Who Watches the Watchmen? Hopefully, no one.
The Watchmen is an energetic, stylized movie that has its merits but ultimately misses the tone of Moore’s dark epic.
Between the huge studio battles, law suits and dozens of delays, fans had almost lost hope in seeing “Watchmen” become reality. Personally, I wasn’t convinced that this movie should have ever happened.
Alan Moore’s graphic novel is a dark, cerebral, brooding experience. The characters draw up a realistic portrayal of what caped crusaders might be like if they were real people – if the perfections that we take for granted in Superman and Spiderman were erased, and they were just like you and me. We’re left with the deeply flawed, disturbed and perverted heroes you’ll come to know as the Watchmen.
Watchmen takes place on an alternate Earth where Nixon is president for life (one of the first signs the future is not going well,) America won the Vietnam War, and costumed heroes have been outlawed. “Watchmen” starts off with the explosive murder of Edward Blake (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Also known as the Comedian, Blake’s death is the event that sets the film’s most dynamically acted character, Rorschach (Jackie Earl Haley). A useful opening credits montage introduces us to the hefty cast of superheroes and their history together. Pay attention, because if you’ve never read the graphic novel then there is a lot to miss here.
Ultimately director David Snyder bit off more than can be chewed. The movie is infused with a Hollywood energy that isn’t befitting of the dark source material – the compromises made to the tone of the film are far more horrendous than those done to the plot. Much adieu has been made about the changed ending, but I assure you that Snyder didn’t tack on a family-friendly ending. The change that he made (I won’t spoil it) is one that actually improves on the graphic novel’s own final act. Without being able to set up the proper Lovecraftian references of Moore’s seminal title, a giant squid monster might have been lost on your average moviegoer.
Instead we are left with a lot of action, a lot of characters, and not enough depth. Further, the musical choices are often laughable – listening to “Hallelujah” while watching a costumed Owl (who owes Batman royalties) and a spandexed skank bump and grind elicited more than a few chuckles from my fellow moviegoers. It’s been said that the perfect musical score is never noticed; it’s painful when one actually reverses the intended meaning of a scene.
Then again, maybe nothing could save that scene.
Ironically, the movie falls into many of the pits that the source material set out to satirize. The action is a focal point of what was once a character-driven story, and while this is an “okay” entry into the superhero echelon of movies, those expecting the gravity and character-driven story of, say, The Dark Knight will be disappointed.
Overall Grade: B-