So the SO and I decided to head over to Plano last weekend to catch Watchmen. His summation? “The movie jumped the shark when they did the slow backward pan from Dr. Manhattan’s asscrack.” I thought it happened a lot sooner than that.
Watchmen did not manage to carry off the dark, gleeful chaos that the Coen Brothers elicited from V for Vendetta or even the surreal alternate universe feel Wimmer created with Ultraviolet. What Zack Snyder presented was, instead, a disjointed, overburdened attempt at wrapping up three plotlines in three hours; a feat not easily accomplished and one that has been the undoing of other directors (I think Spiderman III more or less makes that argument for me). Had he stuck with the core plot, any of those three components may well have succeeded.
I had fairly high hopes during the first half; the buildup of backstory was well presented and the suspense was introduced early. At about the 90 minute mark it started to flounder. One was left with a feeling that the movie was like a Seinfeld episode; not really about anything. The twist on saving humanity from itself was heavy handed and so campy it floundered under its own weight. The only thing that broke the tedium was the sex scenes, and even they couldn’t stop themselves from descending into camp. The whole slamming down of the hand on the “fire” button…wow. I would like to be able to say I enjoyed some other part of the second half of the film, but to be honest, I fell asleep right about the time Silk Specter the younger went off to Mars with Dr. Manhattan. I haven’t fallen asleep at a movie since Gattaca, and it’s the first time I’ve considered walking out of one since The Saint.
On a meta level, it was amusing to see this, the conservative whine about whiney liberals and how kindness kills a society all reduced to easy black and white lines, replete right down to the refrain “Won’t someone think of the chilllllldrennnn?!” and the insistence that we are creating our own destruction by “coddling criminals” and the “immoral behavior of whores.” It’s a conservative wet dream. “Look what you liberals did to us!” It was almost enough to keep me awake (because I really wanted to laugh at it) but the soporific effect of Billy Crudup & Matthew Goode’s voices and the absence of direction were impossible to fight.
I am still mystified by the fanboi reaction. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting cinematic masterpeice. All I expected was to be entertained for a few hours, but apparently you can’t make that happen even with a decent story and $100M. If nothing else, it has convinced me that Zack Snyder is simply incapable of directing a movie I’m interested in watching.