Well Watchmen is finally over. The directors cut is readily available, and as a result 20 odd years of speculation can finally come to an end. Reactions from the fans have ranged from grudging respect to grudging disappointment with no one going apoplectic on either side. Personally I feel that Zack Synder did about as well as one could do with the source material. The only scene I felt was really butchered (heh heh) was Rorschach’s interrogation scene, which gave the pat easy answers the novel refused to.
But it’s only now that I can look at the film with any kind of critical distance. The first few viewings where spent slack jawed and pointing. The first time I realized that the film wasn’t really working as well as I thought, was when I dragged some friends who weren’t familiar with the source material to it, and watched them shift uncomfortably in their seats for two and half hours. This hasn’t been an atypical reaction from what I can tell either. In one of those weird exceptions that prove the rule the fans have been more forgiving with the adaptation then the general movie going public. Or as my friend called it “The Anti V is For Vendetta”.
In a weird way the fans bring the greatness to the movie. Yes there are flaws in the movie. Plenty of them. Since his casting was announced I went around telling anyone who cared (and a fair amount who didn’t) that Matthew Goode was a perfect Ozymandius. This has turned out to be only slightly less accurate then Matt Damon’s prediction that "Crush Groove would be bigger then ET" in Dogma. And yes Carla Gugino’s performance would not be out of place at a Drag Queen gala. Yes Silk Spectre and Nite Owl straight up executing those top knots was a little weird.
But the moments it gets right are so right. Moments that have colored my imagination since Jr. High brought to stunning life. Jon’s sojourn on Mars (and really how underrated was Crudup in this movie) Rorschach’s desperate doomed struggle with the police (and the way that Jackie Earle Haley found the sadness at that character’s core) “I’m very disappointed in you Adrian”, the best opening credits sequence since Se7en and all the rest. I can’t help but love this movie. Love it for all it’s little missteps and bat shit insane music cues, Love it for it’s ambition and it’s daring.
Really what this movie made me excited for is Zack Synder. He took some deserving lumps for those “Visionary” commercials that came out. But I can’t help but like him. He seems to have no greater ambition then to be the greatest genre filmmaker of all time. Someone with John Carpenter’s instincts who can shoot like Ridley Scott. Someone with the skills, the enthusiasm and most importantly the clout to pull this off. I can’t wait to see Sucker Punch, his first original film. In a lot of ways it’ll be his true proving ground, and I can’t help but hope he pulls it off.