Dir: Zack Snyder (300)
Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Carla Gugino, Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Matthew Goode, Stephen McHattie
Seen: March 8, 2009 at Scotiabank
Reason to see: Honestly, the hype was what made me feel obligated to see it. I did want to see it before reading/seeing/hearing all the reviews.
Coming from the perspective of not reading the graphic novel and only seeing the original trailer, I have to say that Watchmen was not what I was expecting. It is not like other comic book adaptations or superheroes films with glossy effects, mile a minute action and strong focus on plot.
It's a rare day when I would consider criticizing a film based on not having enough plot. I anticipated it being the opposite, that there would be so much content that it would be hard to follow. But it isn't hard to follow, it's easy to follow so much so that I found myself left with time to wonder "What am I even following?". Nothing actually seemed to be happening, which can be fine but if that is the case it better at least look awesome, or great sound, or transcend to something or somewhere. I didn't find any of these things. We are set up with a mystery to be solved (there is that plot trying to nudge its way back in) but are entrenched in speculative world history, the dark 'current' world, the looming future and then numerous characters all with lengthy back stories. When the dust settles after establishing thsi world, it feels like not much happens. As time went on it became clear that there is a focus and a point, but it takes a fair amount of time to bring you there.
It did please the fans, I could sense that in the packed house at the weekend matinee screening. You could even feel it watching the film with nostalgic touches, notable character entrances and many other moments I'm sure that as a non fan I missed. I'm a big believer in visual storytelling especially when creating an alternate or speculative universe. That history and stories can be shown in such a way that you instinctively understand without being told through dialogue or voice overs. I did leave with a feeling of what it could have been, that somehow it could have transcended and captured the wider audience of fan and non fan alike. But then again, maybe it is best left for its fans to enjoy.
Warnings: The film strongly embraces its 18A rating. Violence, blood, nudity are rampant throughout. Sexual violence.
Shannon's Overall View:
It was not what I expected
I'll watch it again, after reading the graphic novel
I'd recommend it fans of the graphic - although I'm sure they've seen it already
20 minutes of preshow including 4 commercial, 2 minutes of darkness while they handled a tech issue (1/2 the screen was blue) and 6 previews: Up, Public Enemies, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek, Observe & Report and Terminator Salvation
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© Shannon Ridler, 2009