Timeshredder’s Journal. March 7, 2009. Returned from watching the Watchmen. Brilliant adaptation. Several serious missteps. Alan Moore has complained of disturbed fans he meets at conventions. Person with bad hygiene, admires Rorschach. Claims to be like Rorschach. Moore says he wants to back away from that person, demanding they never approach him ever again.

That person sat behind us in theater. Most distracting. Wanted to hit him with metal lunch tray.

On to review. Expect spoilers.

Cast and Crew

Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Alan Moore, David Hayter, Alex Tse, David Gibbons.

Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach
Malin Ackerman as Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre II
Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhatten/Jon Osterman
Patrick Wilson as Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II
Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias
Jeffrey Dean Morgan The Comedian/Edward Blake
Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre
Robert Widen as Richard Nixon
Matt Frewer as Edgar Jacobi/Moloch
Stephen McHattie Hollis Mason/Nite Owl

Laura Mennell as Janey Slater
Frank Novak as Henry Kissinger
Clint Carlton as young Hollis Mason

Full Cast and Crew may be found at the imdb

Premise

Film takes place in an alternate 1980s. Superheroes have existed since late 30s. The world is a different place and Nixon remains president. While threat of nuclear annihilation looms and the world cries out for help, someone begins killing masked vigilantes.

High Point

Film has opening to make jaw drop, nerds and film fans drool. Faithful adaptation of Comedian’s death. Next sequence sweeps through history of costumed vigilantes and the changing times, true in spirit to Hugo-winning graphic novel but a piece of its own, true also to medium of cinema. Awe-inspiring. Wish film could have maintained this approach. Bulk of film tries to be too faithful to original, but cannot possible capture same depth. Characters lack room to breathe.

The movie at times does deliver us these characters. Dr. Manhatten’s origins retold to good affect. Not typo. Reread.

Jackie Earle Haley stunning as Rorschach. Character sociopathic but compelling. Understand his appeal while shocked by him. Haley gives perfect delivery. Even looks like Gibbons drawing. Has traveled great distance since Kelly Leak.

Observe everything. Even small points carry meaning. Film had to eliminate much of what gives the novel depth, deep as the pools of the blood shed in this film if accumulated in one place. Director tips hat in several ways. Design elements recall Gibbons’ art, and since room does not exist for the news vendor and the kid reading Tales of the Black Freighter we at least see both, pass them in the streets. Nice touches. Will watch again.

Low Point

Nerds mourn absence of squids. In fact, ending fine this way for motion picture. Enhanced fight scenes also driven by cinema. What does not work is execution of changed ending, the parry and riposte in Antarctica. Style and tone of dialogue reflects Hollywood superhero movies. Clash with original Moore tone and dialogue obvious.

When music works, it works well. When it does not, it is a disaster. Overdone, overplayed clichés that detract from scene, too over the top. Cannot be certain what director intended parodically. Funeral scene good example. Also, sex scene on board Archimedes.

Sex scene on Archie. With so much to cut, why does this remain? Excessive and off-tone. Accompanied by overdone music. Not offended by nudity and sexual content elsewhere in film. Aware same scene happens in graphic novel, but presented in a manner more suited to the story. Are we such whores that we must have this, even if another kind of scene might have better served the story and its characters? Hollywood is an extended gutter through which visceral thrills must flow.

Observe everything. Nits to pick. Nixon’s make-up looks phony and overdone. Resembles a cartoon character. In reality, Nixon did resemble a cartoon character, but here it looks wrong. Overdone. Better to just have actor who vaguely resembles Nixon. Imitates style, like Frank Langella. Frank Novak as Kissinger more convincing. Kissinger also resembled a cartoon character.

Miss the days when politicians resembled cartoon characters instead of aged underwear models.

The Scores

Originality: 3/5 Watchmen adapts existing work. Generally very faithful. Reminded of how groundbreaking original was. Deeper issues remain relevant. Twenty years of comics and adaptations made of superheroes by whoring corporations owe debt to Alan Moore.

Effects: 6/6.

Story 4/6. Story covered under High and Low Points. Pay attention.

Acting: 5/6. Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach discussed under High Points. Other performances vary. Generally good. Jeffrey Dean Morgan gets into Comedian’s skin. Matthew Goode miscast as Ozymandias. Don’t know what happened there. Performance mailed in from mainstream superhero movie.

Production 6/6. Alternate New York, plains of Mars, all convincing. Watchmen brings a world founded on the original to screen. Fans should be pleased.

Emotional Response: 5/6. Enjoyed film. It lacks the depth of the graphic novel, but it will appeal to fans. Wife has not read graphic novel. Unlike some reviewers, understood and enjoyed movie nevertheless. Understands “satire.” She found violence excessive. Violence by nature is excessive. Will read graphic novel. I will reread it.

Overall 5/6. If you liked Watchmen or you enjoy this kind of thing, if you are reading this site and not The Hollywood Reporter, you will like this film. You may not love it.

In total, Watchmen receives 34 out of 42.