Saturday, March 28, 2009

Watchmen (2009)

Yeah, I called that one wrong.

As a fetishistic recreation of the graphic novel for the purposes of masturbatory group nostalgia--it was a great experience the first time you read it wasn't it?--the film was fine. As a work of art, well, a three hour story board can be a bit tedious. There is a "Now...This" quality to the narrative that is as much a structural problem as anything else. Comic books are montages by nature, and we are conditioned to see montage as ellipsis. But when the whole thing is montage, the film ends up eliding any remnant of story, character or humanity, and we just have spectacle. Some of the individual bits of spectacle or pieces of montage are interesting, others campy, others clumsy, but it plods from one to the next. By "plod" I don't mean the pace is slow necessarily, just that slavish faithfulness to putting every little thing in from the graphic novel ends up making the audience (or at least this member of it) feel as though that was the (only) purpose in making the film. It wasn't so much that I felt like Snyder didn't know or understand what the material meant and couldn't translate it to the screen--I felt like he didn't care what it meant. That his purpose was not to convey the meaning of the source material but the surface of it, the mechanics of it, and as a result the film felt mechanical and purposeless, even with all its sermonizing about the human spirit. In that sense, the film it most reminded me of was Chris Columbus's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

I could enumerate in more detail, I suppose, but really, to what purpose? Those who will like the film have most likely already seen it. Those who haven't seen it yet probably have their own reasons for not doing so. I enjoyed the experience of going to the movies with my friends and watching this movie, which is not the same as enjoying this movie, but....

P.S. This is probably as good a place as any to mention that over at Cinevox I'm in the process of casting Muppet Watchmen, to go with Muppets in Space and Muppet Treasure Island...

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