Rating: *** three stars ("worthwhile") if you're a normal people, plus one bonus star ("recommended") if you're a fanboy/fangirl. However, only one star ("avoid!") if you're my mom.
- The original Watchmen "graphic novel" (i.e., comic book) has been called "unfilmable." This is a fair assessment. However, Zack Snyder and company come close to making a successful film adaptation. It's not quite the same as, or as deep as the original story, but they took a large chunk of the original story and worked it into a decent film. Bravo.
- That being said - and I can't believe I'm about to say this next part - I don't think Zack Snyder made enough changes to the graphic novel when making this movie. This was, after all, an incredibly dense 12-part series condensed down to one 2-1/2 hour movie. Movies have to be made for the general movie-going audience, and while I'm not in favor of hack-jobs like The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (that horrible movie resembled the clever source material in name only), clearly some consideration should be given to the fact that most of the audience is seeing this material for the first and only time. Also, it was surprisingly boring in places; there were many places where I felt the movie got bogged down by being too faithful to the subject matter when a shortcut might have sufficed.
- The changes Snyder did make, however, were great. Sorry fanboys, but the "squid" at the end never would have worked. (And if you know what I'm talking about, that means you.) The ending they opted for makes sense, remains faithful to the spirit of the movie, and keeps the general audience from having a fatal knee-jerk reaction. Ditto to a lot of the supporting material that was cut, like the "Tales From The Black Freighter" story-within-a-story. (However, I am looking forward to seeing the extras inserted in the director's cut, which - yes - I will be forced to watch because of my inability to stop myself.)
- Oh - and yes, visually it was pretty impressive. Many scenes were faithful reproductions of the graphic novel, which was nice for those of us that appreciated the exquisite detail of Dave Gibbons' original artwork. In addition, the special effects were well done, there were some well-choreographed action scenes, and there were only a few places where I thought the slo-mo was gratuitous.
- This movie is not for kids: it is a hard R rating. There is lots of graphic and bloody violence, complex and disturbing adult themes, and nudity (mostly of the "glowing blue penis" kind), plus a sprinkling of foul language. More than that, though, this is a movie that takes every superhero convention and turns it on its head. Most superheroes start with the question, "What would good people do if they had the ability to fight evil?" Watchmen starts with the question, "In the real world, what kind of people would dress up like superheroes?" That takes you to a vastly different place: one filled with sociopaths with latex fetishes, and an omnipotent superman who is as concerned about human beings as we are about insects.
- The movie, like Alan Moore's original story, paints an overly cynical picture of human nature. That might not have been so clear in 1986 during the height of the cold war, but it has become increasingly obvious over time. If normal superhero stories are too optimistic, this one is too pessimistic. That makes it hard to identify with the characters.
- Despite that, Rorschach is a well-acted and very cool character (disturbing, but cool) and has some of the best scenes of the movie. He also has one line that is worth the price of admission all by itself.
- This movie is a little out there, and it does not surprise me that it is struggling to meet expectations at the box office. It is very enticing in some ways, but very weird and off-putting in others. That's probably a good thing; this story is one-of-a-kind and we don't need the studios to be tempted to make Watchmen 2. But I am happy that this movie got made. Years from now, I think we'll look back on it as a cult favorite.
- I hate to do this, but I have to return to the big, flaccid blue penis. There is so much of it in this movie that it is at times distracting. (Although my dad pointed out that there seemed to be some additional anatomy missing in that area, if you catch my drift.) And it perhaps goes to show just how subversive this movie is that there is nothing sexy about the nudity in it. Even when we get a real (i.e., non-blue penis) sex scene, it is just awkward and sad.
And here is the Crazy People quote: "Decent film... not for kids... struggling to meet expectations... flaccid blue penis."