I am a comic fan. I read this comic when I was younger. The film adaptation was something I was very excited about. My goodness what a let down. Because of the many different elements to this movie, I’ll break down each area. Let us begin with storyline.
What a convoluted catastrophe. Perhaps the script was actually several sci-fi TV shows written by different people and mashed together. Or maybe there were too many re-writes of the script and pages got mixed up. Either way the storyline, or should I say story lines, never quite come together. There are so many flashbacks and nearly no explanation. For example, Nixon was in office for three terms? Explain this? Those of us who’ve read the comic know why, but for someone who had no clue about what was going on, it made no sense. And there are too many stories playing out at once that you can’t stay with one to care long enough about the characters. You have the story of Dan and Laurie, the story of Laurie and Dr. Manhattan, the story of Edward Blake’s life and death, the story of nuclear war and the story of the anti-superhero law. All jam-packed into 2 hours worth of movie. There was a reason the comic book was spread out over several books. There is too much going on. Hayter, who wrote the screenplay for X-Men and Scorpion King, and Tse, who wrote Sucker Free City, try so hard to recreate “Sin City” style storytelling. All they accomplished was removing any of the passion and power of the story. It needed to be broken up into several movies, or at best a mini-series.
This brings us to issue two, the cast. You had some really great acting from the likes of Morgan, Haley, Goode, Wilson and Gugino. No one could have pulled off Rorschach the way Haley did. Brooding, angry, uncompromising and unassuming, he captured the true bones of Rorschach. Wilson was great as the noble yet naïve Nite Owl. He reminded me of Guy Pearce’s character in “L.A. Confidential”. Goode was truly believable as Ozymandias, the smartest man on earth. He is both arrogant and sincere at the same time, and his motives for his actions are truly conflicting. Morgan is the stand out for me here though. He creates a truly despicable character in the Comedienne and yet you understand and sympathize with him. His storyline, which coincides with Gugino’s, is perhaps the most compelling. Gugino is brilliant as the over the hill, past her prime original Silk Spectre. Her hard drinking, sad portrayal of Sally Jupiter is reminiscent of Taylor in “Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolf?” But sadly, the rest of the cast just bores. Billy Crudup brought nothing to Dr. Manhattan. He was void of any personality. It seeps through a bit at the end but not enough to make him worth anything. Crudup is truly an overrated actor. Granted all you had of him was vocal, but still, you can bring a lot more than he did. Look at Gerard Butler’s vocals in “Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter”, much more expressive and effective. Malin Ackerman was devoid of anything as well. She treated this role with all the melodrama of an evening soap. Perhaps it’s because most of her early work was on nightly soaps like “Witchblade”, “Earth Final Conflict” and “Relic Hunter”. She was just plain awful and I couldn’t care less about what happened to her.
Issue three, Zack Snyder. I was so freaking’ stoked to find out Snyder, who helmed the awesome “300” and great remake of “Dawn of the Dead”, was directing. He did his best with what he was given. A bad script, mixed bag of actors, and as much CGI as he wanted. But not even he could save this. He tried. He got great performance out of the few actors who were capable of acting and he tried to organize the story as best he could, but in the end the movie was a little more than a hot mess.
All in all, this movie was a disappointment for not only the fans of this epic comic, but to the creators as well. To see their work diluted and distorted like this shows a lack of respect on the film community.