Who watches the Watchmen?
We’re a little over a week out from the opening of “Watchmen,” a movie I’m more excited to see than any other in a long, long time. I didn’t even have this level of anticipation for “The Dark Knight.” I finished my pre-screening homework tonight, completing my first read of my 20-year-old trade paperback collection of the 12-issue limited series that spawned the film.
I hadn’t read “Watchmen” in I’m honestly not sure how long; it’s been 15 years at the absolute least, and likely closer to 20 at this point. There were things I recalled – vague recollections and bits-and-pieces flashes triggered by the various trailers for the film playing everywhere you look – but I had forgotten even more, to the point that this latest read was all but new material.
Moreso than the details of the story, I had forgotten just how absolutely brilliant “Watchmen” is. After I finished it tonight, I wondered if I had even realized what a masterpiece it was when I first read it. I know I enjoyed it; I’m just not sure I was at a place in my life to actually get it. I think I get it now. And it’ll certainly be less than 15 years before I read it again to test whether I am correct.
Setting aside the source material — material which, as time goes on, seems increasingly regarded as one of the 20th centuriy’s finest literary works — the advance material for the film makes it seem as if its creators have crafted a movie that should be tremendously entertaining to watch. Reading the source material again, and you realize quickly the enormity of the task they’ve taken upon themselves in rendering this story to film.
I find that it’s necessary to always keep expectations in check for movies, because at some step in the evolutionary food chain of films, there always seems to be someone intent on screwing things up to please a focus group or appease an investor. Some broken cog in the machine not allowing movies to be what they could be, out of fear or ignorance or a simple grab for a bigger piece of the box office pie. Whatever the cause, disappointment and letdown seem far more frequent reactions than having that thought enter your mind that this time, by jove, they’ve done it.
If they should fail, or succeed even on some marginal level, “Watchmen” will still probably turn out to be a, pardon the pun, watchable and perhaps even enjoyable movie.
But what if Zach Snyder, the director of “Watchmen,” pulls this off? What if he has legitimately succeeded in translating this work to the big screen in such a way that the film reflects the greatness of the comic book series?What if it really is the film adaptation of this comic book that we’ve all played through in our minds while reading the story?
What if he’s done it?
My homework is done… Now I just need a ticket so I can see for myself.