Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It was bound to happen eventually.

I'd read how great it was.

I'd read how boring it was.

I'd read how faithful it was.

I'd heard it was amazing.

And, after reading and hearing so much about it, I got around to watching it myself.

That's right, I finally saw Watchmen.

By now, you've either seen it, read more than you ever wanted to about it or have been living underneath a rock (a rock with wifi access apparently if you're reading this).

I didn't hate it. I'm not sure I liked it though either. I was very 'meh' about it. I'm glad I watched it, and there were certainly things about it that I enjoyed...but, I think I still fall firmly in the 'it's unfilmable' camp. It's just too complicated of a story to do in a medium like film. You'd have to really adapt the story differently and it trying to remain ultra faithful to the source, it falls short.  

Watchmen is the kind of movie that needs characters you're familiar with. It works in the graphic novel because you can spend time on backstory. In the movie, well, much of the backstory is lost, and it suffers for it.

I blame director Zack Snyder. In his efforts to remain 'faithful' he gets the look right and he gets the story right-ish...but something is still lacking.

It reminds me a bit of the adaptation of Douglas Adams' The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. One of the things that Adams does well in the book is write jokes. And one of the worst things the movie did was set up Adams' jokes from the book, and then fail to deliver the punchline. Sure, it was still funny and enjoyable enough, but you knew something was lacking.

Watchmen all but puts it in writing that, with the exception of Dr Manhattan, these are all regular people. It makes very little effort to even try to explain why an ordinary person would put on an utterly ridiculous costume (and many of them are just godawful) and parade around fighting crime.

Sure, with an infinite amount of time to tell the story, Snyder would have answered every little question, delved into every character. I have no doubt there. And that's kind of the problem that I had with it. I really would have prefered that Snyder took the story and put his mark on it. Tell it his way. You don't have to use the comic as a storyboard to make a good adaptation. But, because that's what he decided to do, the end result is a movie that isn't nearly as good as it's source.