For years, fans of Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” have been salivating at the thought of a movie release. The graphic novel was so epic, so flawlessly written and illustrated that it seemed as though even a monkey with a camera could take the concepts and direct a movie worthy of around 12 Oscars.
Well the wait is over; “Watchmen” hit theaters March 9 and audiences everywhere sat through an almost three hour marathon of murder, sex, violence and full front nudity. While that might sound like a recipe for an instant action classic, the truth is “Watchmen” comes off as more than a casual moviegoer can handle.
Reading the graphic novel before seeing the film is not a must, but it certainly helps.
There are plenty of references to it. The characters’ dialog is almost the same, word for word, and there is so much going on at one time that it’s hard to keep track of it all unless the person watching already knows what’s going to happen next.
Staying true to the source material is nice for the fans, but for people who haven’t spent the last decade reading and re-reading the original, the references, jokes, and cameos will pose unanswerable questions.
Still, even with prior knowledge of the source material, “Watchmen” still has its fair share of problems.
Even though it’s clear the movie tries to recreate some of the best moments in the novel, it simply can’t. One scene in particular was Dr. Manhattan’s travels through Mars. In the novel, this introspective scene was a defining moment, full of sorrow and amazing art direction. It’s true that the scene in the movie is well done, but there’s no emotional attachment to the film version of Dr. Manhattan, so a lot is lost in translation.
The actors in particular also have a real problem of taking themselves too seriously. They seem to forget that they’re in a comic book movie. Malin Akerman’s portrayal of the Silk Spectre is particularly bad due to the constant drama-filled delivery of every single line she has. Add overwrought performances to a close-up happy cameraman, and “Watchmen” seems more like a soap opera and less like the epic tale of corrupted superheroes.
Speaking of corruption, kids are not meant to see this movie. Under no circumstances should anyone under 17 be allowed to come within 10 feet of the spectacle this movie puts on. Whether it’s Dr. Manhattan’s unmentionables constantly on screen or the Silk Spectre’s mid-air sex scene with the Night Owl, this movie pushes the “R” rating to the absolute limit.
Sex isn’t the only major issue either. Enough blood is let in the film to feed a family of vampires, and certain four letter words are thrown around with an alarming frequency.
While it’s true that the violence and sex are also prominent in the novel, everything the novel does, it does for a satirical point.
As it stands, “Watchmen” is an average movie trying to handle an epic premise. The framework of an epic movie was always there, but “Watchmen” fails to deliver on the extraordinarily high standard set by the classic novel.