Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode
Plot: When an ex-superhero is murdered, a vigilante named Rorschach begins an investigation into the murder, which begins to lead to a much more terrifying conclusion.
Genre: Action / Mystery / Sci-Fi
Rating: R21 for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and language.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
After the mega success of the swords-and-sandals epic 300, selecting Snyder to helm Watchmen was initially a very tantalizing choice. Well, that is until you have watched the actual film. Watchmen is 2009’s first (but definitely not last) colossal disappointment for a blockbuster that is so highly-anticipated. Critics are divided over the film and I happen to be part of the unforgiving half. On a more positive note, Snyder’s vision of Watchmen is faithful to its source material. This will please most hard-core fans whose patience is duly rewarded.
For the rest of us who are constantly scratching our heads during the film, it is extremely difficult to immerse oneself into the universe of Watchmen without prior knowledge or insight. Not that being armed with the prerequisites will allow one to enjoy the film much more. Watchmen has a frustrating narrative structure that is an incoherent synthesis of poorly-paced sequences and ill-timed flashbacks.
With the exception of Rorschach (who is brilliantly realized by Oscar-nominated Jackie Earl Haley), the other superhero characters appear as paper-thin portrayals of their novelized version. Furthermore, their costume and makeup is at best, amateurish. I do not see a band of genuine heroes but rather, a group of young adults attempting to live out their 'Watchmen' fantasies on screen.
The visual effects are average, sometimes even weirdly laughable, especially scenes of Dr. Manhattan with his exposed penis in desolate Mars conjuring up what seems like an enormous mechanical set of spinning gears and shafts in a bid to build his dream domicile. Slow-motion CGI action is a hallmark of Snyder, but it does not work well in a film that is already unnecessarily lengthy and abysmally-paced.
Filmmakers must understand that great films are mostly loosely adapted from its source; more focus is channeled to direction, editing, acting, and finally the need to entertain audiences. Zack Snyder showed that understanding in 300, but apparently lost it when making Watchmen. In an attempt to satisfy critical fans, Snyder has alienated the rest. Being loyal to one’s spouse is not enough; there is still that intrinsic need to entertain him or her. Watchmen will be a cult favorite, but it is unabsorbing and pretentious filmmaking.
GRADE: F (4/10 or 1.5 stars)