Watchmen: What could have been the greatest comic movie ever
We’re living in the age where comic movies have become the norm. They aren’t in the fringe anymore. Comic movies like Sam Rami’s Spiderman, Tim Burton’s Batman, and Bryan Singer’s X-Men will go down in history as the movies that started it all. Comic-buffs still continue to speak about these movies that started it all. But, the one comic-movie that should have been ahead of its time, that should have made history is Watchmen – and it’s been forgotten about.
When a story-genre begins to get oversaturated, the stories began to cannibalize themselves and produce self-criticism – which is exactly what the Watchmen comic is all about. A criticism on comic superhero stories which we’ve been fed for over 40 years.
And, that’s what I mean when I say this should have been the greatest comic movie ever. It was ahead of its time. Zack Snyder does what he’s best – he tells the Watchmen story panel-for-panel, and forms a movie. He excels in bringing forth the visuals of the comics on the live-action screen. So, why does Watchmen, a comic-movie ahead of its time – is not remembered by either comic or movie fans?
Unlike, other comic fans, I refuse to believe Alan Moore’s statement that the comic simply cannot be adopted into a movie.
Here’s what went wrong.
Random Bursts of Music
Music is the easiest way to evoke emotion on screen. And, it can also tell you the quality of the movie. Suicide Squad, for example, has random burst of music which is there to pump you up – but adds no value to the story. Watchmen has songs like Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Janis Joplin and a host of other songs suddenly streaking in and out of the movie. They are there to quickly ramp up the emotions of the viewers and then disappeared away. In filmmaking, this is a shortcut.
Now, before you shoot me down, I’m not denying that there are many moments in the film when the music was perfect. The Open Credits in Watchmen will go down in history – that’s how you use the visual medium to tell a story. Rorschach’s and Doctor Manhattan’s speeches are superimposed perfectly with the right music. Pruit Igoe and Prophecies is constantly played with Doctor Manhattan’s presence and that captures the might of a God.
The music of Watchmen should have been able to stand on its own feet to evoke emotions from the audience, rather than borrow from classic songs.
Poor Action Scenes
The action scenes in Watchmen received the Zack Snyder treatment. There are bloody, stylish and don’t hold up to the today’s standards. The action sequences lack technique and skill. The action is reminiscent of the 80s movies, except with more gore. We love Civil War and John Wick for the stylish action techniques they bring to the screen. Watchmen’s action scenes remind me of thugs fighting.
Take the fight in Prison scene for example.
So much focus is giving on style, that neither Silk Specter nor Nite Owl seem to fight with any technique apart from beating thugs with your bare fits.
Again, Rorschach and Nite Owl verse Veidt was disappointing.
Veidt shows no form. In fact, he just seems to be faster and stronger than Rorschach and Nite Owl.
Zack Snyder had an opportunity to transcend the limits of a comic book when it came to action scenes, and he didn’t.
I think we can all agree that Rorschach and Doctor Manhattan were perfectly cast character. Dan and Silk Spectre were alright, they got the job done. Veidt played by Mattew Godman also got the job done – but that wasn’t enough for me. His performance as Veidt, the main villain of the movie was underwhelming.
Veidt is what would happen if Batman goes bad. He’s charming, likeable, calculating, and the wrong man you want to have as your enemy. Veidt in the Watchmen movie just came across as cold and his body language was stiff. And this is unforgivable because – he plays the freaking villain! One of the best villains in comic history! Actors like Heath Ledger (the Joker), Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal Lecter), Javier Bardem (Anton Chigurh) were able to elevates these villains into something more just based on excellent acting.
Additionally, much of his backstory is left hidden, prevent the character from completely appearing on screen.
The Final Explosion
Here’s how the comics portrayed the final explosion.
The fear upon people’s faces, the gross monster, the horror of bodies – that’s how the comic showed the explosion.
On the other hand, the movie had a generic explosion. Something we’ve seen in every movie possible.
Everything in the story was leading up to this point. This is the final twist in the story. The Watchmen comic is able to capture the horrible death of human beings. The comic spends two volumes showcasing the destruction unleashed. While, the movie does not give us anything impressive to hold on to. It’s dry, it’s dull, it’s boring, and it’s you’re run-of-the-mill world-ending explosion.
I can write a 100 reasons to why I love the Watchmen movie, the biggest one being that not only does Snyder stay faithful to the comic, he presents the story panel by panel. But at the end of the day, Watchmen is a complimentary movie to the Watchmen comics but does not hold up on its own. And so, by and large, this comic-movie will fade away, gather dust on movie shelves and perhaps one day, someone else will make a movie more worthy memorable than this one.