I Watched The Watchmen.
Ain’t No Thang But A Blue Wang.
That’s right, I’ve got two taglines today.
Milo here, just getting my blue wang out.
Oh Zack Snyder, oh sweet, monochrome Zack Snyder, what happened, boyo? You used to be really good. Well, you used to pretty good. I haven’t yet seen the Dawn Of The Dead remake but I’ve heard it’s top notch, 300’s a flippin’ classic and I thought Sucker Punch was alright, really, as is this. Then, DC picked you up for their cinematic crap and you flopped into a grey puddle of boring camera filters and uncool slo-mo.
However, (I’m no longer talking to Zack Snyder, unless he’s reading this, if so, click here) as I said Watchmen was alright. However, even making an alright film based on one of the greatest graphic novels put to paper is a monumental feat, so good on ya, even if it was alright.
Indeed, Watchmen the book is incredible in its storytelling, character use and overall messages, and is deserved in its total reverent, whereas the film, though it was a solid action superhero thriller, kinda paled in comparison.
The opener, however, as you’ve probably heard, is damn stellar. What took the book a good few chapters to do, the film accomplished in a matter of minutes, introducing the characters and setting without so much as a sentence. It looked spectacular as well, utilising Snyder’s pre-boredom slo-mo to awesome effect, establishing the film’s aesthetic perfectly. Preceding that, we have one of the best, most brutal fight scenes I’ve seen in recent times, with The Comedian getting the dick kicked into him like a mother before getting chucked aat (out) the winder (window).
This event kicks off the plot with a smash and what a plot it is. When The Comedian dies, fellow costumed vigilante Rorschach launches an investigation into what he is convinced is a “mask killer”, while something much larger is afoot which could change the course of history. The film and book take place in an alternate 1985 in which masked superheroes have been long outlawed and it has multiple moral and political messages, leading to it being discussed and pondered over for almost three decades now.
The film has multiple main characters, which could lead to some lacking screen time. However, the theatrical cut is still 2hrs and 42mins, so there is no worry about that, mostly. Firstly, my favourite character, Rorschach, played by Jackie Earle Haley, of A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) fame, is a still-masked vigilante conducting an investigation which drives the plot as well as keeping it an action thriller. His skewed view on the world leads the viewer to raise questions you wouldn’t think about while watching a superhero film. Haley plays him perfectly, capturing the essence that made the character so captivating in the graphic novel.
We also have Dr Manhattan, another goodun’, played by Billy Crudup. Like Rorschach in many ways, Manhattan has a unique outlook thanks to his omnipotent state, also making me think more than I’d care to. Moreover, like Haley, Crudup did a great job of bringing the character to life, being exactly how I’d imagined the character while reading the book. However, his phat blue wang made more of an appearance, which wasn’t particularly asked for, or greatly appreciated, thanks.
Before we continue further, I will be making a lot of comparisons to the book as they are very similar in plot and characters, which can be interpreted as either loyalty of laziness, up to you, really.
However, Nite-Owl, a character I was rather apathetic to in the book, did stand out to me, for all the wrong reasons. While he had the same kind of mannerisms as the source, Patrick Wilson didn’t really fit the role for me. Whether it was his performance or, more likely, the awful combover he sported, he was just a bit creepy really and didn’t have the same kind of likeability that his paperback counterpart had.
I’m just gonna blast through the rest of the performances, now, because I can’t be wingdinged.
We had Matthew Goode as Ozymandias who had transferred the smugness and feeling of superiority seen in the character brilliantly, but was tragically underused, especially considering his rather large role in the original narrative. Malin Akerman was Laurie Jupiter, or Silk Spectre II, I disliked her in this as much as I did in the book, so nice one, I guess, and Carla Gugino played her mother, Sally, or Silk Spectre I, thanks to some make-up, she was pretty good. Finally, Jeffrey Dean Morgan played The Comedian, which was a lot more prominent thanks to the flashbacks in the narrative. Out of all the supporting cast, Morgan impressed me the most because he was a lot different to how I imagined the character, but a lot better, bringing new life into the cynical musings of the character. Oh, and they dropped the weird gimp mask from the book, which is probably a plus.
Along with the aforementioned 300 and Sucker Punch, Zack Snyder established a certain look for his films early in his career. Sadly, however, he would become a parody of himself with Man of Steel and BvS. That being said, this film’s biggest high point is the overall aesthetic. The low lighting really captures the atmosphere of the book and even changes it to the darker tone that the narrative demanded. One of my biggest quarrels about the book was the seemingly lighter tone the colouring took. Be it some sort of twisted satire or not, it was quite distracting at the time and the film fixed that.
Another high point was the unyielding explicitness of the film, which was relieving considering the source material. The gore was very much present, with there being a few moments where I laughed in pure, sociopathic glee, as was the profanity and nudity, with Doc’s blue wang taking a starring role. It may seem slightly childish to praise a film for these points, but it was what made Alan Moore’s masterpiece so important; the uncomprising reality. Moreover, in a world where most comic book movies are saturated for maximum audience/profit, it’s nice to see one stick to its roots.
However, one very, very glaring issue stood out for me. Now, as I haven’t yet seen the director’s cut, which may or may not solve this problem. However, the theatrical cut, for all its 2hr 42mins glory, couldn’t find the time to fit in pivotal points that humanise the characters and setting. For one, there wasn’t enough Ozymandias for the reveal at the end to have any lasting effect. We also missed out on other conversations between other characters like Rorschach’s psychiatrist. However, the most shocking miss out was that of the news vendor and the kid reading the comic book, who ground the story and give it the extra layer it needs to get the audience emotionally attached to the outcome, with the two making a split second appearance at the end. Very poor.
Overall, Snyder’s take on Watchmen was not an overall failure but it was far from perfect. The majority of performances were pretty good, with Haley and Crudup being highlights. It was chocka with action and enough dope ass coolness to keep mainstream audiences interested, while keeping some of the messages that made the book so incredible. However, there were a lot of things missing which really disappointed me, as well as Patrick Wilson being a bit average and an abundance of blue wang.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations