Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Watchmen wears out its welcome
By John Dacapias
Watchmen will undoubtedly launch Zach Snyder’s cinematic star into the stratosphere, but viewers in the know will see that after only directing two films (the remake of Dawn of the Dead and 300) he wears the emperor’s new clothes. He may be able to direct an action scene competently, albeit with his hyperactive slow motion movements, or as I see it, slowed motion. A person will throw a punch; the screen will slow down as if in a stop-motion progression then continues in its fatal movement, but he can't direct the simple act of having two characters talk to one another in an involving manner. This is deadly for a so called “visionary.”
Those looking forward to a frame-by-frame recreation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s graphic novel will be duly satisfied but to what extent that this has been slavishly done will be debated for ages to come. True, the ending of the comic has been changed (SPOILER). No longer do we see a multi-tentacled monster releasing psychic waves to destroy New York, but Dr. Manhattan will be perceived as the “enemy” to stop the impending nuclear war between the United States and Russia, in an alternate American history of the early '80s, specifically 1985.
With more than two hours and 30 minutes in which to play, the ponderousness of the presentation was maddening to say the least. With no ounce of humor in the proceedings, the uninitiated will come in expecting a classic action film, of epic battles between good and evil, not static discussions of what it means to be middle-age superheroes, of men and women who still put on a cape and mask, in a world that no longer wants or even needs them.
Of the actors, Jackie Earle Haley was pitch perfect as Rorshach, the angry superhero of the ever-shifting mask, still seeing the world as black and white and trying his damnedest to ensure the balance remains on the side of the good. Everyone else may have looked their individual parts but brought near nothing below the surface, e.g. Billy Crudup’s Dr. Manhattan was a nude, blue toned wonder, but was resigned to whispering his lines as if he was channeling HAL 9000 from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
It must say something then that Alan Moore, the wordsmith behind Watchmen, has taken his name off of the advertising and credits of this film version. Perhaps having the general public reintroduced to Watchmen would do some good in bringing more luster to the “graphic novel” genre.