Never is a strong word. It's easy to say that I'll never go to the movies again after my experience this afternoon, but I'll feel differently the next time an event film comes out. I'll probably get sucked in again. This is about the movie, not the graphic novel from whence it came.
Earlier today I went to see Watchmen. It started at 3pm, so I paid matinee price, not full. It was seven bucks. Once inside, I got a small popcorn and a small Coke. The total was $10.25. That's right, it cost me $17.25 to see a movie, by myself, on a Thursday afternoon. That's not the worst part of the afternoon, though. No, I summed up the worst part on Twitter shortly after I got home:
back from seeing Watchmen… if i had to describe it in one word… boring… if i had to describe it in two words….&$^%ING BORING.
— Daniel M. Clark (@QAQN) March 13, 2009
Spoilers from this point on. You've been warned.
Two of the fight scenes were pretty good: Silk Spectre & Nite Owl in the prison and Rorschach & Nite Owl vs. Ozymandias. That's… about it.
For starters, it's too long by about an hour. Clocking in just shy of three hours at 2:45, it's a very long film. Many movies benefit from a length like that—Watchmen doesn't. It just drags.
The acting was spotty at best. The casting was questionable, especially those actors chosen to portray real people like Nixon. The costumes were, for the most part, terrible. This, I attribute to the fact that you can't put normal people in superhero costumes and expect them to look like they do in the comics. Comics are exaggerated, rather like Barbie dolls. That's why the X-Men flicks had the characters all wearing black leather instead of their traditional garb. It's why Batman in the movies wears body armor instead of what the character wears in the comics. It's why Brandon Routh looks like a little twerp as Superman instead of the Man of Steel. The producers of Watchmen decided to put regular costumes on the real people, to the effect that most of them looked like your drunk uncle going to that Halloween party when you were seven.
There are a few things that folks around the internet made a big deal out of with this flick. The first was the source material and how close the movie was to it. I'm not going to rehash all the arguments about it… it's not completely faithful to the source, but that's okay. You can't take a 12-issue comic book series and turn it into a 2- or 3-hour movie. You just can't.
A few people made something of a big deal about superhero sex in Watchmen. While it's true that Nite Owl and Silk Spectre get naked, that's what makes the sex completely un-superheroic. The problem, of course, is that when the costumes come off (and they do come completely off), the people underneath are just… people. You could just as well be looking at any random couple, which, given that these people are actors, was exactly the case.
Then there's the violence. Oh, lord, the violence. While not the most violent film ever made (um, probably), this flick had more blood and guts flying around than any movie I've ever seen. I thought Reservoir Dogs was bloody until I saw Watchmen. I've never seen so many bodies explode before—literally explode, with blood and guts and bones on the walls and ceilings. I don't mind violence in my cinema—even over the top violence—but here, it was unnecessarily over the top.
For heroes, these people sure kill a lot. I know, it's supposed to be some grand statement that in the Watchmen universe, the heroes aren't squeaky clean. The problem that I have is that the two characters that I thought were the closest to moral, Silk Spectre and Nite Owl, kill with smiles on their faces when faced with unpowered gang members—only one of which had a gun. Silk Spectre stabbed a guy in the neck. What the hell? The movie did not make the point that the graphic novel did. It was violent for the sake of violence.
The movie couldn't decide if these people were super powered or not. Only Dr. Manhattan has real super powers, the rest are regular people that put on costumes to fight crime—like Batman (only without the gadgets). None of them should be able to punch through walls (which happens), or take an explosion in the face with no burns (not even a singed hair on her head when Silk Spectre took the brunt of a fiery blast that knocked her into the ship).
The Bottom Line
I paid nearly twenty bucks to see this flick; twenty bucks that would have been better spent on… well, just about anything. Maybe a DVD. To put it in more simplistic terms: 1 out of 5 stars. Zack Snyder doesn't understand the point of Watchmen at all.