By Stephanie Holland
By Stephanie Holland
Imagine a world where the president is drunk with the power of his military arsenal, the world is constantly on the brink of nuclear war and anyone who speaks out against the government is a victim of character assassination.
While this world may ring true to recent events, it is also the alternate universe that is the setting of Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel “Watchmen.”
One of the most revered titles in comics has been passed around Hollywood for 21 years, with several filmmakers trying their hands at adapting a story that most thought was unfilmable. Even Moore thought the novel couldn’t translate to the silver screen.
However, Zack “the visionary director of ‘300’” Snyder was finally able to bring the masterpiece to fruition.
Unfortunately, it appears that everyone was right and “Watchmen” should never have been put on film.
The story takes place in an Orwellian 1985 where superheroes live out in the open and the Doomsday clock is set at five minutes to midnight, meaning nuclear war with the Soviet Union can happen anytime.
The Watchmen are a group of retired superheroes who are thrust back together when a member of their crew, The Comedian, is murdered.
From that starting point, viewers are taken on a journey with the other Watchmen as they try to find out who killed him.
Snyder uses his talents to produce a visually stunning film, but he also produces a bloated, self-indulgent movie that falls short of its over-hyped expectations.
“Watchmen” opens with a masterfully executed title sequence that distorts popular historical images to introduce audiences to its alternate reality.
Sadly, the film goes downhill from there, dragging the audience on a meandering trip through the land of unnecessary exposition.
Viewers are also treated to a never ending stream of gratuitous, over-the-top violence. Snyder is known for making violent films, so this wasn’t a surprise. However, at a certain point the exploding limbs and brutal attacks become a distraction to the plot.
Besides the visuals, the only other thing “Watchmen” had going for it was the strong cast.
Jackie Earle Haley delivers a standout performance as the uncompromising Rorschach and Patrick Wilson plays against type as an aging and painfully average Dan Dreiberg, also known as Nite Owl II.
Billy Crudup is the omnipotent and always-naked Dr. Manhattan, while Malin Akerman vamps it up as the group’s lone female, Silk Spectre II.
The final member of the team is Adrian Veidt, who is often referred to as the smartest man in the world. This may be true, because he is the sole superhero who has revealed his identity as Ozymandias to the world, in the of process cashing in.
Matthew Goode portrays Ozymandias as a cross between Michael Jackson and Bill Gates. He is so over the top that his performance feels like a caricature.
Through flashbacks the audience is treated to the team’s history and why they quit being superheroes, some of which is unnecessary and redundant, as the same ground is covered later in the film.
After two and a half hours of dragging storytelling, the movie finally reaches its conclusion, which takes a turn from the one in the novel. The problem is it feels rushed, because there has finally come a point where more answers are needed and this is when Snyder chooses to leave unanswered questions.
There was no way “Watchmen” would ever live up to the hype surrounding its release, but the finished product was such a disappointment that it became clear why no one could ever put the story on film.
Die-hard fans of the novel probably saw this movie the moment it was released, but for the casual viewer, watching the “Watchmen” will be an endless exercise in confusing storytelling and self-indulgent filmmaking.