You only get to experience the Watchmen for the first time once.
The best way to experience the Watchmen for the first time is the graphic novel – by far. That being said, I really enjoyed the movie.
They told the story well, the characters interacted properly, and their motivations were spot-on.
There are noticeable differences, but it is the story that I love made flesh.
What was lacking was context and backstory. Due to the difference in medium some things had to be cut on account of time or inability based upon the medium. A lot of the backstory, history, and metaphor (subtle and obvious) were missing. It didn’t killed the story, but it isn’t the ideal way to experience this epic for the first time.
There are two things that movies have that comics don’t, sound and motion. Both were used effectively. The voices were great, especially Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach and the song selection was great. Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’, Jimi Hendrix’s All Along the Watchtower, Nena’s 99 Luftballoons (99 Red Balloons), and Ride of the Valkyries where perfectly placed, and strikingly loud. The songs actually told the story, which I found quite striking.
The acting and fight scenes felt like a natural interpretation of the Dave Gibbon’s artwork. The attention to detail in the scenery was also a nice a respectful touch. The fights did seem to suggest that these normal humans were something more than normal, but looking back at the graphic novel, I think it did too. Either way, it worked well.
My complaints center mostly on the loss of some key character development across the board, but especially when it comes to the whole impotence thing. If you’ve read the graphic novel, I think you will know what I mean. It was a big part of the psychology of one of the main characters.
Probably my biggest problem actually came in the credits (I think this is the first time I have had a problem with the credits in a movie). Malin Akerman (Laurie Jupiter/ Silk Spectre II) was given top billing, not Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach). This bugs me for two reasons. First and foremost, Rorschach may not be the protagonist, but I think he is the primary vehicle for telling the story. The second reason is simply that Haley steals the show. The man was the perfect Rorschach. Don’t get me wrong, Akerman played a great Laurie Jupiter. She nailed the part on every level, but she just can’t compete with the brilliance of Haley’s performance.
All-in-all, Zack Snyder & co. did good work. They capitalized on the strengths of cinema while limiting a lot of the damage that a comic-to-film translation usually entails. It is extremely difficult to handle such a revered series, and they did it with grace.
- Read the graphic novel first! If you go back and experience the graphic novel after seeing the movie, I just don’t think it will be as special. You can buy it online, or preferably visit your friendly neighborhood comic shop – They have stocked piled copies of this legendary book just for you.
- The movie is quite long – two hours and 43 minutes long. You probably won’t want to drink much before or during the movie.
- Remember that there is nothing “feel good” about this story. I wouldn’t recommend it as a date movie.
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