Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Okay, I know you are dying to know what I thought of Watchmen.
Kat and I saw it Saturday with friends and, oddly, this has been my first chance to sit down and write about it.
The movie is good. Not great, not fantastic, but good. It's faithful to the book especially in its look, though it's undercut by some choices that--while understandable--end up weakening the story in certain ways.

  • Everyone loves Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, and with good reason--this is an Oscar-level performance, especially at the end. He deserves enormous kudos for what he does with (and without) a sock on his head.
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan made me care about the Comedian. He pulled this brute's humanity out by the roots and showed something vulnerable, even tragic in this monster wrapped in the American flag. Amazing performance.
  • Patrick Wilson comes alive as Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II late in the game, but when he does, it's great. (Also, his reaction to the near-end of the movie feels much more appropriate than what happened in the comic.)
  • Billy Crudup sells me (most of the time) on Dr. Manhattan. Although we nicknamed him "Swingin' Blue," the shots of him full-frontal weren't gratuitous and his manners reflected a character who really cannot connect with humanity any longer.
  • The production values of the movie could not have been higher, with amazing effects (like Rorschach's mask, the Owlship, Dr. Manhattan) and fantastic sets putting viewers into the sewer that is this alternate 1985.
  • Taking out the squid was okay with me.


  • Watchmen is set in a time when the world is literally on the edge of nuclear annihilation. Problem is, we don't feel it. Alan Moore used street-level perspective to get the point across--the news vendor, the teenage kid, the cabbie, the psychiatrist, all of them showed life on the edge of the end. In the movie, we don't get enough of this. I know it's a time-constraint issue but I can only hope the director's cut includes it.


  • The violence was gratuitous. I know they're supposed to be "not the heroes we know," but showing compound fractures, ripping skin and a skull cleaved (over and over again) was overkill. And somewhat nauseating.
  • Malin Akerman only sold me on her as Silk Spectre here and there. I can't say for sure if it was performance or script but she didn't register as anything more than a token female presence passed between two of the characters. Her revelation moment landed with a thud and even the byplay with Carla Gugino felt forced. Not good.
  • Matthew Goode didn't deliver as Ozymandias. His performance was too muted, too restrained. Was he (or Zach Snyder) thinking that the audience would figure it out? Didn't they know most of the audience knows the story by now? In any case, Ozy should have been more forceful and Goode was just kind of present.
  • The music really hammered on this being the 1980s, didn't it?
  • The makeup for Nixon especially was terrible. And it didn't help that he was always in the War Room under that harsh fluorescent lighting, which showed how little the actor resembled the ex-president.

I doubt this will be one for the ages. My circle of friends (by voice vote) think it will not end up one of the big films of the summer, and indications now are that they are right.

At least this put to bed the notion that Watchmen (the graphic novel) is unfilmable. It CAN be filmed--but this version of it wasn't as great as the source material.

Grade: B-/C+

No comments: