Saturday, March 7, 2009


Watchmen is easily the best film I've seen all year.

Yeah, so it's the first 2009 movie I've seen. So what?

Actually, so this: Watchmen might be the No. 1 out of 1, but it ain't all that good*.

*First a disclaimer: I have not read the graphic novel. Therefore, although my complaints might also pertain to the source material, that's not the point. The point is, this is a movie. If I wanted something faithful to the book, I would read the book.

We'll call it The Dark Knight, Part 2: It involves superheroes. It looks great, it sounds great, some characters are great and some lines they utter are, well, great.

But then there's the fact that it's looooooong. No, not long. Long is fine (see: Rings, Lord of the). So let's say "bulky." Needed a cut.

Of course, that probably would have angered book fanboys and fangirls, so I understand why it didn't get one. But that doesn't make it OK. Do we really need every character's back story? Two (or was it three? four?) romance plots, none of which is very interesting? The identity of a certain character's certain parent? Yawn.

And then there's the endless moralizing, which seems to be in vogue in superhero movies these days. Like The Dark Knight before it, characters spew platitudes that will probably end up on Facebook profiles or something. And yes, I know most of these characters were human, so that gives them a little more of an excuse to ... well, to be human. But there's just something odd about hearing dull philosophy from folks who otherwise specialize in kicking ass and taking names (and, in this case, placing those names on court dockets). Give me Tony Stark's unapologetic megalomania over the internal conflicts of Strong and Pretty People any day, thanks.

All of this brings me to another parallel to TDK, and this one on the positive tip -- it really does have one strong redeeming character. In the Batman movie it was Joker, who was unpredictable and manic and hilariously so. In Watchmen it's our quasi-narrator, Rorschach, a cynical little tough guy who wears a mask and speaks in gravelly, Christian Bale Batman/Walt Kowalski tones and who often omits the articles from his sentences so they spew faster. It sounds like noir narration -- the best narration of all, IMO. And really, the climax is something out of noir, too.

So why all the heft around it? Rorschach (played by Jackie Earle Haley, who couldn't be farther from Kelly Leak unless he were playing a sex offender) and his unraveling the mystery of who killed The Comedian -- that works. The rest -- all the other characters and their internal (and, sort of, external) conflicts -- leave it. In the end, it's all empty words, except for the ones Rorschach speaks. Gimme a 90-minute movie about him, and you've got yourself a hit in my eyes*.

*And yes, a legion of angry book zealots. But hey -- if they don't like it, they can go read.

-Awesome opening credits. Who else thinks there should be an Oscars category for Best Title Sequence?

-As an actress, Malin Akerman is ... well, she's hot. Although she showed chops when explaining her love of Freakshow.

-Another complaint: The soundtrack. Just add Kanye and The Fray and you could upload it straight to a college kid's iPod. The Sounds of Silence? Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower? Good songs. Didn't fit. FAIL.

-End on a positive note: Always great to see Mickey from Seinfeld get work, and good work at that.

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