Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” If that’s true, in the case of Watchmen the message should be, “stick to your medium.” Because if you haven’t read the book, don’t waste your time. If you’re reading this I’m not going to belabor the backstories of the graphic novel and the movie directed by Zack Snyder. In the event of an emergency the oxygen masks will deploy from the overhead compartments. And Awaaay We Go!
First the good. The visual effects are probably the best literal translation of the comic book panel since the “ZOK!” superimposed over the fight scenes in the 1966 Batman TV series.
Second the bad. The acting is atrocious. Defendant number one, Malin Akerman. I’ve seen particleboard with more emotive ability. There is a scene of coitus superherois between Akerman and Owl Man (Patrick Wilson) in the Owlmobile that I think is the sole reason Akerman was hired. And Wilson displays all the depth and range of paint drying. Mathew Goode, the anti-hero hero is right up there with gypsum board. The rest of the cast is burdened by makeup that they cannot overcome with their limited abilities (acting, not superhero).
Next the ugly. The absolutely gratuitous, pointless violence with compound fractures and blood squirting captured in glorious slow-mo close-ups a la The Matrix to inspire the next generation of Gary Ridgeways whose parents are too lazy or too damn dumb to know that an R rated movie like this is inappropriate for kids under 18. (It really should have been rated NC-17, not R). And did we REALLY have to see multiple shots of Dr. Manhattan’s MIRV?
Now the blasphemous. They changed the ending – and it was better!
Finally the point. Watchmen was a originally drawn and written as a graphic novel and is a master of that medium known as “panel art” to the Upper West Side (Dr.) Manhattan crowd and “comic book” to the Great Unwashed. While individual scenes and sequences may have been translated literally (or as best as possible) to the moving image, it is simply impossible to take an art form which is a stationary medium and translate ALL of it literally to the moving screen without the result resembling Rorshach’s ever-changing blobular mask. – in other words a confused, incoherent mess.
The bottom line. Contrary to the fanboys, film students, and critics, Watchmen is NOT another Battleship Potemkin (let alone Star Wars). However it is NOT League of Extraordinary Gentlemen either. It is an interesting failure. Should you spend your hard earned $7.50? Only if you can see it in a theater with five other people like I did. Wait for the dvd. The theatrical version, not the “special director’s nine millionth edit” release they are planning. Cuz crap with a cherry on top is still crap. But it’s not TOTAL diarrhea. Confused? So am I. Said the joker to the thief.