Watchmen (2009, Zack Snyder)

“Watchmen” is not your typical superhero flick. Deeply dark, disturbing and mature throughout, the pages of Alan Moores un-filmible graphic masterpiece is shot and sequenced in a manner befittingly perfect for  the original source material. Under the scrutiny of Zack Snyder, the action set pieces are stylish and outstanding, but the overly dense material of nuclear warfare, conflicted super humans and historical setting become an annoying nuisance, in a landscape dominated by easy to understand comic book adaptations.

With multiple viewpoints, the film handles the ensemble roster of characters in a manner which outlines both the persona and narrative of each individual – however the films focus on primarily three individuals shortens the worthwhile notion held by the renaming cast, with characteristics of these roles not given true credence to the context of the film. This leaves a sour taste of non balance upon the eyes of the viewer, thus resulting a disappointing aspect of the film production.

At its core “Watchmen” is a murder mystery with a twist. Showcasing the darker moments of superhero plights – with an idea surrounding the loss of purpose after being made illegal, the plot carries various strands as they all look to find the true killer behind the death of retired “watchman”, the Comedian. Split into three separate arcs, “Watchmen” follows Nite Owl and Silk Spectre as they once again don their masks, Rorschach delving deeper into the crime syndicate to find the truth, and Nuclear Powered Dr. Manhattan as he begins to loose his humanity. Intersecting at certain points, the narrative can easily and appropriately be seen as a true ensemble piece.

The film is cast in a peculiar way for the level of publicity it held on release. For the purpose of the film, Director Zack Snyder has opted for relative unknowns in pursuit of fitting character actors to the difficult roles in which they perform. However, for the most part these casting decision works – with only a couple failing to carry the film at its loftier moments. Jackie Earle Haley is by far the standout inclusion within this production, with his Rorschach involved in the narratives most interesting moments. A rougher Batman-esc superhero, his fugitive persona is brilliant when he appears on screen with his personal story arc carrying the most weight in proceedings.

Although the supporting cast fill the characters well – with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Patrick Wilson standing out also – the dialogue in places comes across overly heavily. This clogs up the already complicated narrative, with over exaggeration in looking deep for exposition. Through holding both a difficult subject matter, and dense dialogue throughout, “Watchmen” struggles to lift up from its own weight which results in the film not being as easily accessible as other superhero movies.

With his previous graphic novel film release relying heavily on its slow motion, Snyder implements a similar aesthetic with regards aspects of this picture. Where “300” befitted these moments, the over use of slow motion and action effects throughout “Watchmen” brings a level of showmanship for egotistical means, with no real story development of film quality enhancement within these decisions.

This is the pinnacle of superhero films for the thinker. Much like the source material revolutionised graphic novels in the mainstream, Snyder has out performed himself with the confident direction of a difficult narrative – while also proving the worth of R rated superhero movies at the same time. So who is watching the “Watchmen”? on the standard of the film, hopefully everyone.

Plot – 3
Acting – 4
Direction – 4
Special Effects – 4
Retrospect – 4
Overall – 4