Comic fans are an interesting breed. In general, most comic fans hate any changes made to the storylines of their favorite comics when those comics are adapted to cinema. Still, the most successful comic adaptions, like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, the original Superman movies with Christopher Reeve, and the X-Men series come with significant changes to the mythologies of the comics on which they’re based. I wonder if it’s because those characters have been interpreted so many different ways that a different interpretation to them isn’t seen as a bad thing, because we’re used to it. In contrast, a story like Watchmen has been told only once, by one writer and one artist, and was a finite series, and a hugely popular one at that.
Much hullabaloo has been made about the changes to what many consider the most “unfilmable” comic book ever created, Watchmen, specifically the changes to the ending. I can honestly say that, while I adore the original Watchmen series, I don’t hold its writer, Alan Moore, in the same high regard as everyone else. I feel like he can be an excellent writer, one of comic’s best, but, having said that, I feel like his obsessive attention to detail hinders the heart and emotion of many of his works, including Watchmen.
Reading the graphic novel, I couldn’t help but feel like some of the story bits felt like extra, and though I know every piece of it had something to do with the overall story arc, I felt like it bogged down the movement of the tale in general. Which is why I think I enjoyed the Watchmen movie so much – it managed to “trim the fat” of the graphic novel, all the while telling the exact same storyline and bringing to the forefront the emotional aspects.
Check out the rest of my review after the jump.
I loved everything about the Watchmen movie – the writing, the acting, the directing, the cinematography, even the changes to the storyline from the graphic novel. And, to be honest, for as many things as the movie takes from the graphic novel EXACTLY, there are the same amount of things that have either been dropped or changed.
Still, I think I’m one of those rare fans that can enjoy an adaptation of a work as truly separate from the original work, as long as it can stand on it’s own. The problem with a lot of adaptations I find is that, upon removing some of the story beats, the story doesn’t make sense. People end up telling me “oh, well, it makes more sense if you read the book.” Well, I’m not reading the book, I’m watching the movie, and I feel the movie’s should stand on their own. I think Watchmen is one of those movies that can stand on it’s own, separate from the graphic novel on which it’s based.
That being said, it’s not a film for everyone. Die hard Alan Moore/Watchmen fans can and have hated the changes made to the movie version. Non-comic book fans probably will find a 3 hour long comic book movie filled with extreme violence, sex, and darkness a bit of a bear to sit through. Sure, the emotion of the story carries, but it’s hard for people who don’t like comics or genre entertainment to look past the costumes and see the characters. This isn’t an action film. It’s essentially an adult movie about superheroes, moreso than The Dark Knight, and people thought that was dark.
Early estimates are showing that the flick is doing well its opening weekend, but not as well as hoped. I’m not surprised. It’s not the most accessible film, despite how great it is. There isn’t a recognizable character, like in The Dark Knight, that brings in that universal appeal. And it isn’t fun like Iron Man so that people can get past not knowing the character and enjoy the film. It’s dark, it’s violent, and it’s VERY VERY adult.
Though I wouldn’t have chosen any of the actors for the roles they were given (most from lack of familiarity), there isn’t a weak link in the entire movie. They all put in great jobs. And Zach Snyder…well, he’s three for three on great films so far. Still, you either like his style or you don’t, and some people can’t get past the style for the substance.
Watchmen is one of those films that’s going to divide it’s audience. It’s length and subject matter won’t appeal to the general public, and the changes to the story will turn off die hard fans. Still, I have to say that I thought it was just about the best comic book movie I’ve ever seen. And that includes The Dark Knight!
I know there are folks who’ll disagree with me, so talkback below! I’d like to hear what people thought!
Paul’s Awesomeness Score – 10 out of 10!