Watchmen (2009) – Zack Snyder

Zack Snyder who is always great with visual images, but not the strongest director when it comes to story, takes on Alan Moore’s epic iconic graphic novel, the next stop in the Sci-Fi Chronicles.

Visually, the film tends to be very faithful to the original panels, of the comic book, capturing an alternate 1980s filled with flawed costumed heroes, who deal with age and their own faults even as someone seems to be killing them, and moving pieces on an unseen game board.

Featuring a stellar cast, the film clocks in at three hours, and will probably be the most faithful adaptation of the comic we’ll ever see, though the film’s climax has been changed from a threat of an alien attack to that of one of their own destroying cities around the globe, even as the Doomsday Clock ticks closer to a nuclear war.

The cast includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Malin Akerman, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Matt Frewer and Stephen McHattie, all seemingly perfectly fitted for their roles. With a few exceptions, the heroes are without super powers, relying instead on their tech, their knowledge, and their skills, all put into defending America.

The film has some great moments, and as mentioned looks great with some fantastic imagery. It is a solid take on the superhero film, bringing to life a story that some thought was unfilmable.

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It’s a fascinating story, spanning decades, and generations, and the story arcs are engaging, and while I will always prefer the source material, this ends up being a solid film.

The best thing about the film is that the characters all have faults, incredibly human faults, and they are three dimensional in their pursuit of truth and their perception of justice; they all have grey shadings of morality. The film also makes use of some great songs (although Hallelujah seems a bit on the nose for the scene it’s used for) to underscore its images.

The plot and the climax are well thought out, and the film’s conclusion raises all manner of ethical questions as the world unites.

The film is pretty entertaining, and translates some of the most iconic comic images from the past thirty odd years to the screen, and they look fantastic. Seeing the world Moore created brought to the screen in such a well-realised way makes me hope for Snyder as a director.

When he is given a proper script, he seems to do a fairly solid job. Unfortunately, some of his films don’t have the best stories (whether through studio meddling or not) and while they may look great visuals never trump story.

Happily, this time around, it all seems to work.

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