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Guest Writer: Jon Soweidy Reviews “Watchmen”

Unfortunately I was stranded on a desert island (literally) for the opening of “Watchmen,”  probably the most anticipated movie opening so far this year.   So I called upon by good friend Jon to fill in for me.   Jon is a comic book freak.  He was the person who first introduced me to the graphic novel upon which the movie is based on, probably the greatest graphic novel ever written.   I defer to him when it comes to anything related to comics, and am always interested in his opinion about comic book adaptations.   I’ll add my own observations later this week.  Here is Jon’s review.

 

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Zach Snyder of “300″ fame creates a fairly faithful adaptation of Moore’s acclaimed Watchmen graphic novel.

Someone has killed the Comedian, a super-hero for the last four decades, and thus begins an examination of masked vigilantes and how they have shaped their world.

The movie starts off as a murder mystery but turns into a gritty dark look at a world living under the shadow of impending nuclear war and then moves into a shady world-changing conspiracy. Snyder really tries to honor the graphic novel as much as possible and gives us one of the best opening credits in any film ever . . . filling it up with a musical montage that shows us the world of the watchmen characters. It’s all over youtube already so give it a look – you won’t be disappointed.

I am very conflicted over this film, especially the inner fanboy who has read Watchmen annually since I was 14.

Likes:

  • Rorschach: Brilliant casting, and how Christian Bale should have done Batman’s voice in Dark Knight. Immediately captures the intrigue of the audience.
  • Special effects: The mars scene was beautiful, and Dr. Manhattan was never seen as distraction in his CGI glory.
  • Soundtrack: The musical choices were awesome and felt in tone and really added to level of immersion.
  • Details: There is so much back story and so much attention to every scene and environment, making you feel like you are living in 1985 under President Nixon.
  • Patrick Wilson: His acting really brought the insecure and conflicted Nite Owl into a level of realism that outshone most of the cast.

Dislikes:

  • The 300 style violence . . . my wife almost vomited several times during the film, and it was so sensationalistic that it stole from the narrative.
  • Malin Ackerman’s acting was so bland that i didn’t buy anything she said or did and wanted her to go back to 27 dresses.
  • I felt that too much was left on the cutting room floor for the Veidt character and they raced through his back story and didn’t give enough to this major character.
  • The sex scene, one of the most awkward and graphic i have seen in some time. It’s long and detailed and completely stops the flow of the film.
  • The editing felt choppy towards the end, and I felt I missed a few things.

 

Overall the film works as a super-hero action film, great fight scenes, fairly complex plot, and intriguing characters. The film plays with the themes of hope, forgiveness, and the value of life. Though so much of it is done in a heavy-handed fashion or quickly glossed over that it doesn’t engage the audience the same way the Dark Knight did.

The Fanboy response:  WTF!!! They changed the ending. They took out all of the interaction of the normal characters, the cabbie, the therapist, the newsstand and the kid reading the comics.  All of the beautiful subtle symbols and nuances of themes of morality, war, and suffering all gone. They took a thoughtful story that delved into the characters and this tone of impending death and made the violence such a focus. Where the hell was the mystery and detective work?  Laurel Jupiter’s weird memory flashes made no sense and you got no payoff at all when she has her big realization.  I know we live in a post 9/11 world but seriously the ending really lacked any punch, a few big explosions that saved the world . . . big frakkin deal.  It wasn’t a bad movie and they really tried to be faithful to the book as much as possible but it was never meant for the big screen. Just because you try to stuff all of the details of the novel in the film doesn’t mean it’s executed and it retains its spirit.

That’s the fanboy summation . . . it was fun to see one of my favorite stories on film, but in every scene I felt it was soulless.
Recommended

  •  if you like super-hero films
  •  if you enjoy uber-violence
  •  if you like shades of grey and questionable morals by your heroes

Not Recommended

  • if you are squeamish
  • if you aren’t into really graphic sex
  • if you like happy endings.
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