Went against my better instincts and saw Zack Snyder’s Watchmen Monday. Woof. I was fighting myself, as, of course, Moore’s Watchmen and Miller’s Dark Knight melted my brain back in ’87.
I’ll make this quick, as who-the-hell-cares. What I liked:
- Stunning opening credits, except for the JFK/Comedian connection. Ponderous. Like a rhino with a paintbrush.
- Added scene with Rorschach and his therapist (surprisingly).
- Jackie Earle Haley and his performance in general. One of the few people in the film you care about at all. His last scene is really touching.
What I didn’t like so much:
- Malin Ackerman. She’s beautiful, and looks as close to a real world Laurie as possible, but… just wasn’t ready for this. Could have been the direction. In her defense, I wasn’t really blown away by anyone save JEH.
- The endless stop-start slo-mo bullshit. Everything doesn’t have to be fucking WAY COOL. Tell the goddamn story. Every action scene is a showstopper. If everything is amazing looking, nothing is amazing. Nothing has any weight. Snyder has no subtlety at all.
- The gratuitous violence: Bones snapping, close up on the arms being sawed, fetishizing the violence. Needless. And why did the Ozymandias/Rorschach/NiteOwl fight have to go on FOR YEARS? This isn’t the Matrix; the point of that fight was to show Veidt’s phyical dominance over both Rorschach and NiteOwl.
As Joe Jackson would sing, I could go on but what’s the use? Overall, I was surprised that I didn’t hate the changed ending. Maybe by that point I had given up. More than anything, I feel as if I compromised myself, and didn’t respect Alan Moore’s wishes as a creator. I went in with high hopes but low expectations, and came out feeling like a sell-out.
“Disappointed!” yelled Kevin Kline.
I will say this: it was beautifully shot.
UPDATE: Patton Oswalt has a great opinion on his myspace blog, completely dismantling my cynicism. He’s right. It was gonna get made no matter what. I think what I’m annoyed about is the inevitability of Hollywood narrative corruption (“I’m not sure if the blue penis works…”) and just the lazy acceptance of it.
Zack Snyder did a great job. I’m still not sure if that justifies the adaptation, but I’m glad it was Zack who did it, someone who clearly loves the material, even if I quibble with his execution of it. After all, what the f*ck have I directed?
It takes vigilance to not turn into Jeff Albertson.