It’s rare for a fantasy film to grab me. There are exceptions, of course. The Dark Knight was a remarkable film for various reasons. Iron Man was entertaining as hell. And there are others, but that’s another story. The point is that although I don’t typically enjoy these films, I do give them a fair chance.
Having said that, I thought Watchmen was garbage. Long, boring and completely self indulgent. When the film ended, I didn’t devote one thought to what I had seen, instead I wished there was a way to get my near three hours back.
A friend summed up the movie well: when it’s on, it’s on; and when it’s off, it’s way off. That’s true. At its best, Watchmen is a pulse pounding, eyebrow raising spectacle. Its credit sequence is like nothing I’ve ever seen, re-writing history as it sees fit. Unfortunately, the film never lives up to that opening promise.
The movie, based on the beloved graphic novel that has reached über-cult status, is about a band of underappreciated superheroes who may or may not be getting picked off by some vengeful maniac. They live in 1985 America, Nixon is on his fifth term, and the Cuban Missile Crisis is a hair trigger away from jumping off.
As the characters are introduced, we discover that they have no supernatural powers, except Dr. Manhattan, who can pretty much do anything imaginable. All the other Watchmen just dress up in tacky costumes and when it is time, they kick some serious ass. But where does this ass kicking come from? We’ve seen no training, no working out, no nothing. A dorky, overweight scientist and a small hottie somehow manage to take down eight weapon-totting thugs? Huh?
The acting is so bad that most of the audience laughed at times that were meant to be serious. Jackie Earle Harley (brilliant in Little Children) is pretty convincing as Rorschach, a badass little psycho who can take anyone down. But what’s with the mask? I get the joke… the shifting ink blots that run over his face resemble that of a psychological Rorschach test, but how are the ink blots moving like that? Is the cloth mask made of some electrical device? I just didn’t get it.
Then there’s The Comedian. I’m not sure how director Zack Snyder wants us to perceive this atrocious man. He beats the shit out of a helpless woman before nearly raping her, shoots a very pregnant woman in the head, and commits other acts of ludicrous violence. Am I supposed to sympathize with this guy? Hate him? What?
Snyder’s last film was 300, a movie that had just as many fans as it did critics. I was the latter. I thought it was a contrived, over the top mess. But it’s safe to say, if you liked 300 you’ll like Watchmen.
And please, spare me the “if you read the novel you’d appreciate the film even more” bit. That’s total bullshit. Films are judge solely as what they are, films. If a book needs to be read before the viewing a film for maximum appreciation, then the entire book should be flashed on screen before the picture begins. I’ve seen hundreds of films without first reading the book they were based on, and loved them just the same. I saw Sin City several times before I read those graphic novels, and thought the movie was great from the start. In fact, I can’t wait for sequel. Not something I can say about Watchmen. D