Property review: Watchmen (film)

WATCHMEN

Warner Bros., 2009

Who watched the Watch­men? Sadly, not many

When you have a suc­cess­ful and highly regarded graphic novel as a basis for a movie, there shouldn’t be prob­lems with the result­ing prod­uct. And yet, Watch­men didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Maybe the movie-going pub­lic is or was tired of super­hero flicks at the time, but “Watch­men” should have done bet­ter at the box office because it’s a fan­tas­ti­cally made film.

The color choice and set pieces are amaz­ing, and the atmos­phere of slowed vio­lence in motion will make your jaw drop. It’s visu­ally strik­ing in just about every take and cou­pled with smart, tight writ­ing, the movie moves along at a decent clip. It is slightly too long but at least the story told within will more than keep your inter­est. This is a film that needed to be expe­ri­enced on the big screen, and thank­fully, that’s how we learned about it.

The tale of an alter­nate time­line of cos­tumed super­heroes, the con­tin­ued Cold War and Richard Nixon man­ag­ing the White House through the ‘80s is a fan­tas­tic one, and we couldn’t help go in curi­ous as to how it would all work. Hav­ing never read the orig­i­nal Watch­men graphic novel, we reserved judg­ment until after read­ing it and see­ing the movie. It’s eas­ily become one of our favorite comics since and with good rea­son: It’s smart, it’s gor­geous and it’s believ­able. The movie con­tin­ues in the same vein and had most of the tools to suc­ceed such as rec­og­niz­able names attached to the project and estab­lished story.

The act­ing and cast­ing isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the draw here but it’s ser­vice­able. Every­one gives the same vibe off: They know their char­ac­ter and how that per­son or being fits into the larger scheme of sto­ry­telling. In par­tic­u­lar, we salute the act­ing chops of Jef­frey Dean Mor­gan, who played The Come­dian, for his abil­ity to steal the scene in all of his appear­ances. He is one of the true draws here, and he gives you your money’s worth and then some.

There’s sev­eral minute changes over­all that mostly the diehard fans will imme­di­ately notice, but to the stan­dard movie­goer, it’s noth­ing that will make you stop watch­ing. If you know noth­ing about the graphic novel, the movie will, if any­thing, cre­ate some curios­ity for the orig­i­nal. Much like it’s earlier-reviewed brethren “300,” “Watch­men” lifts nearly every scene directly from its source material.

Some peo­ple have an issue with that, as it doesn’t exactly inspire cre­ativ­ity on the part of the direc­tor, but we dis­agree. This is one of the few instances where we’d rather have the graphic novel told directly with lit­tle to no changes than the trans­la­tion screwed up (see: most video game movies).

If you’re look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent than the Dark Knight or mutants solv­ing world crises, we sug­gest look­ing at the tale of non super-powered heroes who are just fight­ing for the right to exist. This one’s a gem.

How we grade

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

Cast­ing: 8/10

Plot: 9.5/10

Like the comics?: 9.5/10

Over­all rat­ing: 27/30 or 9.0

 

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