There is a remote possibility that you might not know what „Watchmen“ is. Which is hard to believe, since you obviously have an Internet connection. If you do have one, I refuse to believe you weren’t there last June, when the first trailer for „Watchmen"came out. Blogs went nuts, Rotten Tomatoes did a frame-by-frame analysis of it. A frame by frame analysis! It was hard to miss. But on the oft chance, that you did miss it, let me tell you what you might have thought. If there’s even an ounce of geek in you, you’d have been like: „Whoah! Epic!“ It was set the Smashing Pumpkins´ „The Beginning is the End is the Beginning“, there were costumed heroes in it, a lot of slow-mo. All and all, the impression I got, was the following.
Five guys are gathered around a table, „300“ director Zack Snyder included.
„After „300“,“ says one of the guys, „we could very well work on a HUNDRED MILLION DOLLAR budget for our next!“
„Yeah, I suggest we do „Watchmen“,“ says another, „It’s one of the greatest graphic novels of all time, because there’s, like, themes in it! It’s deep that way. Psychological. They say it’s un-filmable. I say: those guys, they’ve never heard of slo-mo!“
And then Zack Snyder says: „It’s funny you should say that. You see, sometimes I like to take an mp3 player and just walk around the city. And while I’m doing this, I imagine all kinds of cool stuff happening (in slow-mo) and it’s set this music. You could say it’s my modus operandi. Just yesterday I had this song by the Smashing Pumpkins on. There´s this one bit where Billy Corgan goes: „does it make you happy / you’re so strange“ and you know what? I saw „Watchmen“! I saw the Owlship rise from the water. It was awesome. We should absolutely do „Watchmen“ next.“
„I think we should also have „The Sound of Silence“ by Simon and Garfunkel. We should have it in the movie, when they bury The Comedian!“
„I love that song!“
„Yeah, but imagine how much cooler it would be, with like, costumed heroes and rain, and oh! Leonard Cohen’s „Hallelujah“. That’s another one!“
„Totally,“ says Zack Snyder „we should have a sex scene with Cohen’s „Hallelujah“...“
„God damn right! And then there’s that Philip Glass piece from „Koyanisquaatsi“, that should definitely be in the movie!“
„Yeah, that’d totally balance all the pop out, Philip Glass would give us credibility!“
„Plus“ says Zack Snyder „I just listened to Glass another day and I got this, like, vision. There was fucking Mars! And Doctor Manhatten was there, and then he starts his monologue and it goes on for ten minutes! Man, this Philip Glass piece would be awesome with it!“
Nine months later „Watchmen“ comes to a cinema near you. I will not debate the awesomeness of it’s source material. It’s a good book, with it’s fair share of problems. You should read it. Before or after the movie, I cannot say. But see the movie. It's important. Sometimes geeks grow up and discover a sizable amount of financial lift at their disposal. The moment is sheer wonder. It becomes apparent why us humans like to throw a little unpredictability into the mix. This is what culture is supposed to do: burn all those funds - all that same old, same old - into something completely unpractical. Into one, grandiose, geek-tastic dream sequence.
Of course, the rhythm of the novel’s complicated narrative suffers as they shuffle it around for scenes in a movie. Sometimes you get transitions from something as unfittingly mundane as „guy gets thrown into prison“ to naked figures, kissing on the planet Mars as a massive, nuclear explosion rips them to pieces. But that’s cool, three seconds into the explosion, you’ve already forgiven everything. In fact, these hiccups are part of the reason, why „Watchmen“ is so interesting. It’s massive, yes, but it’s also - different.
For example: the performances are uneven, all by relatively unknown actors. But where else in Hollywood have you seen seven new actors take center stage in a grand project like this? Without one star in there! Some fare better (Jackey Earle Haley is spectacular as Rorchack, as is Billy Crudup as Doc Manhatten) while others are less impressive. But they are all, simply put – interesting. I do not agree with the criticism Malin Ackerman has gotten for her smoking hot babe, by the way. I mean, she’s smoking hot, that’s as far as it goes. But that’s the way the roll was written and again, it’s great to see some new smoking hotness out there, inhabiting that yellow spandex suit. In fact, any flaw in „Watchman“ (except for the glued-on ultra-violence - my one big quarrel with it) can be negated by the strength from which it springs.
It’s fragile, of course. The narrative strains. But then again, it’s ambition would not have it any other way. Logic suggests: it simply could not have been better adapted to screen. Of course it comes off as more of a collection of brilliant moments, than one, coherent narrative. But those moments are brilliant indeed. In fact, this film has already won as it’s opening titles roll. You know those tricky, postmodern things directors like David Fincher like to use as technical demonstrations. Well, „Watchmen“ comes attached to the best one ever.
In the end those five guys, at that table, they were right. What they do is important. It is more important than the entirety of Latvian literature, for example. And it’s also more important than movies like „Doubt“ and „Frost/Nixon“, however well they’re done. Because it is new. It’s the cutting edge of human culture. 8/10