from Snyders obsession with overstylized slo-mo action scenes. I felt a more gritty style of action scene would have been more in keeping with the tone of the novel. 

On the plus side, some of the production design is great (apart from some of the awful prosthetic make up). Also, the opening credits are some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Overall, Watchmen is an overlong movie (200 mins) that is definitely not your usual comic book movie – and it deserves credit for not trying to appeal to everyone. Alas, it is far too convoluted and uninteresting despite a few fun moments.

Maybe Alan Moore was right after all.

Rating: 5.5/10

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