Allegory. I fucking hate allegory.
And therein lies the central conceit of both the film version and more inherently the graphic novel of this bloated corpse.
But again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The story revolves around several superheroes investigating a non-starter of a plot to kill costumed vigilantes. I say non-starter because the plot is invented in the schizophrenic and deeply paranoid Rorschach who gathers with him Nite Owl, Silk Spectre and Ozymandias after the brutal murder of The Comedian, one of the least entertaining characters to be realized on the big screen since Pauly Shore went direct to DVD. Only the one remaining character of any significance has superpowers, Dr. Manhattan who is so melancholic that he is in reality blue. The thing I envy most about him is that he is able to see both his past and future as if they were the present, a skill that would have come in handy before I sat down to watch the 2 hours and 40 minutes required to bring this piece to its conclusion (“It will never end”, they say. “It never ends.” You don’t know how right you are).
Alan Moore has maintained for some time, at least since his other works “From Hell” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” were savaged by glaring omissions and re-imaginations palatable to the big screen that he considered Watchmen to be unfilmable. Perhaps he feared most of all that someone would eventually have the balls to do a completely faithful adaptation and highlight what is wrong with his own invention. Most unfortunate for us, Zack Snyder, the director took this as a personal challenge.
As with Snyder’s “300”, the look and feel of the film is brittle and aloof. The acting is empty, hollow in its own self-importance and lack of investment into what motivations these characters could have. The music is crass and indulgent in its apparent superiority and only serves to detach us more from the action of the piece. The cinematography is beautiful but combined with the other faults of the overall feel seems to do nothing more than act as an advertising campaign against any city that resembles that which is shown.
A saving grace, perhaps the only one evident is the violence underpinning everything that happens here. At the very least, it makes you feel that much better that these characters with which one finds it impossible to relate to, get the snot the kicked out of them. However the frequency and brutality of the killings on an intellectual level serves more than anything as a twisted justification for the pretentious nihilism and individualism throughout. Violence represents politics, ethics and much much more.
It would seem strange to say that this is not the most glaring fault with Watchmen, that lies in the overall story. The writing is overly simplistic and course for a poorly thought allegory trying to comment on everything from the nature of man to the limitations of comic books as a medium. Every point of which falls flat due to the forced feeding we’re subjected with every new frame. With perhaps an average of 24 frames per second, it’s impossible not to feel increasingly more violated and insulted as it progresses. Awkward, clumsy and completely forced, the film offers a social commentary more than 2 decades too late, if it was even completely adequate upon it’s inception.
I cannot verbalize how strongly I find against everything I saw tonight – it was adolescent, sentimental and as persuasive as the Monty Python cast dressed as women (sans Idle of course). I could have regressed, could have bought into every inane word spoke and action taken… but sometimes it’s better not to.