Published on March 11th, 2009 | by Erich Becker0
As most rabid fans of a comic book series can attest to, you really don’t want anyone screwing with your source material making it lose everything that made it special to being with. There’s a line that must never be crossed, yet is completely obliterated time and time again by greedy studios, hack directors, and ill-informed screenwriters. Watchmen was suppose to be the film that broke that trend, and for the most part, it is going against the most nihilistic expectations of fanboys, but after witnessing Zack Snyder’s ode to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons perennial work, maybe things would have been better off without this adaptation.
There’s a lot to like about Watchmen, the film is oozing style reminiscent of the graphic novel using the carefully drawn frames of the twelve-issue series to frame cinematic exploits of not-quite-super heroes like Rorschach, Night Owl, and Dr. Manhattan, but there’s also a lot of disappointment surrounding the film as well.
As a stand alone film the cinematography is great, the direction is tight; the script is well done and involving. The audience is introduced to the characters and through carefully interwoven bits is introduced to their past as well. However as an adaptation of the graphic novel the film is a big disappointment. Everyone know concessions were going to have to be made to accommodate a movie’s runtime and the dialog heavy graphic novel may have worked better as a miniseries than an actual film. While every scene cut from the film isn’t pivotal, there are bits and pieces, secondary characters, plot points that all build up and give the ending much more impact when the reader realizes what has happened. Here those missing elements are filled in by the minds of those who have read the novelization, but novices will find themselves lost.
The ending itself deserves plenty of talk as it is completely changed as far as the events portrayed. While the basic principles of who lives, who dies, who is to blame, and why they did it are left intact, certain elements that are part of the harrowing climax of the source material are sadly missing or altered beyond recognition here. Those viewers who already had problems with how the comic ended will have even bigger problems now as the vilification of a beloved character just doesn’t fit.
This work was called unfilmable at one point in its decades stuck in development hell and Snyder’s release proves that to be false, there was a film made here, and a pretty good one at that, but all people are going to talk about is what is missing, what is present, and how much of the cut material we’re going to get back in the eventual director’s cut on DVD.
There were a lot of claps during our screening of the film, there were also some groans and giggles by those who can’t handle the sight of a blue ding-a-ling on a 70ft screen, but I didn’t really hear any indifference, people either loved it or hated it, there appears to be no middle ground.
Knowing the development hell this film has gone through, the scrutiny that would follow it up to and after its release this had to be expected, but after all those gushing early reviews from fanboys and comic books geeks you just had to expect and adaptation akin to The Dark Knight instead of the passable interpretation we received.