Droid takes one for the team and watches the ‘Watchmen’ Ultimate Cut.
Yep. I watched it. All three hours and thirty-five minutes of it. And despite adding nearly an hour of extra footage, including the ‘comic within the comic’ “The Black Freighter”, the problems with Watchmen remain.
Based on the overrated fanboy funnybook by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen is based in an alternate America, between the 1930’s and early 1980’s, where ordinary (and not so ordinary) people dress up as hood ornaments to fight crime. Years after being outlawed, these crime fighters come together again to unravel a mystery surrounding the murder of one of their own.
Known as Minutemen, there’s Night Owl (Patrick Wilson), a pudgy technogeek with a serious case of erectile dysfunction; Silk Spectre (Malin Åkerman) who has daddy issues and seems to find sucking on a battery arousing; Rorschach (Jackie Earl Haley), a deeply disturbed bloodnut and quite literally a dirty son of a whore; Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), an effeminate billionaire and ‘the smartest man in the world’; The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who generally speaking, just isn’t a very nice guy; and Doctor Manhattan (Billy Crudup), a blue skinned nudist with a penchant for hiding his dong just out of frame (or behind a budgie smuggler). These characters come together to crap on about quasi-philosophical garbage and to slow-mo fight their way through a poorly constructed conspiracy mystery.
There is such a thing as ‘too faithful’, and after “300” and “Watchmen”, director Zack Snyder has proven that he is about as imaginative as Rain Man counting cards. By spewing each frame onto the screen, he has essentially made a moving version of the funnybook. Snyder has revered the source material so much that he has lost sight of the fact that what works on the page, doesn’t always work on screen.
Snyder has made a number of severe miscalculations; the music in particular is annoying and obvious. “Ride of the Valkyries” for a Vietnam scene? “Hallelujah” for a love scene? That’s just lazy. And a truly bizarre and baffling use of “99 Luftballoons” which comes completely out of nowhere and lasts about 19 seconds before fading out. It’s like Snyder had it written into his contract that he must include the song in the movie.
Also annoying is the aforementioned over-use of slow-mo, and the constant movement of the camera. It seems as if Snyder was conscious of the restrictions he placed on himself by being so faithful to recreating every frame as it was in the comic that he attempted to breath life into the film by moving the camera in every single shot. In a static scene of dialogue or exposition he is constantly doing a slow push in. It’s annoying.
The performances as a whole are fine. Jackie Earl Haley is particularly good as Rorschach, but he benefits from having the most interesting character and the best lines. Ozymandias looks less like ‘the smartest man in the world’ and more like he should be dancing on the Kylie float in the Gay Mardi Gras Parade. He also has a staggering amount of superhuman ability for an ordinary human being. The bullet thing is particularly ridiculous.
Snyder hasn’t interpreted the funnybooks for the movies. Sure, he’s made a substantial change to the end, which was the correct decision. The squid in the comic is stupid, but it kind of works. At the very least, it’s easier to accept. If Snyder were to have featured a giant squid attacking New York in the movie it would’ve been laughed off the screen. So he had the foresight to change that, but has mistakenly kept infantile joke shots like the flame spurt.
The best part of the film is the Doctor Manhattan origin. It’s the one section that successfully translated from funnybook to screen. And it’s good to see Crudup without the CG dong and the weird lightbulb eyes.
The most enjoyable part of Watchmen, as in the comic, is “The Black Freighter”. A brutal tale of one mans descent into madness, the animated sequences in this Ultimate Cut are very effective and make for a welcome respite from the film itself.
The biggest problem with Watchmen, is that I just don’t think that the story’s relates to 2009. The original comic is a somewhat effective commentary of a particular time and state of the world. Now that the Cold War’s over, Nixons a distant memory, Vietnam’s old news and Viagra’s been invented, it feels irrelevant.
Watchmen did have potential, but it’s been kicking around for so many years that it’s time has passed and the list of those who DIDN’T direct or star in it, what could’ve been, is more interesting than that finished product.