Alan Moore has notoriously said he will never watch a film adaptation of his work, and after sitting through the two hour and forty five minute movie version of his classic comic, the "Watchmen", I think I'm starting to understand why. It's not that the "Watchmen" movie is bad, it's just that the nature of the medium is so different, that the nuances of the printed page are lost.
And whereas I thought the 2005 adaptation of "V for Vendetta" did a decent job translating Alan Moore's comic, the "Watchmen" lands somewhere in the middle for me. the "Watchmen" film isn't terrible, but it's not spectacular either, and left me longing to forget the movie, and go back and re-read the "Watchmen" book again.
As a regular reader of the "Watchmen" comic book when it came out in the eighties, I did feel like even at its epic length, the movie missed out on a lot of ground that was covered in the 12 issue series. And while there's an animated companion DVD that will feature the missing 'Tales of the Black Freighter' comic story that plays out in the "Watchmen" series, it's absence is felt in the feature length movie. Not only is this 'story within a story' gone, but we miss the interactions between the newsstand vendor and the teen-aged comic fan who appeared in every issue and added a much needed human perspective on the events in the "Watchmen" world as they unfold.
Another thing that kept throwing me off the "Watchmen" ride, was the choice of cliche' background music that kept cropping up. For example, did the cemetery scene really need to have Simon and Garfunkel's the "Sound of Silence" pumped over it? Hearing the song pulls the audience out of the movie universe, and added a layer of predictable cheesiness that didn't belong. That said, one of the times where the retro music interludes seemed to work, is when they re-purpose the Phillip Glass soundtrack to "Koyaanisqatsi" during a montage that reveals the villains master plan. The music is compelling and adds everything except a unique sound for the "Watchmen" movie to have.
To its credit, the "Watchmen" movie does it best to be faithful to the comic, and at times translates the work with panel by panel accuracy. The frozen photos seen in the opening credits sequence does well to provide a cool looking glimpse into the back story and Director Zack Snyder's signature slow motion fight camera work adds dimension to action scenes when they appear. And the former Bad News Bear, Jackie Earle Haley does a great job as the twisted vigilante Rorschach, and easily steals the show from the rest of the "Watchmen" cast.
While it still seems sad that Alan Moore refuses to have his name on any of the "Watchmen" movie materials, the film adaptation will hopefully inspire a new generation of readers to pick up the original "Watchmen" comic and enjoy Alan Moore's masterpiece as it was intended. Going to the bookstore myself, for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2009 - Purple - Air Date: 3/11/09
USA - 2009