whither Watchmen?

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Although it won't hit theaters for almost two more weeks, Zack Snyder's Watchmen film is already polarizing fans of the graphic novel. Kevin Church says he won't see the movie, writing that "Watchmen is at its core a comic book, much like Citizen Kane is a movie:"

It uses its medium's strengths and weaknesses to the story's advantage throughout, doing things that can't work on screen, even if you take each and every panel from the book, carefully edit the voiceovers into it, and ensure that each line of dialogue is exactly as it appears on-page. I can go on and on about the technical aspects, but there's a more important element that's sitting at the core of my misgivings about this slick-looking piece of superhero cinema.


The more I see of the film version of Watchmen, the less I like it, and perhaps more importantly, the more I dislike what it represents: the dumbing-down of something greater for the sake of a false "authenticity" that's apparent only to those shallowest of readers of the source material. Zak Snyder may have a made a movie that's called Watchmen, features a cast of characters directly from the book, and liberally makes use of the book's contents, but I'll be very surprised if it has any of the original's heart.

I'm glad to see avid fans out there, proudly expressing their love for one of the best modern English-language novels, but the differences in Watchmen's story when it is adapted to a new medium don't desecrate the achievements of Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins. If anything, it proves that their creation has a strength akin to that of mythic archetypes, and can withstand the translation to film. A lesser tale--one that relied on gimmicks rather than solid storytelling--would not have survived. There will always be things that comics do better than films, and some of those are no doubt lost in Snyder's adaptation, but what remains still appears to be a compelling story--at least according to fellow fan Wil Wheaton.

Wheaton--whose geek cred is beyond question--was in the audience for MTV's "Spoilers" earlier tonight, and got to see the entire film. He called it "fucking awesome," and wrote:

Ultra-purists who are just determined to pick it apart will be able to find some things to be upset about, but I don't know why they're even bothering to see it, to be honest. Speaking only for myself, as someone who has read the book over and over again, there were maybe ... three ... things that made me go "eh," but I had to work really hard to get even that perturbed, because ultimately none of them mattered. In fact, when the movie was over, and I thought about the stuff they cut or moved around, I just couldn't get upset about it, because nothing happened that fucked with the story or the characters, at all. Zack Snyder's Watchmen is as close to a perfect film adaptation of Alan Moore's Watchmen as we were ever going to see, and when his super-ultimate-here's-everything cut comes out in the fall, I think it will be perfect. But what I saw yesterday is truly remarkable: a big studio movie adaptation of one of the most -- if not the most -- important graphic novels of my lifetime that not only didn't fuck it up, but brought it to life brilliantly.

I can't think of a better, more faithful, graphic novel adaptation, ever. Nothing else even comes close.

Wheaton had some further comments in this MTV interview

Major Spoilers has a few clips that I hadn't seen before.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on February 21, 2009 10:33 PM.

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