Watchmen: Part II

It is with great pain and a heavy heart I present to you the following review of Watchmen. I will not spoil any of the massive plot changes (many, many changes) and I will not even account for them in the review. If I wanted to be a jerk, my review could be "Just read the book instead." But I'm not a jerk. Watchmen: Part II Watchmen is a roller coaster ride of a film. While such imagery would normally be used to get your hopes up, it is the context that is most important to the description. It is not an exciting roller coaster, an entertaining roller coaster, or even a chuckle-worthy roller coaster. No. The roller coaster element is one of great highs and devastating lows, as I cannot recall any film in recent memory that suffered from such inconsistent quality from scene to scene. Did you know Watchmen was about the value of love and Maury Povich levels of "Who the baby-daddy?" Because that's what the majority of the film is. We are constantly berated with the issues in a way that makes me wonder who thought making a few cosmetic changes to My Super-Ex Girlfriend was a good idea. The acting in the film is inconsistent. Unsurprisingly, Jackie Earle Haley is fantastic as Rorschach. His voice is like gravel, and his physical presence alone is enough to send chills down your spine as he breaks and enters anything and anyone to get what he wants. Jeffrey Dean Morgan does solid work as The Comedian in a rather limited role. His scenes are memorable and darkly funny, relying on a smirk and a trigger finger to give the ultimate punchline. Patrick Wilson does the best he can with Nite Owl II. Since so much of the film focuses on the relationship between Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II, he mostly has to do his best Cyclops as told by X-Men films impression in a more knock-off than expected Batsuit. Malin Akerman starts off strong as Silk Spectre II, but appears to have been told by director Zack Snyder to play the character as an emotionally unstable frigid and bitter woman. At times, it seems like she really has no idea what film she is in. Considering the focus of the film is on her issues of identity, abandonment, and struggle for love, Akerman lacks the charisma and emotionally vulnerability to really make us care. Billy Crudup was screwed over royally. Whoever decided Dr. Manhattan should be recorded entirely through really over-processed voice overs made a big mistake. An exceptionally talented actor comes off as a total amateur when even the sound mixing doesn't match where Dr. Manhattan is appearing on screen. And then there's Matthew Goode as Ozymandias. To say that he ruins the film is only a slight exaggeration. It's not his fault that Zack Snyder clearly showed certain actions that were part of a new twist ending in the first five minutes of film that paint the character in an entirely different light. Though I have trouble blaming Snyder for totally flat line reading, a face that never moves, and body language that doesn't change. And what about Zack Snyder's directorial vision? It's sad that at times I thought I was watching 300. It's even sadder that every fight scene with Silk Spectre II felt like South Park's parody of 300, in particular the scene where Mrs. Garrison has to make coffee. There's a time and a place for slow down techniques in cinema, and that time and place is not every single scene in every single comic book film. Just because the man is a director who focuses so heavily on visuals does not mean that he is a "visionary director." All of this aside, there are two massive, lumbering issues in Watchmen that never disappear throughout the bloated 2.5+ hour run time. One: The narrative does not make sense. I've read the book three times at this point, and I could not make heads or tales of entire series of scenes that had nothing to do with each other. The editing and screenplay pounded heavily on Silk Spectre II's identity issues to the point that multiple camera angles were used during any mention of this conflict and the screenplay repeated dialogue in completely different scenes. I am not referring to flashback scenes reused throughout the film. I am referring to entirely different scenes that have nothing to do with each other, with completely different characters on screen speaking the exact lines of dialogue someone else said three scenes before; that was after someone else said them five minutes before and another person said them six scenes before that. The balance between the concurrent plot lines never levels out and the new twist ending is comprised of nine different endings. The film would be twenty minutes shorter if Snyder cut the film after the first conclusive ending. The extra endings do not add anything to clarify what just happened, why it happened, or how it possibly makes sense. They are just there solely to please the fanboys who want every aspect of the comic to appear on screen. Two: The soundtrack and score are grossly inappropriate for the film. Every sequence ends with a loud, blaring, pre-1985 pop tune that is meant to mark the end of an issue. Too bad the songs are played too loud, for too long, and barely have anything at all to do with what happened before or what will happen next. Even worse is the derivative Batman scoring lifted with little alteration from Danny Elfman's 1989 work. Do we need uplifting action music every time Nite Owl II does anything hero-like on screen? I doubt it. My honest recommendation is to avoid this film. Overall, it just falls flat. The quality is inconsistent and the whole film feels off kilter. I'm not convinced yet that Watchmen is unfilmable; I just believe the wrong team was put together to bring it to life.

Labels: watchmen

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