Last night I went to see Watchmen. Zack Snyder's movie adaptation of the highly acclaimed graphic novel written by Alan Moore...and I wasn't disappointed!
I have to admit, when I first heard that a movie adaptation was actually in the process of being filmed (afterall, Hollywood have been trying to do this since pretty much straight after the comics were released), I was more than a bit worried. Watchmen, the novel, is a classic. A piece of Sci-Fi/Fantasy literature that, for me, ranks right up there with anything H.G. Wells, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, or any one of other masters that have graced the genre have produced. In fact, being completely honest, I think it ranks right up there with any literature of any genre. So, any movie adaptation had very, very big boots to fill even without the lead weight of also being a comic book adaptation, which, lets face it, doesn't tend to bode particularly well.
However, despite all the potential pitfalls, for me it lived up to the billing amply. The cinematography was everything one comes to expect from Snyder (e.g., 300), a compelling mix of breathtakingly panoramic drama and brutal close-ups, but done such that it doesn't dominate the storyline. The casting was perfect with very strong performances all round, although I have to tip Jackie Haley as Rorschach who gave a perfectly pitched mix of madness and heroism. The score was tremendous, right from the off as Bob Dylan's gravelly voice kicked the movie into gear it again hit the difficult balance between dominating the movie whilst also being noticeable and adding a sense of atmosphere.
Most importantly, though, it managed to do justice to a complex storyline of a dozen or more subplots all working on a multitude of different levels. Some details have been cut (and the ending has been tweaked slightly), but none of this is critical. The same driving force behind the story is there, the same subtle poking and prying into the various characters and their morals, the same dark commentary on human society. Somehow it all comes through, along with a bucket load of other brilliant little details and nods to other things (such as Niel Armstrong's fictitious 'Good luck Mr Gorsky' quote).
Some of the ultimate fan boys will complain about how this scene or that scene has been cut. Others will complain about how long it is. But, when all is said and done, the story and characters are still there in all their dark and miserable glory, and 2 hours 40 minutes is not really that long to have to sit still! So, my advice is that, if you're a fan of the comic it's a must, but even if you're not you should give it a go (I went with some people who haven't ready the book and they said it was fine to follow).
It's big, it's bold, it's brutal, and it's bl**dy brilliant!