Watchmen Straddles Fine Line Between Loyalty, Heresy, Hope

The greatest comic book ever written has finally made the leap to Hollyweird. But will Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ masterpiece receive the cinematic justice it deserves? Or will it just get served? I pondered the film for a coverage blitz on Wired. Here is the first salvo:

Review: Watchmen Film Straddles Line Between Loyalty, Heresy
[Scott Thill, Wired]
One could call bringing Watchmen to the big screen a thankless job. In finally adapting the greatest comic ever written, director Zack Snyder has triumphed under pressure where true visionaries like Darren Aronofsky and Terry Gilliam have failed. He has successfully turned Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ brilliant comics mini-series into a must-see movie for every Watchmen fanboy in the land.

If only it were that simple.

As a devoted fan of the comic and its writer, it is hard for me to call Watchmen a great film. Caught between its loyalty to the source material and a desire to carve out its own legend, the R-rated epic is a bloody mess with its still-beating heart in the right place. But its head isn’t in the game, unless that game is all about marketing blitzes, product tie-ins and raking in Dumpsters full of cash. If those are the stakes, then it’s game over: Snyder has locked down the championship win.

Turning Watchmen into a fan-pleasing film was undeniably a daunting task. It could be argued that no one could make a movie that would live up to the comics’ dense, metafictional, intertextual triumph, which effectively deconstructed the superhero genre through its tapestry of flawed characters and bold political themes.

Films are simply too small to do justice to Moore’s detailed world of costumed crime-fighters, social unrest and Cold War paranoia. Characters like Dr. Manhattan (played by Billy Crudup, pictured), a blue superhuman who manipulates time and space at will, defy cinematic treatment.

When it comes to fan reaction, Watchmen disciples can be nurtured by loyalties to their sacred text, just as they can be angered by the slightest changes. Snyder’s movie contains more than a few deviations from the beloved original, and the alterations and additions straitjacket the film’s ostensible purpose — to honor the comic — and dumb it down for a modern movie-going audience that seems to have fallen in love with torture porn. MORE @ WIRED

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