In the 21st century, superhero has become an ironic movie term. The outlawed crime fighters in this intelligent yet brutally violent film fit the description since they’re as flawed and sociopathic as some of the villains they’re supposed to be saving the general population from. For degree of difficulty alone, screenwriters David Hayter and Alex Tse are to be commended for adapting Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore’s (see sidebar below) graphic novel, with its multi-layered flashbacks, into an absorbing, easy-to-follow story set in an alternate Cold War past (circa 1985). Fanboys of the 12-part comic will likely grumble about a few parts being left out of the movie (e.g. the Giant Squid), but for the most part Zack Snyder’s (300) direction reflects a willingness to stay true to both the material and tone of the original work. That’s not to say that some subplots don’t weigh down portions of the film or that some of the performances aren’t rather wooden. These shortcomings plus a not-so-climatic climax are overridden by the excellent camerawork of Larry Fong and the music scoring of Tyler Bates. Like THE DARK KNIGHT (2008), WATCHMEN’s underlying themes deal with contemporary issues in the political, psychological and even spiritual realm. If that weren’t enough, there’s plenty of explicit sex and bloody, graphic violence to merit the movie’s R-rating while raising its pulp entertainment quotient. Visually, this movie evokes the look of its graphic novel source with a film noir mood and style in which everyone’s corruption is measured in degrees. However, I think even people who have no familiarity with the comic and its unique twists on the genre will enjoy this flick since it’s well-written, well-directed and grimly entertaining.
OTHER GRAPHIC NOVELS BY ALAN MOORE THAT WERE MADE INTO MOVIES: CONSTANTINE (2005), FROM HELL (2001), THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN (2003), V for VENDETTA (2006).
MOVIES ADAPTED FROM GRAPHIC NOVELS BY ALAN MOORE THAT HE DISAVOWED: All of them.