Do not watch the ‘Watchmen’

Andrew Fingerett

Visually stunning but psychologically superficial, ‘Watchmen’ grossly and often humorously exaggerates its action sequences while simultaneously snubbing the philosophical underpinnings that made the graphic novel great.

Director Zack Snyder has an unfortunate tendency to overuse slow-motion special effects and, as a result, the ‘Watchmen’s’ contemplative plotline is placed in stark contrast to its style. It felt more like Snyder’s previous endeavor in the critically deplored ‘300.’
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The film’s soundtrack is simply dripping with amazing music from artists such as Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, but this actually manages to work against it. With exception to the opening theme, the music is never appropriately paired with what’s happening on the screen. The incongruity consistently ruins what would otherwise be a poignant moment.
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Fortunately Alan Moore, the novel’s writer, and his legendary storytelling is enough to make the almost panel-by-panel adaptation somewhat enjoyable. The problem is that this strict interpretation is constricted by a two-hour and 40-minute runtime, and the drawn-out action sequences necessitate a quick-and-dirty version of the plotline. It’s a great injustice to the roots of the story’s popularity, which was based on its ability to provoke a great deal of thought on a wide variety of topics.

To the film’s credit, most of the performances do a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life. Jackie Haley’s stoic and sufficiently creepy portrayal of Rorschach, a rogue masked hero and often morally questionable character, is frighteningly accurate. Billy Crudup’s rendition of the god-like Dr. Manhattan is perhaps the most compelling performance, although the inordinate amount of screen time claimed by his genitals often drew a series of immature giggling from the audience.
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The graphic novel invariably leads to great questions concerning the nature of time, humanity, morality and even reality. In the end, the film adaptation leads only to questions concerning whether or not it was worth the price of admission.

Two out of five stars.