Watchmen – Behind the Mask

7 07 2009

The announcement of Watchmen’s production, when it was made, made quite a few heads turn, though it mustn’t have been much of a surprise given Hollywood’s compulsion to film adaptations of successful novels, graphic or otherwise. The offer was put forth to Michael Bay initially, who refused it ( and thankfully so considering his latest debacle – the appalling ‘Transformers : Revenge of the Fallen’ ). Zack Snyder ( of ‘300’ fame ) picked it up then and three years later, he delivers. The film was touted to be a ‘faithful’ adaptation of the ( award winning ? sales figures go here) graphic novel authored by Alan Moore ( author of V for Vendetta ). Alan Moore, however, had a different say on the matter – He refused to be a part of the production team and unequivocal expressed his views on Hollywood’s ‘unhealthy’ affair with comics. I wonder if things would have turned out better if he’d joined the team.

‘Watchmen’ follows the time line of an alternate 1985 when the Americans and the Soviets are at the brink of nuclear war and costumed superheroes are common place. It is during such a perilous time when a retired superhero is murdered for no apparent reason. A vigilante investigates into the incident and uncovers a deep rooted conspiracy that changes the world and the course of its future.

The Watchmen

The Watchmen

The screenplay is kept in sync with the novel for most part, though there are places where the plot suffers from discontinuity and drastic change. But given the limited time frame, Snyder has done a commendable job. This is a strong point of the movie as it definitely wouldn’t have been able to survive without it – The novel’s complex and detailed plot requires every bit of screen time it can get. Nevertheless, the theatrical cut’s run time of 160 odd minutes does seem a bit short – There are places that fans familiar with the original plot might find cramped. Thankfully, such occurrences are kept minimal. Attention’s been paid to detail and the dark, gritty atmosphere of the book is replicated laudably. The film deserves every bit of its R rating for it spits language generously and keeps the violence well above visceral level (not to mention the nudity and sexual content).

Visual effects impress, as it is to be expected. Artistic license and CGI have been exploited to the maximum – Some of the movie’s best moments have those to thank for. The actual acting is passable but the overall depiction of the characters falls short of the book’s expressive ones. Once again, the limitation of time plays the spoiler. Many of the sub plots have been shortened but not an extent that it looses coherence. The film’s paced surprisingly well and the action kept tight (unlike the book where combat sequences were short and didn’t carry much weight. The obtrusive soundtrack ( not the original score, that was much better ) is a clear misfit though, for it ruins the atmosphere – The original score could have been put to better use, especially during the first half of the film.

By the time the movie had ended, I wasn’t as disappointed as I thought I’d be. ‘Watchmen’ is as good a book adaptation as it gets. While it may not be as compelling as the novel, it remains loyal to it ( within reasonable limits ) and brings out most of it’s goodness (badness, actually). I won’t go as far as giving the movie a rating but would recommend watching it before reading the book. But either way, you’ll still end up figuring out the differences and picking sides. And if you do watch it, go for the uncut version.

‘Watchmen’ on : IMDB | RT

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One response

7 07 2009
The Cinema Hub

Great post!

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