Watchmen (2009)

(In theaters, March 2009) As someone who has read the original graphic novel about four times since the mid-nineties and owns the deluxe slip-case Absolute Watchmen edition, I’m really not the reviewer to go to for a cold appreciation of the film as a film. But as an adaptation of a dense and iconic source, it’s about as good as it can reasonably be: the thrill of the film becomes the variations where director Zack Snyder (who here directs his best film to date) plays a bit with the source. The opening credit sequence is a wonderful example of respectful deviation, and the squid-less ending actually works better than the book in reinforcing the whole “you must kill your gods” theme of the material. Not so good is that the implicit thematic rumblings of the source become dull explicit dialogue when they’re simply not left behind entirely. (I suspect that for all of the gore in the film, it’s a bit thematically bloodless, and never quite gets down to ordinary people) Meanwhile, the soundtrack choices are of the hits-you-on-the-nose variety. Characters are faithfully rendered, although some (namely, Silk Specter II and Ozymandias) shine less brightly than others. While the film is more than two-and-a-half hours long, its never feels dull –although the pacing of the film felt far less urgent than I would have preferred. On the other hand, there’s a lot of material to process here, especially for those who can’t quote the lines along with the character. I hope that the upcoming DVD extended edition (which I will faithfully buy) works a little bit better as a film rather than an adaptation. But you will have to ask others regarding that, because at the moment, I’m a happy fan.

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