Kelly Shaw (kellyshaw) wrote,

Random thoughts on Watchmen

Plenty of ink has already been spilt about Watchmen, with consensus opinion saying director Zack Snyder gave it gallant go. I don't disagree. It's a worthy production with lots of pretty pictures, a sensational credit sequence, an admirable loyalty to the source material, and an unwillingness to comfort the audience -- this is one violent, black-souled Hollywood picture!

But, Snyder's film is a paradox: very watchable yet oddly un-engaging. It lacks the texture of the graphic novel and an emotional, intellectual center. Many of the book's resonant character moments, such as Hollis' death and the newspaper vendor's social commentary, were excised. I'm hoping they were filmed and make their way into the 205-minute DVD director's cut, which I'm curious to see -- but only in close proximity to a bathroom! (Cinemas really need to consider bringing back intermissions for movies longer than two hours.)

Many mainstream critics have taken Snyder to task for being too faithful to the graphic novel. I wish he’d been even more faithful! By replacing the giant squid, he lost some of the book’s essential strangeness. And by introducing a little of the old ultra-violence, he makes the story all about the visceral. For the record, in the graphic novel Rorschach does not take a cleaver to the child-killer (he incinerates him), nor does the fat prisoner get his arms sawed off (he gets his throat cut). I may be picking knits, but Snyder’s changes are made not to advance Moore’s story but only to please the gore-hounds.

Snyder's Watchmen, ultimately, is worth seeing on the big screen, but it's too much about flashy surfaces to reach greatness.
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