Somebody once said something about the best intentions. It applies to comic book adaptations too.
Far too often, comic book movies are made simply from a studio cherry-picking through the DC or Marvel archives, pillaging a character’s entire profile and eventually squirting out superhero cliff notes.
And their reasoning behind this is that it will make the best superhero picture possible. Best more often than not, means a movie that’s accessible to the public, ignoring the fans that brought the character to its initial popularity.
So what would happen if a studio and a director teamed up to make a film for the fans? Would it mean a movie inaccessible to the public?
The answer isn’t clear. But with a published work as head-scratchingly enigmatic as “Watchmen,” it means that an alarming number of theatergoers are going to dislike, if not downright hate, this film.
For anyone who has not read the “Watchmen” graphic novel and has an interest in seeing this film, put this newspaper down right now. Go out and buy the book. Clear two days off your calendar, read it through the first day and then reread it again the following day. You’ll not only appreciate the film more, but you’ll actually be able to comprehend what is going on.
Taking place in an alternate 1985, the United States and the Soviet Union stand on the brink of nuclear annihilation. Richard Milhous Nixon is in his fifth presidential term, and the “Keene Act” has made it illegal for superheroes to carry out their duties.
The film opens with an elderly man, Edward Blake, making a cup of tea and channel surfing in his bathrobe, when suddenly an intruder enters his dark high-rise apartment. After a vicious confrontation ensues, Blake is hurled through a plate glass window, plummeting to his death.
What the audience soon comes to find out, is that Blake was known as The Comedian – a former superhero and member of the Watchmen team.
From here, the story follows Rorschach and the rest of the Watchmen as they unravel a conspiracy surrounding a serial killer who may be trying to wipe them all out.
Director Zack Snyder, who made a name for himself with “300,” has grown immensely over the past two years, moving away from monosyllabic warriors and brooding skylines toward a new cinematic masterpiece. Emotionally deep, visually stunning and thought provoking, Snyder has taken an unfilmable piece of material and created the magnum opus of comic book motion pictures.
Like the comic, the beauty of “Watchmen” is in the details, whether it is a Hustler magazine on a coffee table, a Sally Jupiter Zippo, or a muzak cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”
In the simplest words however, “Watchmen” is not a happy film. Don’t let the smiley face fool you. It is cold, crushing and supremely violent.
By the time Lee Iacocca gets iced in the second act, it is clear that this picture is not only looking to rack up a fine body count, but it is also looking to take some points for creativity. It contains numerous human combustions, severed limbs, poisonings, burnings and probably the finest compound fracture in a film since David Cronenberg’s “The Fly.”
For every fan of the original comic, this movie is hotter than a slice of fried gold. If you haven’t flipped through the pages of the book before, be forewarned. This film may not be your cup of tea.