Viewed: 16 August 2009 Blu-ray
Well this was a movie that back when I watched it in March, really puzzled me. The hype surrounding the ‘unfilmable’ graphic novel and the over-played teaser trailer made me believe this was going to be the best super hero movie ever made – and definitely one of the big hitters of the year. Boy did I come away completely bewildered. See my original thoughts HERE.
Watchmen as I said is unconventional, preachy and depressing whilst at the same time managing to be dazzling, beautiful to look at and full of complex characters, with a cold-war back-drop that fascinates. Zack Snyder should be commended for attempting such a bold and daring adaptation of a graphic novel that was very much a product of it’s time. On a second viewing I admit to apreciating more the down beat pace and the doom-layden atmosphere. The character of Rorschack is outstanding and fierce, and actor Jackie Earl Hayley deserves all the credit that’s been bestowed upon him. Yet I stand firm on my original view point that the movie hammer’s its point home too heavily, and any good it does in its first two hours are almost undone in the hopeless and shocking final act. I enjoyed the strange and ethereal presence of Doctor Manhattan even if he probably defines the film’s hopeless underlying message. It’s also hard to come away not feeling a little depressed by the outcome. But don’t let such things put you off, because if unlike me you approach this film on first viewing with the expectations of something completely different and unusual, then maybe you might grow to love it.
The Blu-ray I’ve watched is the American director’s cut and here we get 24 minutes of additional footage, even if I was hard pressed to see anything strikingly new apart from the death of a supporting character and a touch more violence. The violence still seems gratuitious and the sex scene unnecessary despite it’s titillation factor. Yet if you’re a fan of the movie – this is the version to own. Extras wise the big thing here is the maximum movie mode, an exhaustive on-screen commentary that is both revolutionary and bursting with information – a definite must view. Otherwise we get featurettes on the graphic novel and some stuff about real-life costumed heroes and a wealth of other tid bits to fill out the experience.
Verdict: 4 /5
(definitly a better experience second time round)
Viewed – 17 March 2009 Cinema
This is a difficult review to write … normally with comic book superhero fair I know where I am and can settle into the reviewing process easily… but this is not like any other comic book movie, for a start it plays out very adult and unconventional, where this time around the caped crusaders are mostly disgraced, fallen heroes semi-retired living in a city that no longer (if ever) respects them.
Somebody is also trying to track them down and kill them, as the threat of cold war nuclear devastation looms. Set in 1985 we follow a bizarre gumshoe detective called Rorschack, sporting a cloth mask that changes appearance depending on his mood, investigating the murder of a fellow Watchman, and turns to his former colleagues (Silk Spectre, Night Owl, Ozymadias) to try and figure out who or what is behind it. This depressing, bitter character narrates the film in an overly preachy manner, as he recants entries from his journal. His dialogue seems to be a direct read of what was most likely on the page of the graphic novel on which the film is based, and there it would read like well written, quality prose, but here feels like you’re being beaten over the head when all you want to do is see some costumed heroes kick ass.
Add the rather mental character of Dr Manhattan, a big blue guy who for the most part is stark naked with his cock hanging out. He’s so powerful and strange that he does lift the film out of near tedium but has a manner so bland and down beat that every time he’s on screen you feel the plight of our heroes is hopeless. This film has a lot to say about nuclear armageddon, about societies faith in a savour of some kind, heroism, politics and war, and with detailed flash backs on each characters past, you do find yourself getting enthralled … but this big issue here is that at the end of the day, its just not that entertaining. Things do kick off, and its exciting in parts, both stylish and well choreographed, with some excellent special effects (even throwing in sex and violence to hammer home that all important ‘adult’ flavour). OK, some of the more graphic imagery is mostly unnecessary, but hey I’m a guy and the sight of Silk Spectre costumed or naked is going to work for me any day of the week.
So there we have it, the film adaptation of a graphic novel they said was unfilmable, and I can see where they were coming from. Yes you can film it, replicate the images and the style of the book, but by completely adapting the text and the complexity of the narrative (for the most part) to the screen, they have lost that all important ‘fun’ factor that a big budget, effects filled costume caper needs to be successful. I’m sure this will do well, but you may come away as I did thinking … ‘did I enjoy it?’.
Verdict: 3 /5
Check this out! Hyped to be the final word, the full stop and the Citizen Kane of super hero movies. From this trailer, it may just live up to such expectations.