Watchmen

by

Director – Zack Snyder

Writers – David Hayter and Alex Tse (Screenplay), Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore (Graphic Novel)

Starring – Jackie Earle Haley, Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode

Synopsis

“Watchmen” is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the “Doomsday Clock” – which charts the USA’s tension with the Soviet Union – is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion – a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers – Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity… but who is watching the Watchmen?”

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Review

I was as excited as the next guy to see Watchmen. One of the great novels of our time being adapted for the big screen! Oddly enough, fans didn’t seem to mind that Zack Snyder (that guy who made 300) was handling their baby and I didn’t care much either. The only reservation I had was whether I should read the novel or not. After much deliberation and an increasing time constraint, I decided to go without novel, and witness the film as is.

As an impartial viewer I can say, without hesitation, that Watchmen = balls. An utter disappointment which is wrong in so many ways that it is difficult to know where to begin. Let’s try: the script.

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Watchmen suffers from a lack of narrative. The layout of the film is not constructive; you basically have a set-up, then a 2 hour introduction to the characters with some other bits and then you get back to the task at hand. This lack of sequence not only makes the film somewhat difficult to follow, but also kills the pace. What we are left watching is a bunch of disjointed scenes that, although cool and gory and stuff; when put together, make a weak story and lifeless experience. To top it all off, when we are awarded our original narrative for managing to stay put; it turns out to be utterly deflating.

The editing can share the blame for the gormless narrative. With the running time bordering on 3 hours it is a wonder that the chopping team allowed for such a vast introduction to the character of Dr Manhattan, as well as various other scenes. Snyder wanted to stick religiously to the novel, which likely meant that he was breathing down the editor’s necks and yelling “Don’t touch that!” as they tentatively quiver their scissors over Night Owl’s basement.

Watchmen

Seeing as this review is rather more extended than usual (notice how I tend to do that with films I don’t like) I will round it off with the following statements… The cinematography is great at times; the score is terrible at times and the acting is pathetic at all times, discluding Jackie Earle Haley who gets Rorschach just right.

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Overall

“You have to read the book to understand and enjoy it.” If this statement is true, then it is evident what a failure the film is.

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