Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Watchmen (2009)

They thought it was unfilmable, but they were wrong. They were so wrong. The most acclaimed graphic novel of all time is perfectly capable of being filmed, and being filmed brilliantly. Watchmen is a thrilling, dark, and wonderfully made film and, though it is certainly not without its flaws, I believe that it belongs up there with Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight, and The Avengers in the ranks of the greatest superhero films of all time. A few scenes aside, I loved everything about it. I loved the premise and I loved the non-linear structure it was told in and the narrative tangents that allowed me to learn more about the characters. The film is also extremely well directed, proving Snyder's ambition and skill as a director, which is quite great when he's directing films like this and not like Sucker Punch.

On a similar note, the film is visually flawless in all respects, featuring some of the best special effects, cinematography, art direction, and stylized slow motion that I have seen in any film. Especially in the opening credits sequence, which is probably the instance where I have seen slow motion used to its full potential of awesomeness, alongside being one of the coolest dumpings of exposition/opening sequences of all time. I have a love/hate relationship with excessively stylized films, but it worked for Watchmen, resulting in a good mix of style and substance (due to strong source material no doubt) and the visual perfection that I mentioned.

The actors involved also churn out decent performances, highlights being Matthew Goode, Patrick Wilson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Jackie Earle Haley (sorry Malin, you did your best, but your character simply didn't have much of a purpose outside token woman/groupie/love interest. Maybe it was different in the comics, but in the film, that's how it is.) Billy Crudup does a good job too, but I found the aforementioned actors and the characters they played a bit more exciting. Perhaps it's because they are fallible, whereas Dr. Manhattan is not. I found his transformation scene damned awesome though. I especially enjoyed Morgan's Comedian (for being extremely badass despite being an awful person, and for completely owning the film's opening scene), and Wilson's Nite Owl (for being the closest thing to a traditional superhero this film has to offer).

This film seems to have become overlooked, sparing certain circles, and the critics say that it's because non-readers would have trouble with the film's quote-unquote, "complex narrative structure". I had no problem with the film's narrative structure, and I have a feeling that the film is not as recognized as it should be due to the characters not being extremely well-known (except maybe Dr. Manhattan, and that's just because of the fact that he has a giant blue dick). That, and some of the film's more extreme moments are REALLY extreme. I mean, The Dark Knight was a gritty film, but despite the brutality shown onscreen, the film was basically bloodless. Watchmen is certainly not bloodless, and certainly not something you can take your kids to. That didn't stop it from making decent money at the box office and earning critical respect, as well as some geek respect (though fans of the comic are still pretty split on it). I'll just say that I loved this film, but if you don't like Zack Snyder's style of film, you probably won't like this film. I still say give it a look. It has earned its place on my favourite films of 2009 and my favourite comic book films.


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