FSR’s Weekly Report Card for 03.06.09

FSR's Weekly Report Card


Studio: Warner Bros.

Rated: R for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and language.

Starring: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson

Directed by: Zack Snyder

What it’s about: In the highly anticipated adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic graphic novel, Watchmen is set in an alternate 1985 America where Nixon is still president and the world is on the brink of nuclear war. Masked vigilantes have been outlawed for years, but when one of the oldest heroes is killed, the other retired Watchmen start investigating. Led by the rogue element known only as Rorschach, the heroes come out of retirement to solve the murder and try to prevent global catastrophe.

What I liked: I come at this film like many folks out there on the internet. I read the twelve-issue limited series that was published in the 80s, back in the day when the 1985 setting was contemporary rather than historical. I also re-read the graphic novel a week before watching the film to brush up on the story.

As a fan of the book, I am very impressed with how Zack Snyder brought the movie to life. There are shots in the film that are lifted right off the comic book page, and the dialogue is brought to life right from the book as well. A lot of the original source material has been trimmed down, which makes sense considering how wordy and philosophical the book was, yet we’re still left with a 163-minute movie. It doesn’t run long, though, and it feels very manageable as a long film.

Some acting is incredible. The scene-stealer is Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan also turns in a phenomenal act as The Comedian/Edward Blake. After his ultra-boring stint on Grey’s Anatomy, who knew this guy could actually act?

I’m not sure if it’s really going to find a mainstream audience to push the box office in 300 territory, but considering how long we had to wait for this film to get made, it’s a sight to behold and probably the best adaptation you can expect for a feature release.

What I didn’t: While I loved Watchmen dearly, there was about five percent that didn’t quite work for me. The biggest problem I had with the film was Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II. Sure, she’s a treat to look act, but this girl simply can’t act. Her lines are delivered with the passion of a sloth on ludes, and even her emotional scenes are real yawners. I appreciate how beautiful she is as a woman, and I thank Zack Snyder for her nude scenes, but I find it hard to believe that this was the best they could do.

The other issue I had with this film was Zack Snyder’s ego. As much as he tried to give a panel-by-panel interpretation of the film, it seemed he wanted to improve on the book rather than adapt it. I’m not talking about the much-ballyhooed changed climax. That, I thought, actually worked in the present day context. I’m talking about the scenes where he made the story and sequences even more graphic than the book… when the book didn’t pull any punches in the first place. Also, there were two or three scenes where Snyder just couldn’t resist making an homage to fight scenes and sex scenes from 300.

The only other complaint I have about this movie was the use of real-life figures in some of the scenes. The McLaughlin Group in the opening sequence was hilarious, but this whole make-up feature was overdone and not done well enough in other places, like the attack on Veidt (was that really supposed to be Lee Iacocca?). And the guy playing Tricky Dick looked about as much like Nixon as the guy playing George W. Bush looked like Bush in the Harold and Kumar sequel.

Who is gonna like this movie: Watchmen fans who can get past their own whining about how so much was cut from the book.

Grade: A-

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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