Watchmen Movie Review

No Sunday politics today, but I will drop some thoughts about the Watchmen movie. I’m ambivalent about writing anything yet because I don’t feel my opinion is fully formed, but this is a blog dammit, so write I shall.

When I first left the theater, I knew I had liked a lot of the movie, but the few parts that I thought

Up and Atom!

Up and Atom!

didn’t work were really sticking out in my mind.  I think that for newbies to the story, the well-adapted whole will easily overcome the few weak parts, and the more distance I get from the movie the more I appreciate its better qualities, so it’s definitely a film I would recommend people see, if for no other reason than I want to talk about it with them afterward.

The easiest criticism I’ll level regards the quality of the music cues, which I thought declined rapidly after the brilliant use of Phillip Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi score during Dr. Manhattan’s Mars sequence.  “Hallelujah” and “All Along the Watchtower” were both TOO on the nose for my taste. “Hallelujah” should be retired from movie soundtracks for a while, and the point in the story where “All Along the Watchtower” is playing would’ve drawn me in more with an original score or, frankly, just more of the Koyaanisqatsi

Very very trippy.

Very very trippy.

score, which is AWESOME. You should get really high and watch THAT movie.

Anyway, those music choices aside, the Comedian’s assassination cued to “Unforgettable,” the Dylan over the fantastic opening credits, and the aforementioned Dr. Manhattan sequence are all great choices and highlights of the movie.  But one of the things I take away from the soundtrack and its relationship with the film’s best and worst scenes is that Zak Snyder’s directorial wheelhouse is in music videos and visually bombastic material sewn together by popular recordings.  Watchmen marks an evolution for him as a director, certainly, but I don’t think he has reached the level of “auteur-ity” (::groan::) that would have imbued the movie the creative force and impact of the graphic novel.

I don’t have a problem with the changes made to the story– generally I thought they were quite elegant alterations that made for a solid adaptation.  If anything, there may have been too much a feeling of transcription, related to Snyder’s auteuristic adolescence.  For instance, a number of violent moments in the second half were over the top and made me think of 300, which I found distracting on a visceral level (by images that showcase actual viscera, no less).  I thought the weakest point of adaptation was Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt, whose character comes off too thin.  The sense of moral paralysis and paradox in the story’s climax is harmed by the limited treatment of Ozymandias’ motivations.

Basically, the movie starts really strong, great even, and becomes more problematic as it goes on. But the momentum it establishes carries it through, it’s full of great performances, and as Roger Ebert put it in his review, Dr. Manhattan is the most metaphysically interesting character in modern superhero movies.  So really, how could I not recommend this movie as badass?

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