Watchmen Review: Oh My Days

February 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Film Reviews


WATCHMEN: On general release from Friday 6th March

23 years in the making, tossed about Hollywood like a rag doll, Watchmen looked like it’d be doomed never to be seen. The wait has been tortuous, but I am glad that this film could only be made now.

The graphic novel of Watchmen is a perfect story board for a special effects film, but it was not until now that it could be done justice. Dr Manhattan, for example, would have looked terrible even a couple of years ago but, big glowing…man bit and all, he looks fantastic.

There are undeniably corny moments in Watchmen – it is, after all, a superhero film – and a lot of spandex and capes, but that shouldn’t distract from the fact that this is one hell of a hard hitting movie, fully earning its 18 certificate. The violence gets bad enough at times to make our editor hide behind her hand, which is kind of understandable as blood splatters across the 3 storey high IMAX screen. It’s gratuitous, but Snyder is merely being loyal to the novels – just as he is right up to, but not including, the ending – and the fight scenes are done incredibly well, never overcooked but always forceful and not too camp. At times, Watchmen is literally frame for frame with the graphic novel, including the death of the Comedian at the very start.
The film is cleverly cast, too, with Jackie Earle Haley doing a particularly impressive job as the sociopathic Rorscharch. The best known name is probably Billy Crudup as the nuclear man, Dr Manhattan, but Malin Akerman and Patrick Wilson share the most screen time as Silk Spectre II and Nite Owl. These two, though convincing enough, do occasionally slip into slightly cheesy glances and come-hither smiles during a prison break.

Wilson and Akerman are probably also the biggest victims of Watchmen’s main failing – the soundtrack. There’s a sex scene set to a cover version of Hallelujah, hovering over the city in an enormous mechanical owl and a dinner during which Nena’s 99 Luftballons plays in the background. Over and again, just as I began to really suspend my disbelief and get sucked into the world of Watchmen I’d be jolted out again by a badly chosen track playing too loudly. However, the music can be nothing but a minor consideration in such a good film.

This is the best comic book adaption this year, and for me outstrips both the Dark Knight and Iron Man. A word of warning, however – set aside an evening for Watchmen. The film’s an epic, standing at almost three hours long.

By Chris Harding

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