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(Review for Director's Cut): I can't help but think that this was the best possible adaptation of an "unfilmable" work. It looks and sounds great especially since actual panels from the book were used for the storyboards. But gone is the subtext and the deconstruction of the superhero genre replaced with an "R" superhero movie. Perhaps in ten years (maybe as little as five) this movie will finally get the appreciation it deserves once audiences finally reach their breaking point with the current wave of cape and mask films.
This was released in a year when Marvel didn't have anything in theaters(!) and was still a few years away from assembling their cinematic universe, so the mainstream audience ignorance was understandable. If this movie came out today (or maybe next summer right after/before Marvel's Civil War), I feel that this would be the superhero movie to end the current onslaught on the movie theaters.
Zack Snyder is very good at image-making, but he wastes his talents on copying others'. That was the case with 300, and it's the case with Watchmen, a film I find entirely redundant, especially since the original comic was so cinematic. Some say making Watchmen was somehow a bold enterprise because the story is so rich and visually complex, that it's "unfilmable", but that's ridiculous. Dave Gibbons provided a damn BLUEPRINT on how to make the story. Where Snyder was free to add and adapt was in what comics can't give us, and that's where I think he most dismally fails as a director. Motion: Filling panel gutters with cheesy slow motion and gory action doesn't do much for me, but he's bad at hiding the true villain's identity in the very first scene, which is inexcusable. Sound: Full control of what the comic would sound like and he gives us cinema's most trite and obvious soundtrack (I couldn't help but roll my eyes at how intrusive and on-the-nose his song choices were, just awful), Ozymandias' pronounced lisp (Doc Manhattan's timid voice took some time to process as well, but could at least be motivated by his being an atomic age Christ figure), and some frankly silly sound effects at times. Where Synder changed the original story, I don't think he did it any favors. The new ending is more compact and efficient, certainly, but it's a lot more boring too. Now, it's not a complete wash. The Rorschach stuff works quite well, his brand of brutality well suited to the medium. In the Ultimate Cut, I though the integration of the Black Freighter animation created an interesting counterpoint to the story, a sort of descent into madness. The richness of the original visuals is achieved satisfactorily, though it's not quite as successful as the original. But yeah, I'd have been more interested in a slow-burn trilogy that added material over a couple decades and made the betrayals more shocking, than the slavish and unnecessary emulation we got.
A superhero movie without a big and hollywood final battle.
A great point of view, I loved it.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #47 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
This movie ranks #911 in Box Office Mojo's All Time Worldwide Box Office