To even take time to talk about this film pains me. This movie is really bad. It was so bad that when my brother and I first watched it on TV, we couldn’t even make it past the half hour mark. However, everyone mentions Watchmen at one point or another and I was tired of being left out of the loop. I could have went without seeing this.
Zack Snyder hits few cinematic targets and the things he does succeed at barely meet the standard the average viewer would expect. The score to the film is well done and accentuates the overall tone of the film and the dark humor is sly but effective. Notice neither of these things have anything to do with story structure, plot stability, or characters.
The only character that hits the figurative nail on the head is Jackie Earle Haley’s Rorschach. Haley’s acting draws many parallels to Clint Eastwood and despite that this depiction is the only one with any solidarity in this hunk of junk that has somehow received the title “film”. Incredibly dark and sadistic plus his ever-changing face, Rorschach is easily Watchmen‘s most notable commodity.
Without these three minimal positives, Watchmen would easily be the worst film I’ve ever seen and yes, even worse than Alien 3. The pacing of a soldier that just got his legs blown off by shrapnel, Watchmen drags on…..and on…..and on…..AND ON… It never ends. Ever. Until your mind is empty, full of cobwebs, confusion and the loss of any sense of mental existence. Who knows? Depending on who you are, your physical existence might be in jeopardy because this is a movie that could send someone over the edge, not because of its message but because it’s just so ponderous and insubstantial. Not even oxygen could exist in this film. Even the air would scream, “NO!!! I can’t take this anymore!!! I quit!!!”
And that’s just what the tempo does to you. The overall specimen we are reviewing today is far more toxic than that. Heck, no oxygen is child’s play compared to what this film is capable of.
We learn the background story of every notable character. Every single one. It makes Watchmen more of a biographical adaptation than a story. A film should have development, not minutes upon minutes of background that detract from any conflict this film may or may not have. Subplots dominate the running time on a continual cycle as do revolving narrators and camera specimens. Rarely is our band of heroes together.
Naturally, this film is going very dark and vulgar with its tone. Composing a tone as brutal and uncompromising as this film wants is no easy task. It takes a lot of time, effort and diverse screenwriting. While there is little doubt that the writers were given unlimited paper and ink, they don’t accomplish the message they set out to send. What this film was trying to say and what it actually said are two different things. What I think it was trying to say was that the world is corrupt and there’s no sort of redemptive justice that is willing to do anything about it. Humans are vicious creatures capable of tortures that we would rather not imagine because the thought is sickening. The world is full of sludge.
If that was all there, I would understand. However, I think it’s also important to show there is some light, some good in the world, even if just a little bit. If there’s no good in the world, then what’s the point of justice? What’s the definition of life? If there is no innocence, no youthful naivety, no will for good and no concept of conscience, then how can this film complain about the circumstances it finds itself in? None of our heroes have an interest in saving anyone, contradicting the basic understanding of the word “hero”, but on the other hand, this film doesn’t direct the camera to anyone needing saving except for one minor and incredibly short scene that felt like a deleted scene more than actual movie material. In Watchmen‘s eyes, the world is full of ravenous dogs and the gnashing of teeth, fighting for the rotten scraps that remain on the curb. There are no puppies or a need for good. If there’s no need for good, why have heroes? This film is like hell on earth and if Snyder could have answered my most recent question, it would have gotten a lot more points from me, but it didn’t, nor showed the aspiration to do so. There’s no doubt that the want to discuss ethical questions is there, but Watchmen fails to show two sides of the coin, leaving us with only one side, one option and you can’t argue which option is correct when there’s only one option, making the ethical questions you’re trying to discuss null and void. The underwritten characters that relied far too much on comic profiles and previous material only makes this film’s primary purpose all the more impractical.
With the majority of this film’s deeper meaning evaporated, the only thing Watchmen has to lean on is a plot that balances like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, leading to a domino effect of collapsing film devices.
Dr. Manhattan leads our league of inferior characters, continually demonstrating his ineptitude for emotional output or humanistic tendencies. A blue robot more than a former human, Dr. Manhattan reserves no empathy or care for anything, making him as unreachable as a lone man in Antarctica.
The first hour of this is dedicated to past memories of the Comedian, who in every sequence proves to be filth just like the rest of the world. That is where I think this film really lost me, was that these characters are not superheroes at all. They are neither super nor heroes. No one saves anyone from anything aside from that short scene I mentioned earlier which was no longer than four minutes. It’s almost as if this film is trying to debate the notion of superheroes, if the term is a fictitious thought or a genuine reality. If anything in this film was more developed, maybe it had a chance, but there’s too much multitasking here to accomplish anything at a bearable standard.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the Sun, Edge of Tomorrow, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Young Guns, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Vantage Point, The Starving Games, You’re Next, Thor)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Billy Madison, A Haunted House, 300: Rise of an Empire, Cowboys and Aliens)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the Apes, Stonados, Redemption, Pride and Prejudice, The Contract)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Clash of the Titans, A Haunted House 2, Open Grave, Alien 3, Dark Fury)
My score for Watchmen: 11.
Watchmen is centered on its theme. If it was more of a philosophical discussion and less of directionless character dialogue focused on the over-complicated plot, this might have been half decent. As it stands, Watchmen is a malignant tumor that slowly takes over the agonizing viewer for all of its absurdly lengthy 161-minute running time. There are a few scenes where people are spray painting on walls and windows, “Who watches Watchmen?” The correct answer is no one because like these characters’ attitude towards other people, no one cares.