Cinema Express: Watchmen (2009)

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Zack Snyder’s Watchmen is the type of superhero film that is best enjoyed as a live action comic book. The film seems to live and die by its source material and most of the best aspects of the movie are probably more of a credit to the graphic novel than the film. In comparison to other super flicks, Snyder’s movie has a unique set of priorities. Rather than glorify its superheroes, the film does an excellent job of making them as flawed as possible. In the end, the characters seem more like the despicable, battling gods of Greek mythology than admirable comic book superheroes. Also, in sharp contrast to many comic adaptations, Watchmen relies heavily on its plot and the story and setting are given more attention than one who hasn’t read the graphic novel (me) would expect. Those anticipating non-stop action and likable superheroes will be sorely disappointed.

When action does arrive, the audience is treated to slow motion and booming music. The fighting scenes, which are Snyder’s most obvious contribution to the film, are rather scarce, but they are still quite good. Perhaps the most memorable is the opening scene, an awesome mash-up of flying fists, slow-mo, and Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable.” Such sequences become the defining moments of Watchmen and though they are relatively few, they certainly make an impression on the audience. The portion of the film that does not include violence is dedicated to telling the back stories of each of the superheroes and depicting an alternate reality in which those heroes work alongside the government (Nixon sends them to Vietnam and the Vietcong completely surrender within weeks). While it certainly makes for an original take on the genre, I suspect that it may occasionally come off as a self-indulgent one to some as well. It demands a lot of time and offers little in the area of humor or good, innocent fun, unless you laugh at its undeniable campiness. In fact, the movie is about as depressing as a film of this kind can be, yet against all odds, I enjoyed Watchmen very much.

Admittedly, there is way too much dialogue that should not have been transferred to the screenplay. Also, the final act is rather forgettable in comparison to the rest of the movie, but like Man of Steel, I couldn’t help but have a good time. I was intrigued by the world that Snyder & Co. brought to life here. I enjoyed the way that the film explored the interactions between superheroes during the Cold War. I thought the fight sequences were over-the-top action gold and I absolutely loved the soundtrack of Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Hendrix, and others. Still, there is something else that helps the movie stand out among other blockbusters of the genre. Unlike superhero films like Iron Man 3 and The Avengers, Watchmen has the ability to spark thought and conversation about morality and the world we live in long after the film is over, making for a solid superhero flick despite its unapologetic Synderness.

B+

27 responses to “Cinema Express: Watchmen (2009)

  1. Read the novel and just could not get into this. I realize this was almost an impossibility to bring to the big screen but it just did it NO justice whatsoever, at least imho.

    • Haven’t read the book, but I guess I should because I’ve heard only good things about it. That probably helped me like the movie more. πŸ™‚

  2. Spot on review mate. I haven’t read the graphic novel either but I really liked this. I just like how different it is from almost all the other superhero films out there. They’re all starting to blend into one, but this really stands out.

    • Thanks! πŸ™‚ I think that’s what I really thought was cool about it as well. It was also probably one of the only superhero movies I’ve ever seen where I didn’t already know the heroes before I watched it.

    • Definitely understandable. Hardly any of the characters are what I would call “heroes”, some are almost more like antiheroes actually. They aren’t your traditional supers, that’s for sure.

  3. I actually really liked this movie – but I am also a big fan of the source material, Zack Snyder and Patrick Wilson – good work!

    • Awesome, thanks! I’m finding that I usually like Snyder and this one might be my favorite by him. The graphic novel sounds great, so I’ll have to look into reading it when I get the chance.

  4. I quite enjoyed this – but not as much as you πŸ˜‰ Having read the book, I think it’s main problem is that Snyder is actually too much of a fan and therefore has created a film that’s too close to the book. I think it would have benefitted from him treating it as a completely different medium… umm… which is obviously is!

    • Glad you enjoyed it too. πŸ™‚ Without having read the book, I could tell that the film was too much like the novel. There’s a lot of unnecessary dialogue and such, HOWEVER it really didn’t have any effect on my enjoyment of the film. But yeah, it almost seems more comic book than film at times.

      • When you read the novel, you’ll also be amazed at how many scenes Snyder managed to shoot frame for frame. It’s pretty impressive. But I guess it’s also another way that shows he may have been a bit too handcuffed by the book.

        • Wow, that’s quite something. I had no idea that it was that similar to the book. I’m definitely gonna have to read it soon. Frame for frame is quite impressive indeed.

  5. I was a big fan of the graphic novel in my teens and I thoroughly enjoyed Snyder’s take on it. I’m not that big on superhero movies but I’d probably say that this is my favourite of the genre. Nice one Garrett.

    • Thanks. I’d say that it would be among my favorites of the genre as well. It definitely stands out and that’s probably why I like it. Though I can’t say that it tops the Dark Knight trilogy for me. πŸ™‚

  6. The graphic novel is obviously better, but the movie still does try it’s hardest to capture the same type of mood, look, and feel of it. Doesn’t always hit the right marks, but it deserves an A for effort. Nice review.

  7. Pingback: Movie Report Card: June 2013 | Cinema Train·

  8. Great write up! I saw the film before reading the novel – as everyone says, the novel is considerably better, and yet the film is still pretty solid!

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