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Watchmen

I was excited to see this movie and purposely did not reread the graphic novel before going due to past experiences when my moviegoing experience was interrupted by niggling thoughts of What about … ?” The long title sequence involved beautifully lit tableaux giving the backstory of the Watchmen, and I hunkered down in my seat for what I was sure was going to be two and a half hours of satisfaction. Not to be. I was bored to death. I wasn’t the only one, either, judging from the phosphorescent white screens I saw flashing in the audience as people checked the time on their cell phones and Blackberries.

There were some gory bits of violence that were cringe-worthy, but most of the movie was accurate re-creations of frames from Alan Moore’s Watchmen with no life in between the frames. I always thought comic books were a perfect launching pad for movies because a director already has the story all laid out. All he or she would have to do is find the meat for the vision. I think of Alfred Hitchcock who storyboarded every minute of his films and, according to most biographies I’ve read, napped through most of the filming of his movies because he knew exactly how they were going to look.

I suppose there are a few other elements to getting a comic book movie right–the costumes and the music. The costumes were gorgeous and really gave flesh to the ink raiments shown in The Watchmen graphic novel, but watching pretty clothes gets tiresome with no substance. The song choices were bizarre. The music often took me right out of the movie, reminding me of a Vietnam film. Parts of the Watchmen do involve the war, but why be so obvious?

My favorite character from the graphic novel has always been Rorschach, and I thought the actor who portrayed him (Jackie Earle Haley) did a great job with the material he was given, but when Rorschach wasn’t on the screen, I found my mind wandering and couldn’t even interest myself in the set design or other background details. It was all so obvious. I guess that sums up my dissatisfaction with the film. It lacked subtlety. I wanted to make some connections myself but that was taken away from me.

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