Watchmen

Synopsis: Someone’s killing our super heroes. The year is 1985 and super heroes have banded together to respond to the murder of one of their own. They soon uncover a sinister plot that puts all of humanity in grave danger. The super heroes fight to stop the impending doom only to find themselves a target for annihilation. But, if our super heroes are gone, who will save us?

The Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut is a new and final version of the blockbuster film from Zack Snyder. This version weaves Tales of the Black Freighter into the Watchmen Director’s Cut film.
***********************************************************************

Watchmen: Ultimate Cut 7.5

Sigh…

As can be expected from the director of the insufferably stupid ‘300’ (yes, I read and enjoyed Frank Miller’s original graphic novel first), ‘Watchmen’ has a great look, and style (and, yes, I also read Alan Moore’s original 12-part oeuvre beforehand!). However, any substance in the film is clearly due to the writing, not the directing.

In fact, the director, Zack Snyder, weakened the impact of the film tremendously by adding cheesy bits like the love scene (which amounted to no more than atrocious ’80s cable soft-core fare), gratuitous violence that was well beyond the framework of the book, and a half-assed animated feature (which, due to limited technical imagination, was segmented into short intermissions during the film – as opposed to being overlapped over the main story as it was done in its literary incarnation)

Some of these gripes, it could be pointed out, are specific to the so-called ‘Ultimate Cut’. However, it is the only way that I’ve seen the film: before it even came out in cinemas, it was announced that theatre-goers would see a pared-down version – so I waited until this third, and presumably final, version was finally released. After all, what’s the point of seeing an edited version of the filmmaker’s vision – other than to line the pockets of movie moguls, I mean? As has been proven with countless films, edited films frequently change the story in a dramatic way (case-in-point: ‘The Abyss’). So I decided to be patient.

Beyond those issues, though, everything else is quite alright: the acting is standard fare, the production is of high-calibre, the motion picture score is good enough (although the pop songs stuck out of scenes like sore thumbs), and the script is relatively faithful to the books – even if the few minor changes cheapen what was already a bit juvenile in the book at times (which, it must be noted, is something that is integral to much of Moore’s work – even with regards to mature content such as this).

What is sad is that ‘Watchmen’ is a lost opportunity: the story was much more relevant in 1985, what with the geo-political climate of the time. In that respect, it feels extremely dated and it doesn’t really hold up so well today; things have changed radically since its inception. Let’s just say that what would then have felt like a supremely intense real-world situation will only appear to be fiction to most viewers now.

As well, our pop culture ideals have morphed and gotten much darker, grittier. 25 years ago, no one would have expected that our heroes today would be more grey than the fallen superheroes of ‘Watchmen’ – but the comic series had an impact that couldn’t have been predicted and everything after it became more somber, more violent. Now it pales in comparison to what is offered to us daily; it seems rather tame, even if it was prescient.

In the end, the film version of ‘Watchmen’ is stylish, but it’s hardly the classic that the book was – part of the reason is context, part of it is the director’s hand. Yes, it’s nice that it was finally made into a film, but it could at least have been done with a lot more class.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s