“Watchmen” has a lot going for it. The psychology of these would-be heroes and heroines might be diminished to some degree but their impact is never dulled or diluted. And at almost three hours, we get a fairly faithful adaptation of Alan Moore’s most coveted brainchild.
With the exception of Billy Crudup and his intentionally catatonic and coolly rational portrayal of Dr. Manhattan, the use of lesser-known actors works greatly to the movie’s advantage and makes it far less a star vehicle than a means to express the ideas that Moore originally set out to convey. Both Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley, the former as the mild-mannered Nite Owl II and the latter as the ever-psychotic Rorschach, perfectly evoke a kind of sullen camaraderie between the two disillusioned, tired and disturbed characters and remain true to form with every molecule of their performance.
I’ll admit that up to now I’ve been skeptical of the eager-to-please director Zack Snyder, but it seems that he has begun to find his directorial wings and is finally allowing himself to break beyond the strictures of the source material that he constantly drifts toward. Similarly, Snyder brings a characteristic brand of glamorized, visceral action that twists and contorts in glorious slow-mo, something that has become a sort of calling card with his previous fare. Far less cerebral than its literary counterpart, “Watchmen” the movie still demands some respect for its ability to deliver such a dutiful (if not slavish) version to the big screen.
Die-hard devotees to the graphic novel shouldn’t be disappointed but those that are fail to realize the strengths and weaknesses of film as a medium and should simply take it for what it is, a movie not a comic. For those of you still skeptical, the answer is “no,” you don’t have to be a huge fan of the comic to get into this. Sure, a little background knowledge won’t hurt but experts need not apply. If you can get past all of that (and some occasionally weak supporting roles), then you should be able to enjoy this sexy, bloody and dark superhero parable without reservation.
Grade: B
-Andy Akada