Sunday, March 1, 2009

Watchmen: By the Book, Perhaps Too Much...

Ok, here's the big one, the whole enchilada, the full monty, and other such things...I'm going devote a decent amount of time here to previewing the Watchmen movie, afterall it is my namesake.

Watchmen was originally a comic series created in 1985 which depicted the lives of retired superheroes against the backdrop of a world edging closer to nuclear annihilation. Writer Alan Moore gave us not only fallible, but thoroughly human protagonists, lacking true special powers save for the nuclear-age spawn Dr. Manhattan. Moore created a story so skillfully interwoven with the sociopolitical history of America and with such compelling characters that it rightfully elevated the comic book medium to a new level of legitimacy.

And ultimately Zack Snyder's film adaptation of Watchmen will hinge on the believability of the characters and nothing else. Critics are unlikely to give the movie a 'bye' if it only succeeds in capturing the visuals and given the quality of the source material that is more than fair. There's nothing wrong when you're thrown a script and the rights to a couple of back issues of The Punisher but when you're dealing with Watchmen you better at least try and get it right.

Visually, Snyder's Watchmen is a beautiful rendering of the comic, in the trailer alone you can pick out three scenes constructed shot for shot from the comic. The heroes also look quite good in their costumes, Rorschach in particular is a highlight with great attention paid to his inkblot mask. The effect comes off perfectly and I look forward to seeing what expressions Rorschach is given for different situations. I watched the behind the scenes exclusives on YouTube which show the impressive detail that went into the set and character designs, needless to say they spent a lot of time on it.

But, as with all comic book movies, the acting is the area that merits the most attention and concern. Much of the trailer dialogue comes right out of the comic book and mostly lacks the emotion to give it weight beyond plot exposition. Again Rorschach is a bright spot in the acting , but at times it feels like without his rasping drawl he would be as flat as the next hero. Dr. Manhattan is the shakiest in the trailer, with a voice that comes off as whiny and pinched, but that's just my personal preference for a guy who can mess with physics to have a voice that matches his power...

A big part of the acting issue is also that they're reading lines straight from the comic book. I maintain that the vast majority of comic book writing is not meant to be read aloud. That is why I am a huge fan of directors following their own interpretation of source material rather than just using the novel as a visual screenplay.

Overall the movie feels like too much of a direct translation of the comic book and that will most likely dampen the creativity needed to properly bring Watchmen to the screen. It will get serious points from fanboys for being true to the look but probably lose for being so dry in the acting area. Expectations are high and the movie can certainly expect to get hit critically if it does not live up to them...this isn't a Street Fighter movie after all....60%-79%

1 comment:

Past Expiry said...

Check out this cartoon about the Watchmen movie!
*CARTOON*Feel free to post on your blog or "tweet"