Alan Moore’s Watchmen is regarded by many to be the best graphic novel of all time. Zack Snyder’s big screen adaptation is a valiant effort to capture the magic of the comic on film but the end result is somewhat disappointing. The comic is a perfect comic. The film is flawed and you’re a fool if you think its anywhere close to perfect.
It could have been worse though. It’s obvious that Zack Snyder respects the source material. He uses lines and scenes taken directly from the book. The whole first half of the movie is just like the comic. Then it starts deviating from it. And you realize there is no master plan involving kidnapped scientists and artists. So they had to change the ending. And fans don’t like it when you change the iconic ending to an iconic story.
Another problem with the movie is that they spend all the time establishing the main characters and ignoring the minor characters like the citizens of New York. So when NYC blows up and millions of people die, you don’t care because you didn’t know any of them. The director’s cut gives the Bernards a little more screen time, but if you only saw Watchmen in theaters you only catch a few glimpses of them.
The casting is pretty solid. Jackie Earle Haley steals the show as Rorschach. Jeffrey Dean Morgan does a great job as the Comedian, and it’s hard to play a character that you mostly get to know through flashbacks. Patrick Wilson does a good job as Nite Owl. Malin Åkerman plays a decent Silk Spectre II and you get to see her boobies (always a good thing). I don’t know about Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan. His delivery is too distant and monotonous and the blue CG wang is distracting.
Some of the actors are miscast. Carla Gugino can’t pull off playing the aging Silk Spectre, and even though she’s pretty to look at, it’s not enough to hide the fact that she can’t act. The worst decision was hiring Matthew Goode to play Ozymandias. In the comic Ozymandias is a super strong athletic gymnast with an intellect off the charts. Matthew Goode can play smart well. But he’s not physically intimidating. He looks skinny and sickly like he’s recovering from chemo.
If you liked the comic, you’ll probably enjoy the movie. If you never read the comic, I doubt you would know what the fuck is going on. It’s a really dense story and the movie tries to cram twelve issues of the comic into a few hours of screen time. Shit is going to be left out, cut out, or butchered. The movie will suffer as a result. It’s not a bad movie. It’s loud. It looks cool. There’s fighting and nudity and masked vigilantes. But it’s not the comic.
Critically Rated at 11/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young