Watchmen – Good Enough

10 03 2009

So Watchmen the movie is not as good as the book. That’s true for 90% of movie adaptations.
Yes, there are misfires. The opening sequence is too enamored with the smiley button. Daniel and Laurie did not need to slaughter the muggers. A prostitute with any inkling of self-preservation would not hassle Rorschach.
But on the whole, Snyder pulled it off. He’s true to the characters, true to the themes. The movie is not as subtle or complex as the book, but what do you expect?
I was surprised at how vividly the movie brought me back to the cold war of the 80s. I’ve read the book so many times that now I see only layers of technique, and don’t feel the impact like I did as a teenager. I never really believed there would be a nuclear holocaust, but the notion that we could all be wiped out at any time suffused everything. It made me angry. Who did those maniacs think they were? What gave them the right to dangle my life by a thread? In the theater I found myself reliving that rage and fear that were just the background noise of the Reagan years.
The genius of Watchmen was always that while it subverts every superhero convention, wrestles with profound questions, and paints a bleak picture of human nature, it’s still a fantastically entertaining masked-avenger romp. Snyder manages to keep all these elements in play, mostly by sticking to the source material like a shadow. Some are calling it slavish, but I wouldn’t go that far. The handful of big departures from the book work well.
Watchmen achieves the one thing I really hoped it would; like the book, it demands to be taken seriously. Notice is given. Superhero does not equal camp. Moviemakers, putting your stars in masks does not give you license to insult our intelligence. Have some respect for these characters. Understand their mythologies. They are meaningful to us.




One response

10 03 2009

Well said. These are our modern myths, and they should be respected for something other than marketing tools.

I miss the real ending from the comic book. It is much squishier:

Good times.

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