So I went to see Watchmen
last night. I'd been quite looking forward to it because the graphic novel is one of my favorites and it's one of the great classics of the comic book world. I knew going in that I was going to disagree with some of the directorial choices made by Zack Snyder, and I was okay with that, because there's just no way that something as layered and densely packed as Watchmen
could ever be adapted COMPLETELY faithfully to the big screen.
But damn, they TRIED to make it faithful.
You can tell it's a good adaptation when you find yourself reciting (soundlessly, of course -- don't piss off your fellow theatergoers) the dialogue along with the actors, the dialogue that you've read so many times over the years that it's drummed itself into your head. Interactions between characters, internal monologues, and nearly all of it word for word from the source. Of course, why mess with perfection? Watchmen
is frequently quoted because it's so well written. Time after time I almost squeed with sheer delight when I heard some of my favorite lines.
You can tell it's a good adaptation when scene after scene is laid out and shot exactly like the corresponding scene in the graphic novel. Action stuff, angles, freeze frames. I'd be willing to bet Snyder did the same thing with Watchmen
that he did with 300
: cut out the pages of the graphic novel and use those as the storyboards. Again, why mess with perfection? Dave Gibbons provided fantastic source material, so why not use it for shot-by-shot reference?
You can tell it's a good adaptation when you think to yourself, "That's just how I figured Dr. Manhattan would sound", or "That's just how Rorshach should look", or "Man, he has the Comedian NAILED". The casting was out-freakin-standing. I don't have a disagreement with a single one of the major characters or the way they were portrayed, and that's something unheard of. True, I hadn't quite imagined Adrian Veidt as a willowy effeminate Eurotrash parody, but after a bit of reflection it was a change I could live with. And Rorshach, the Comedian, Dr. Manhattan, Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl, Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre -- all of the other major players were dead solid perfect, from voice to emotional portrayal right down to look and feel.
You can tell it's a good adaptation when damn near every one of your favorite scenes is left in the film and many of them are just as they were in the original. Some of them even had additional touches added to them that made them even stronger.
You can tell it's a good adaptation when you're marveling at the attention to detail, set dressing, and little touches here, there and everywhere. Ads for Nostalgia cologne; Rorshach walking the streets as a doomsayer in the backgrounds; the newspaperman and the kid who keeps coming by to read the Black Freighter comic book but never buy it; Hollis Mason's book sitting on the shelves; newspaper headlines; bit part actors looking and sounding just like Lee Iacocca, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon; period clothing and vehicles in every era -- it's just fantastic. Even a little LED display when Laurie puts on Dan's goggles and it identifies her onscreen as "Laurie Juspeczyk" instead of "Laurie Jupiter", showing that the name thing was just done for the film.
You can tell it's a good MOVIE when the effects are worth the long wait in bringing the film to the big screen. Dr. Manhattan's powers couldn't have been accurately depicted without modern CGI, so I guess it's a good thing this film spent so long in development hell. Also, the opening credits were just kickass.
You can tell it's a good MOVIE when you walk out feeling like that was a damned good way to spend a couple of hours and a couple of bucks. ( More details about what I especially liked, stuff I missed, stuff I didn't miss, changes I didn't agree with, stuff I would have done differently, and so on. SPOILERS AHOY, I MEAN IT NOW, DON'T READ UNLESS YOU'VE SEEN IT. )
In summary -- Watchmen
is a damn good film and a freakin' outstanding superhero movie. Go see it if you get the chance, even if you've not read the original. You'll have a great time. When even the purists like me enjoy it, the filmmakers have done their job right.
-- END OF LINE --[[The Oracle would like to know if you believe in ghosts.]]