movie film review | chris tookey


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  Watchmen Review
Tookey's Rating
1 /10
Average Rating
5.37 /10
Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre II - Malin Akerman , Dr. Manhattan/Jon Osterman - Billy Crudup
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Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: David Hayter, Alex Tse , based on the graphic novel co-created and illustrated by Dave Gibbons [and written by the uncredited Alan Moore]

Released: 2009
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 161

Hollywood at its woeful worst.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Filming the grim graphic novel Watchmen is a project which has attracted – and defeated – such classy directors as Terry Gilliam, Darren Aranofsky and Paul Greengrass. Any of them would have done a better job than Zack Snyder, the man who perpetrated the uproariously camp bloodbath that was 300.

Even Alan Moore, co-writer of the original book (though wisely he’s taken his name off the movie and denounced it in advance), has called it unfilmable. It was certainly unfilmable by Zack Snyder.

The startlingly ambitious opening montage – a potted pre-history of the Watchmen as masked vigilantes - shows a pace and promise unmatched in the rest of the picture.

Then we find ourselves in an alternative 1985, where President Nixon has been re-elected for a fifth term – hiss, boo. Russia is still a super-power, and on the brink of nuclear war with America.

It all feels woefully dated, as well it might. The film is doggedly faithful to a graphic novel published over two decades ago, long since overtaken by political events. And it’s one too many movies – after X Men, The Dark Knight and Push - set in a world where crime-fighting super-heroes have been outlawed.

That unoriginality, combined with flat dialogue and soulless direction, would be enough to make this a bad movie; but it’s also an example of comic-strip cinema at its most pretentious and overblown. At two hours 44 minutes, it is insanely long. A four-hour director’s cut is threatened.

It is a perfect storm of all the worst aspects of the genre – including a dispiriting appetite for extreme brutality shot with pornographic relish, vacuous characters and abominable acting - especially by Malin Ackerman (pictured) as Silk Spectre, Matthew Goode as a hopelessly lightweight version of Ozymandia, supposedly the world’s brainiest man (sadly, he looks as if one sarcastic comment from Gail Trimble would knock him sideways), and Robert Wisden as Nixon, sporting the world’s most ridiculous false nose.

Three-quarters of the movie is taken up with back-story flashbacks about vigilantes for whom most of us will feel nothing except alarm at their fascistic overtones. Even though the future of mankind is supposed to be at stake, it’s shockingly hard to stay awake.

And it’s supremely tasteless. A pregnant woman is shot in the stomach by one of our super-hero protagonists. Two more of them laugh about a man being thrown down a lift shaft. A man is burned alive with cooking fat by a fourth. A six year-old girl is torn apart by dogs. Rape and mutilation are trivialised.

Imagine The Incredibles remade by people with no vestige of humour, taste or humanity, and you’ll know enough to stay away. Unless you’re a diehard fanboy, Watchmen is unwatchable - a grotesque squandering of time, talent and technology.

Already much praised on the internet by “critics” profoundly unworthy of that description, this despicable trash will find an audience among sad sociopaths, deranged pseudo-intellectuals and brutalised, immature men of all ages. I just hope that there aren’t enough of them to make it a hit. If there are, God help cinema.

NOTE: This review provoked much outrage on the net, mainly from people who pointed out that the faults of the film (as I saw them) also existed in the graphic novel. I never said they didn’t.

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