Feb 23, 2009|
Category III. Whatever happened to the humble sex scene? Once an essential part of every sweaty, seedy thriller, recently it’s been phased out, perhaps obsolete in an age of streaming online porn. It somehow seems fitting then, that “Watchmen,” a sleazy, Category III superhero epic set in an alternate 1985, should have at least two of them. One is a bizarre threesome between a superheroine and two God-like creatures, and the other is an almost-embarrassingly long scene involving the same woman and another superhero in the cockpit of the “Owl Ship.”
I mention their inclusion for one reason: to highlight the lengths “300” director Zack Snyder has gone through to have “Watchmen” appeal to mass audiences. The film is based on the classic 12-part comic book series of the same name written by Alan Moore. You won’t recognize his name from other film versions of his work such as “From Hell, ” “Constantine” or “V for Vendetta”; the funny-book genius refuses to attach it to these supposed adaptations because he can’t stomach Hollywood raping his visionary masterpieces.
This exception is a serviceable attempt at the only comic book included in Time Magazine’s All-Time 100 Novels list, a condensed version of what in all honesty should have been a “Lord of the Rings”-esque 12-hour film. Unfortunately, the movie-going masses nowadays demand instant and widespread gratification, and that’s what you get here. In between scenes of explanatory melodrama are the previously mentioned sex scenes (for men), gratuitously extended acts of bloody violence (for teens), enough slow-motion to make you feel like you’re on acid (for old people), and a big blue penis that endlessly dangles back and forth on that massive IMAX screen (for women).
“Watchmen” is not a film that you love—it callously eschews too much of the philosophy of the original comic, and wears its cynicism as too proudly to ever be lovable—but it’s not a film you hate. It’s a surface-skimmer, extracting a coherent story out of a sprawling epic, and performing an adequate and entertaining job at that. If anything, it will inspire audiences go back to the original comic and recognize its greatness, but also it will hopefully help Hollywood realize the mess they’ve made of Moore’s work and finally give up on ripping him off. Hopefully, but unlikely.