Film & TV

Watching Watchmen

For the fans:

A comic book adaptation where the heroes don’t have powers is a hard sell. Or rather, it’s a hard sell to those who haven’t read it. Impact attended a special press conference for Watchmen, and we were privileged enough to be presented with three 10-minute sections of the finished product and a Q&A with director Zack ‘Superfluous-Slow-Mo’ Snyder. And no, we’re not going to pretend we’re not bragging about it. As is obvious from the trailers, it looks beautiful. Like in 300, the excessive slow motion allows the audience to linger on the strong images (faithfully drawn from Dave Gibbons’ original illustration), even if it does leave the audience eating popcorn at the same speed as the falling Comedian. Although the Hollywood gloss may work against the novel’s original ethos, reflecting the mundane existences of the retired heroes where important conversations happen in dingy kitchens, Snyder has clearly fought to keep the “really cool sex and violence”. In bringing to the screen Snyder’s perception of “what Watchmen is to me” we have, however, lost the squid, which just heightens my curiosity.

For those who will inevitably get on the bandwagon:

Alan Moore’s Watchmen is widely acknowledged to be the most accomplished and popular graphic novel, or “big fat comic book” of all time (according to director Zack Snyder, director of 300). It is, hopefully, popular enough for the mass population to recognise the fatalistic cover image of a bloodstained yellow smiley face. The novel is set in an alternate reality, identical to our own history, but changed slightly by the existence of ‘costumed heroes’. But what’s really shocking is that, even though these characters lack the superpowers traditionally associated with comic-book heroes like Superman and Spiderman, none of them are exactly boring(man). The brilliance of Watchmen is its employment of these subversive elements, such as a slightly altered historical narrative and normal people as heroes, to make points about the political state of the world and the relevance of regular members of society in relation to this. The only character with powers, Dr. Manhattan, is used as a political weapon in America’s war with Vietnam. Cue special effects of awesomeness in the cinematic adaptation. In Snyder’s own words: “pop culture’s ready to have their shit shaken up a bit”.

Watchmen is out on the 6th March 2009

Oli Holden-Rea

Film & TV

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