Watchmen (2009) Review

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RATING: 3/5

[SPOILERS]

The death of a superhero prompts others to investigate the cause, which leads to a whirlwind of self-identity.

Since I enjoyed the recent HBO show, I figured it is appropriate to check out, in full, the polarizing superhero flick from visual director Zack Synder.

With all of Synder’s films, the first thing I should point out was the visuals. Yes, the visuals in this, for the most part, worked so well. It looked as though the director had translated pages from the comic onto the big screen, to a T.

Along with that, the colors popped but at the same time were tone down slightly for the grim, cold war setting. The cinematography was great in a number of scenes. I like it whenever the moon was in the background in the sky. I loved it in the beginning when Rorschach entered through the window of the Comedian’s apartment. There were wide shots of the entire city that looked gorgeous.

The camerawork all in all was really good. Getting the viewer invested in the world and story in the right way. That worked especially for the very first scene. One wasn’t told bluntly the world of “Watchmen,” but rather it gave clues and hints of what it was like. Teasing the viewer for what was to come later on perfectly.

Performances were fine. Even though I really liked Rorschach, I have to say I hate his voice. He tried way too hard at sounding like Batman. Which I don’t necessarily blame the actor Jackie Earl Haley for, I blame “The Dark Knight” and Warner Bros. But yes some of the actors do good work and some give average work.

I liked the costumes for Rorschach, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, and The Comedian. Ozymandias’s costume I didn’t like one bit. It reminded too much of “Batman & Robin.” It looked cheap and I prefer the original purple robe costume.

The violence was there, but the very questionable CGI says otherwise. The alley fight was good and it looked pretty convincing. Enough to make one turn away in a flash, that’s for sure. Other times the poor CGI stood out.

Now, this was a long film. That’s not to say I wasn’t exactly bored with it; as there was plenty of substance to get one to think. But I feel like this movie, compared to the comic and the HBO show, it felt dumb down. The visuals and scene-to-scene recreation can get in the way a lot of the time.

There was a scene where Rorschach struggled in wanting to kill a serial killer. In the film, he straight up killed him. In the comic, he gave the killer an intense choice. Stuff like that would have added more depth. The themes/messages were tapped on but weren’t given time to be further developed.

Speaking of things not being developed, there were subplots interjected in here that needed to be explored more, like Ozymandias’s entire role. I didn’t really care for him. His motive was interesting, but his bland performance brought it down for me.

Now with there being 6 members of the Watchmen, the film tried to dive into each one’s backstory, but it felt a little all over. My favorite was the origin of Dr. Manhattan. That was almost like a perfect short film, but the length of it can distract one from the main plot of the movie.

While Synder can deliver visuals fine, he can also deliver visuals poorly. Like the weird mostly grayscale that he decided to pull in the climax. Outside of Dr. Manhattan and the Antarctic setting, the colors looked muted and lifeless. I mean it’s not really gray, but still, the city setting was full of popping colors and there was life happening.

Zack Synder is a director I don’t personally like. He is a guy that would always put visuals over story any day of the week. Though I will say this is a film, where the most part, the story did have a level of intrigue. There were good performances, the cinematography was nicely done, the world setting was cool, and a lot of the presentation was captivating at points. But, a direct on-screen adaptation of an acclaimed comic isn’t going save everything. The pacing, some of the visuals, poor CGI, some bland performances, and directing more attention onto subplots than others, were things that could have made this film something special.

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