Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Last summer I somehow stumbled across the Watchmen trailer and was immediately fascinated even though at the time I had no idea what this whole Watchmen thing was all about (Wikipedia to the rescue).

Anyway, after watching Slumdog Millionaire on Tuesday I again went to the cinema on Wednesday evening, this time to see Watchmen. Just like on the day before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Even though to my disgrace I have to admit to actually owning the printed graphic novel yet never having gotten further than the first 30 pages or so.

The movie is off to a great start, the intro sequence alone is breathtaking, never mind the initial struggle depicted after it. Then we’re slowly introduced to the different characters and the setting the story takes place in. It’s hard if not impossible not to be fascinated by the depth and intensity of the scenario and the various (former) superheros in it.

While there’s no single main character in the movie it’s not hard for me to pick my personal favorite: Rorschach.

Which directly leads to my main criticism: there are simply too many characters and too little screen time for all of them to be sufficiently well introduced. Of course this is the inherent challenge of turning a complex written original into a motion-picture and there’ll never be perfect solution.

It’s this point that I feel really breaks the movie because a bit more than a half into the 162 minute runtime I was starting to get a little confused due to a feeling of having lost sight of the original story. Don’t get me wrong, the second half is still an enjoyable experience, however with the novelty of the story and the visual (and acoustic - Leonard Cohen had probably never envisioned Hallelujah to be the background for such a scene) representation wearing off I became less enthusiastic overall.

Walking out of the cinema at the end of the night I couldn’t help but feel that things could have gone better. While admittedly realizing in the same moment that it’s probably impossible to get a better interpretation of such a complex universe on the big screen. On some level it feels like the film is really just an appetizer to convince me to finally dive into the original comic.

And you know what, it seems to work. While writing this entry I dusted off of my copy and now have the best intentions to read it within the next 2 weeks or so.

At the end of the day the question of whether I liked the movie or not is kind of hard to answer. For the major part it was definitely enjoyable and worth seeing, yet it left somewhat of a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. Overall however it was definitely an interesting experience.

P.S. Wired Magazine published an interesting behind the scenes article on the Watchmen movie and its history. Definitely well worth reading even though it might contain some spoilers for people who haven’t seen the film so be aware of that.

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