Watchmen takes place in an alternate 1985, where superheroes are very real and so is the threat of full-scale nuclear war. The United States and Russia are vying for power in a veritable pissing match over who has the most nuclear weapons, and the Doomsday Clock is five minutes to midnight.
Against this pleasant backdrop, we have the murder of The Comedian, a former superhero who was a part of the now-disbanded crime fighting group, The Minutemen. Masked vigilante Rorschach investigates The Comedian’s death and tries to unravel the mystery of who would kill this superhero and why. As he digs deeper into this whodunit, other former masked adventurers begin to suspect that Rorschach is onto something, and that they may all be at risk of being murdered themselves.
To the comic fans, despite your reasons for an outpouring of nerd rage over this film, I suggest you just suck it up and accept it, because this is as close as anyone is, or was, ever going to get to translating the Watchmen graphic novel to film. I’m not saying it’s flawless by any means — no film is — but it’s hard to imagine how one could do better in taking this nigh 400 page graphic novel and converting it into a 2 and a half hour film. Zack Snyder should be commended for not fucking up as much as he could have. Honestly.
Since he got more things right than wrong and for the sake of brevity, I’ll pretty much just focus on what I didn’t like about the film because that’s just the kind of optimistic guy I am!
You know how I make Inappropriate Soundtracks by taking music and putting it to a scene from a film to make it ironic and comical and thus, take you out of the movie?
That altered scene I just posted was less jarring than most of the music cues in Watchmen.
Look, I understand that the film takes place in the 80s, so you’d want music that’s evocative of the time, but hearing “99 Luftballoons” and “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” during the scenes where they were used in the film, it just seemed… inappropriate. If they released a soundtrack album, I would like almost all of the songs on it, but the use of some of the music choices were less than ideal. It would’ve been more effective and dramatic in some scenes if they utilized a more proper orchestral score.
I also hate to say this, but in a sense, I think a detriment to the film is how closely it follows the comic. Dialogue and story progression in a graphic novel is approached differently than in film. Lines that sound perfectly fine in a comic can come out clunky when spoken aloud. The multitude of flashbacks and non-linear story progression, while expertly handled and novel back in 1985, almost seems a tad cliché and trite now. Then again, deviations can bring about nerd rage, which brings me to one of the major contentions that I’ve heard….
Yes, they changed the ending. If you haven’t seen the movie, but have read the comic, I guarantee you that your jaw just dropped after reading that. I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I’ll just say that you don’t have to worry. The change in the ending, when all is said and done, is quite cosmetic and not worth getting in a huff over. The ending they have is actually quite good and given what they focused on in the story, it felt like a natural conclusion. In fact, after my friends (who had not read the book) and I had watched the movie together, I told them how the graphic novel ended, and they looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears. In all honesty, those who have not read the book might find this ending superior because it felt more — for lack of a better word — real.
And now, some random thoughts:
• Rorschach’s amazing. He’s great in the graphic novel, too, so it’s expected, but if you had reservations about if they got him right or not, forget about it — they nailed him.
• The Comedian’s debauchery and douchebaggery was really brought to life. He’s way more menacing when seen in live-action.
• I honestly don’t remember that much graphic violence and sex in the graphic novel… although, I do remember that much blue cock. (Seriously, the amount of screen time Dr. Manhattan’s dong gets is about 5 whole minutes. No joke.)
Although, I enjoyed the film, I can’t really recommend it for everyone — this is a really violent deconstruction of superheroes, and if you aren’t aware of the construct, you might not be in on the joke. I mean, it is a joke, after all…. It’s all just a joke.