The current vogue these days is to fashion an epic film out of every single graphic novel or comic book series that had attracted a whiff of critical acclaim back in its heyday – even if said heyday was in 1985. Witness the excruciating mess that was "The Spirit" and the lifeless "Fantastic Four" films.
The latest piece of 4-color fancy to fall victim to this trend is Watchmen, a gritty tale from Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, From Hell) that focuses on a group of not-so-superheroes with about as many interesting problems as your parents bickering in the front seat of the station wagon.
The biggest problem with Watchmen is that it’s just too damn ambitious. It has long been said that the storytelling of the original comic is far too convoluted to be successfully translated onto the big screen. In fact, Alan Moore refused to have anything to do with the adaptation whatsoever. That didn’t stop Zack Snyder, director of such art-house fare as "300" and "Dawn Of The Dead" from trying. He apparently turned down the Wolverine film in order to complete Watchmen, so at least that’s one movie he won’t be capable of ruining through his mere presence.
What follows is a narrative mess about as coherent as a Baywatch Nights episode. With so much exposition to get through, there are sequences of the film that feel like someone reading page after page of the Old Testament of the Bible out loud: ‘And Jehobeth begat Jeremiah; and Jeremiah begat Methuselah; and Methuselah begat…and so on and so on.
The audience is treated to a series of poorly cut together montages every time an aspect of a character’s back story needs to be explained to the audience in order for the plot to make any sense. My favorite? A short vignette where the entire country of Vietnam personally surrenders to Dr. Manhattan’s 3-story tall glowing blue penis. Truly a cinematic first.
Other areas where Watchmen breaks new ground? A scene where a sort of hot chick has sex with a sort of Owl-man in a floating tin can; a scene with two fat men and a midget in prison where no one is penetrated or ‘sexually awakened’ in any way; and a scene where I slowly drew a razor blade down the length of my arm, breaking the skin just so I could feel alive as this train wreck of a film plodded into its third hour.
If I were capable of re-assembling matter with my mind – like the only character in this film who actually possessed a true superpower – then I would have surely created a time machine that fit into the seat beside me so that I could travel back to the previous day and kill my double before he could ever set foot inside the theatre that became my prison of boredom.
Instead of wasting a Titanic-sized chunk of your life on this stinker, consider doing something productive with your afternoon, like joining a 12-step program, or organizing your sock drawer by thickness. You’ll thank me later.
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