So, twenty years, three failed directors and a writer who wants nothing to do with its adaptation later, Watchmen finally hits the silver screen – and it’s far better than anyone had a right to expect.
Let’s face it, Snyder had built a reputation purely on a remake and a panel by panel, shot for shot comic book adaptation – a trick he repeats here – nothing like the reputations others attached to it over the years have built up, and whilst I possibly have more time for “300” than many people (it isn’t that bad, and works as a piece of propaganda) I didn’t expect it to be this good.
So the fact that by the time the opening credits had finished I’d already decided “My God, he hasn’t fucked it up” shows that he must have been doing something right. Sure it ditches vast swathes of the book (all the foreshadowing stuff, the incidental characters) it’s still about deeply damaged people who choose to dress up in funny costumes to fight crime. More encouraging was the fact that it took the deconstruction element of the comic and applied it to superhero films – that’s certainly something we should give him credit as a director for.
It looked perfect, the incidental details making it a joy to watch and a real fun for anyone who’s read it far too many times. However it remained accessible for those who hadn’t, although a certainly familiarity with comic-tropes is required (something some of the audience didn’t seem to have if comments afterwards are anything to go by). Some have complained about the levels of violence but I’ll accept that as part of the deconstruction element – Batman’s armoured fist will mess you up far more than the sanitized version shows – and on at least one occasion it made more sense, cutting through the convicts arms makes more sense than just killing him to gain access.
And the ending, yes it was changed for the screen – but it was changed in such a way that makes a lot more visual sense. The psychic squid ending would have been difficult to pull off in a way that didn’t seem hokey (inside the comic, with its bright colours it makes sense, here the muted grey brown palette required something else), changing it to a series of city destroying blasts still kept the flavour of the original.
And it could have been a lot worse, at least it still happened thirty-five minutes ago.
What more can I say, I’m impressed.