Thursday, April 09, 2009

I watch the watchmen

The day after my birthday I went to see Watchmen. This was a unique event for me, in that it was the first time I have ever been to the cinema alone. While it was a somewhat lonely experience, the cinema was virtually empty, and I rather enjoyed myself- I am not unfond of my own company, which is good, because I have to put up with myself a LOT.

So, to the film. Watchmen is a tough film to review. It does a lot of things right, and is clearly made by someone who loved the graphic novels, but equally seems to undermine the books message at some points. First of all, I'd recommend everyone actually read the graphic novel. It is excellent, and I suspect the film suffers without it. Watching the film, there is a strong feeling of it being a tribute to the book, rather than a film in it's own right, to the point where the majority of the panels from the comic are re-created (sometimes in slow motion, which rather misses the point of having a moving medium, but never mind).

I read reviews which mocked the film for taking dialogue directly from the comic book, and while that doesn't always work, the film is at it's weakest when creating dialogue that ISN'T in the comic book. While changes are fine, some of them weakened the narrative, I felt. I got the impression that the film really wanted Nite Owl and the Silk Spectre as the heroes, and while they are probably the most sympathetic characters in the comic book, Nite Owl in particular is meant to be a force of impotence, both sexually and physically, wanting to save the world in a very childlike fashion, and not being able to cope when the world is not the way he thinks it is. Rorschach, on the other hand, was a pretty much perfect movement from book to screen. He is such a wonderful character, basically driven to effective insanity by the things he has witnessed, and drawing a line in the sand he utterly will not cross, which causes him huge problems in the films conclusion.

I do wish Zach Synder would grow up a bit as a film maker. His addiction to slow motion, and bizzare choices for the music (as well as the surreal sex scene which I'm, not sure what to make out of- is it meant to be hilarious, because it comes across as such?), undermine the film badly, and his addiction to revelling in violence during some scenes really hurts what the novel, at least, was talking about. All in all, it's a good film, and for a supposedly unfilmable novel, it's been done pretty well, but it's definitely rather flawed.

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