Yes, I have read the original Watchmen book by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins. In fact, I just reread it to prepare myself for the intense analysis that would surely follow this adaptation’s release. So let’s get the important stuff out of the way, shall we?
If you’re a fan, will you enjoy this?
Yes, indeed you should. It’s all very exciting to see our favorite moments from the book shown on the big (IMAX, baby!) screen. Though do prepare yourself, you may be a little negative after your first viewing. That’s only natural. I felt the same way, but I’m sure that a few months, I’ll be incredibly happy with this film.
If you’re not a fan, will you enjoy this?
Yes and no. Yes, a lot of the important material from the book is there. So I can definitely see some newcomers loving this film. However, a lot of the book’s subtler moments and characters have been played down or completely cut from the film. Though a newbie can enjoy and even love this movie, it can’t compare to the affection you would have felt if you read the graphic novel first.
Alright, now that we’ve got the general stuff out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. To me, there are four things that composite a film adaptation: acting, score, look, and faithfulness.
Acting: Surprisingly good, I thought.
Dr. Manhattan/Billy Crudup: It’s mostly about the voice for him. He supposedly did all the motions for Manhattan, but that’s not very important. I liked his voice. He played it calm, collected, and alien, which is pretty perfect.
Laurie Jupiter/Malin Akerman: She was never once called Juspeczyk in the movie, by the way. Laurie was probably treated the worst in the book, from a creative standpoint. Moore didn’t really know what to with her (And that comes from Moore himself, so don’t stab me). In the film, Akerman plays Laurie as a badass chick and that’s about it. I think that’s Snyder’s take, not Malin’s. Malin did the best job she could, and the result it fairly positive. Although, without the complexities she eventually had in the book (See, I saved myself), her character was uninteresting.
Ozymandias/Matthew Goode: Easily the worst performance in the film. Some of that credit belongs to Snyder. I didn’t like his costume. He was completely played as a villain from the first time you saw him (More on that later). Goode never once made me believe that Ozymandias was trying to do some good. He just played him as a pretentious, rich prick.
Dan Dreiberg/Patrick Wilson: Honestly, the second best performance in the film. Dan is the hero of the film, as he should be. Though he looks a bit like Batman (Especially in this movie) and is based on Blue Beetle, he’s most like Spider-Man. He’s the everyman. Wilson just nailed the performance and since I’ve always been a fan of his, I couldn’t be happier.
The Comedian/Jeffrey Dean Morgan: The best performance in the film! Only in a few scenes, but he dominated the screen every time he was up there. Sounds like the Comedian from the book, right? That’s because Jeffrey Dean Morgan absolutely hit it out of the park! The dude is on Grey’s Fucking Anatomy, and yet, whether he was incinerating Charlie or pouring out his soul, Morgan demonstrated top-notch acting.
Rorschach/Jackie Earle Haley: Even though I have Jackie as my third best performance in the movie, he might have actually done the best job. Though his Rorschach ends up third in the “How much is he like his character in the book” category, Haley had it the hardest in this film. Rorschach doesn’t translate well to the big screen with his Batman-esque voice, short sentences, and mannerisms in general. The fact that Haley presented a mostly-faithful Rorschach is a clear sign of the man’s immense acting talent. Rorschach was a bit ridiculous at times, but Haley did a fantastic “hurm” and a few great lines,” I’m not locked in here with you! You’re locked in here with ME!”
Score: The original music was just ok. I didn’t notice it much. Didn’t some idiot say “If you don’t notice the score then that means it’s great”? Anyway, what I can talk about is the soundtrack. We get that stupid My Chemical Bullshit cover of Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row during the end credits. Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable is in a Nostalgia commercial while the Comedian is fighting for his life. Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ is played over the opening credits. Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence is played over the Comedian’s funeral. KC & the Sunshine Band’s I’m Your Boogie Man is played while the Comedian is breaking up a riot (With violent results). Philip Glass’ Pruit Igoe & Prophecies is played during some Dr. Manhattan scenes. And of course, we get some of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries while the VC are getting slaughtered in Vietnam, sound familiar? There are a few more songs, but those are my favorites. They’re great (Except that Chemical Romance crap) and well-known, but they’re misused at times. Still, Watchmen’s music is pretty sweet.
Look: Filmed entirely for IMAX and I saw it on IMAX, I have to say, the film looked terrific. The makeup was a little weak at times and so were some of the costumes, but the sets and graphics looked great. It was thrilling to see things like Archie come to life, and I saw that ship at Comic-Con, which was cool as well.
Faithfulness: Ok, first off, as I said earlier, this adaptation was fairly faithful. However, just to geek out, I’ll try to remember everything that was different.
A big one was that Hollis Mason didn’t die. Uh, the lesbian, Joey, and her girlfriend were completely cut out. Actually, just about all of Watchmen’s human connection was cut out. So when New York blew up, you didn’t really care. In the book, we had followed Joey, the Newspaper salesman, the kid reading the Black Freighter comic, and especially Dr. Long (That guy was cool) for a long time. In the movie, we didn’t care about them at all. As I’m sure you already know, the squid is gone, but thankfully, the ending is pretty much the same. Although, the squid was one of those experiments that Veidt was working on, so without that, there’s no reason for his cat. And yet, his cat was still there to do nothing except die and again, I didn’t care. In the book, Dan never saw Rorschach die. In fact, did he even know about it? In the movie, Dan is out in the snow watching for some reason. Oh, of course you know about the Black Freighter and all the back matter getting cut out, right? At least we’ll have a DVD for some of that. There are more differences I’m sure, but I’ll stop here.
So overall, I really did enjoy the movie. The acting, score, and look were great for the most part. And this is probably as faithful as Hollywood will ever get with the Watchmen. I still have to stress, read the book first! Not only do you miss out on some layers in the film, but I also feel that many of Watchmen’s twists are telegraphed. I think it was pretty obvious who the villain is in the movie. Also, it is pretty much revealed who Laurie’s real father is within the first thirty minutes. So please, read the book first, folks. For those of you who already have, go out and have a blast!