I did enjoy it, but I thought it was deeply flawed. Too much of a comic book, too little translation into the movie medium. Some of the visuals were fun. Some of the acting was good.
Here's something I've been dying to comment about. The New Yorker review. There's much to mock about it. His attack on comic geekdom would hurt if he knew anything. I wish most superhero geeks were 19 years old! We're a middle aged crowd, frankly. Oh, how I wish Pauline Kael was still at the New Yorker. She always thought before she stated facts, much less opinions.
In commenting about the original comic, he thinks Alan Moore wrote Rorschach's dialog seriously:
You want to hear Moore’s attempt at urban jeremiad? “This awful city, it screams like an abattoir full of retarded children.” That line from the book may be meant as a punky retread of James Ellroy, but it sounds to me like a writer trying much, much too hard...That's understandable: a whole generation of comics writers didn't understand Moore was mocking heroes like Dirty Harry and Charles Bronson in Death Wish. In the next issue's capsule review (not available online) the same reviewer now understands Moore's joke:
...any hint of political satire - as intended by the angry Moore - is drowned in a flood of brutal murk.But he also gets this gem in:
The task was to find a way of dramatizing Alan Moore's graphic novel - something of a cult among devotees, which means that, like all cults, it has escaped critical rigor.Watchmen. Never the subject of serious critical study. Has this man ever been to a college English department in the last twenty years? Obviously, "trying much, much too hard" is not one of his faults.
Back to the movie.
My view was tinted by having watched the greatest superhero movie of all time on DVD, The Incredibles. On the commentary track, Brad Bird talks about the need to slow down the pace once in a while, to let the movie breathe. Watchmen never breathes. It had the pacing of a nine panel grid.
The elder Silk Spectre made me wince. This is the most emotionally complex character in the movie and the comic book, and the role demanded a serious actor.
Ozymandias needed to be both knowing and innocent. Christopher Reeve would have been perfect. Why did this British actor sound German? I expected him to start saying "So, Doctor Jones..." Too villainous, too foreign, too homophobic.
Props to Jackie Earl Haley (from Breaking Away, as my friends at the movie told me) as Rorschach. Amazing. Mr Snyder is not an actor's director. Getting a good performance past a bad director requires both great skill and a little luck. God bless Jackie.
I don't necessarily object to the plot changes, but I don't think the screenwriter understood the story, character arcs, moral philosophy, etc, well enough to fill in the gaps. Nite Owl's speech to Ozymandias condemning his scheme was painfully bad. Ditto on Ozzy's speech to Lee Iacocca.
Enough with the complaints, it was a fun experience. The prison fight scene was cool, like something from Charlie's Angels or The Matrix. There were pretty naked people, but the choreography wasn't as good as the fights. And it was neat seeing scenes from the comic animated, like the robot Lincoln in Disneyland. I can't wait for the sequel!*
*Mr Anthony Lake, that last bit was joke.