“Watchmen” is directed by Zack Snyder, the accomplished director of “300” who innovatively fuses graphic novels and movies in his slow-motion heavy productions (a nod at sequential art’s signature use of dynamic poses and memorable key pose-based action sequences.)
Few are probably as qualified as he when it comes to directing this movie. “Watchmen” is the critically raved “Citizen Kane” of graphic novels. It achieved monumental recognition for graphic novels as an art medium and became a timeless classic.
It was also one of the first graphic novels that incorporated movie still-like panels and a motion picturesque script (it was just waiting for the right director to take it out of the stone).
While the scenes of “Watchmen” progressed, many of the audience members appeared to be genuinely satisfied with Snyder and his crew’s efforts to reproduce the world of “Watchmen” even to the smallest details.
The scenes, the costumes, the actors: they all looked like they just popped from the comic and into the big screen. Many of the actors and their voices are eerily dead-on accurate as to how we conjure them in our mind. The crew also painstakingly recreated a city block that replicated the graffiti-filled ’80s urban landscape of downtown New York City (yes, Bernard and Bernie are there) and nearly all of the flashback locations.
Watching the simplified hue-based comic transposed into interior shots that mimic the exact action in the comic made several fans uncontrollably excited. Authenticity: check, and a big bow to Mr. Snyder.
Now we turn to the primary focus of the comic and the movie, our characters: the Watchmen.
Almost everybody’s favorite character, Rorschach, was favorably depicted throughout the movie. His uncompromising personality, his dirty noir costume, his hoarse monotone all are genuinely reproduced. This also includes how off-the-wall violent the man is. Especially during the memorable prison fight scene.
Somewhere, Snyder’s stylized action met the wit of Tarantino and the gadgets of “The Dark Knight.” All three became in-sync and went on full-throttle and guns blazing. Needless to say, the newcomers were dreadfully shocked and awed by Rorschach’s prisoner treatment and his flashbacks.
The Comedian (Jeffery Dean Morgan) was surprisingly suave, smoothing out his controversial actions. It’s not the first thing come to your mind when you think about this bombastic modern day Rhett Butler, but his portrayal seemed genuine and possessed an American quality that’s subtly awesome.
The Nite Owl was sympathetic and heroic in the movie; his appearance and his actions matched the character verbatim. His gadgets are marvelous, especially Archie in the rescue scene. The first Nite Owl was also ably casted (Stephen McHattie). His flashbacks were memorable and sincere.
Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) was nothing less than omnipotent in the movie. He is as powerful as he was depicted in the graphic novel, but also effortless. As he stoically strides about, making paint blotches out of his enemies, many of the viewers marveled at his absolute, unchallenged power.
Silk Specter II (Malin Akerman) and her mother (Carla Gugino) both give performances that might best be described as wooden. Both ladies looked eerily like their portrayed characters, but both lacked a sense of drama in their acting. Overacting could easily be attributed to the performance and the older Silk Specter (played by an actress of the same age as the younger) never has an “aged” air that makes her believable.
Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) seemed to arouse the most problems in regards to acting. He almost never annunciates his words, so it became difficult to understand him. His actions are over-the-top and there is an awkward quality about his character.
These minor frustrations are almost unnoticeable hindrances to appreciate the film though. After all, you can’t aim for the achievement of “The Dark Knight” with a huge ensemble cast.
The movie is a faithful and adequate transportation of “Watchmen” on the silver screen. The fans will love this movie for its details, and movie-lovers will appreciate Snyder’s stylistic insertions that were every bit as spectacular as “300.” Some acting problems are present, but since the novel is character-driven, just focus on appreciating the content and style.
Nearly all the aspects that were important in the novel are present in the film. These scenes are obsessively set up and mimicked to look exactly like the comic book. All of the characters looked their part or channeled a persona that resonates with any of “Watchmen’s” readers.