‘Watchmen’ watchers watching their watches

The greatest graphic novel of all time gets turned into an average 163-minute movie.

Unassuming nerdlinger Jon Osterman becoming the superhuman Dr. Manhattan. PHOTO COURTESY WARNER BROS.

Ashley Goetz

Unassuming nerdlinger Jon Osterman becoming the superhuman Dr. Manhattan. PHOTO COURTESY WARNER BROS.

âÄúWatchmenâÄù Directed by: Zack Snyder Starring: Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson Rated: R Showing at: Area theaters Twenty-two years after its momentous release, the critically-acclaimed graphic novel âÄúWatchmenâÄù has finally made its way to the silver screen. ItâÄôs a movie that some thought would never be made, and rightfully so. âÄúWatchmenâÄù is comprised of so many complexities and inextricably literary elements that many felt a truly compelling adaptation would be impossible. It turns out the skeptics were right. The film starts off well enough; the overblown slaughter of The Comedian , a maniacal ex-superhero, takes slightly longer than necessary, but the montage that follows, succinctly [albeit hurriedly] portraying the back-story for the uninitiated, is actually relatively enjoyable. After that, it all goes downhill. Through the remainder of the filmâÄôs 163 minutes, one of the ComedianâÄôs masked brethren, the brutal but resolute Rorschach trudges along, searching for his comradeâÄôs killer in the murky world of an alternate 1985 America. Misgivings aside, the film does have its moments. The problem is that the highlights have nothing to do with the actual film and are instead a result of MooreâÄôs incredible story. ItâÄôs hard not to enjoy the tragedy of Dr. ManhattanâÄôs accident or RorschachâÄôs ephemeral face finally coming to life. Still, story can only do so much when every other aspect of the film attempts to butcher it. This attempted murder is perpetrated by none other than Zack Snyder, the commercially proclaimed âÄúvisionaryâÄù director of the contemptible âÄú300 .âÄù One has to wonder why film studios continue to attach such horrible directors to adaptations of such phenomenal comics. One would think theyâÄôd take a hint from the success of âÄúThe Dark Knight âÄù and get someone who actually has a modicum of skill. That said, Snyder seems to have grown a little since âÄú300.âÄù This time, he makes an attempt at some form of pathos, but his efforts inevitably fall short. Additionally, Snyder invariably amplifies even the smallest moments of aggression into his patented, hyper-stylized, pornographically sadistic action sequences, which continue to plague everything he touches. âÄúWatchmenâÄù is a story that is heavily invested in the inner-workings of its characters; Warner Bros . should have found a director with a better grasp on genuine human emotion. The performances of a wide assortment of average [and practically unknown] actors further the void of authentic sentiment. Part of the problem is that some dialogue is lifted directly from the comic and simply doesnâÄôt function in real life speech, resulting in a handful of the cheesiest lines in memory. It doesnâÄôt help that Patrick Wilson and Matthew Goode, who play Nite Owl II and Ozymandia s, respectively, deliver their lines with a sense of tedium that causes even the most intelligent viewer to long for the brute stupidity of SnyderâÄôs fight scenes, which at least offer some manner of sensation. Rorschach, played by Jackie Earle Haley, presents another problem as he is masked throughout the majority of the film. Lacking a face to emote with, Haley attempts to delve into the darkness of his character, which basically entails speaking like a lifelong smoker. The actor just canâÄôt pull off the calloused growl and the audience is forced to bear the brunt of his scratchy narrations. The only actor that actually earns his paycheck is Billy Crudup, who plays the naked, blue superman Dr. Manhattan. Crudup delivers his lines with the utmost sincerity, which generally would not be cause for concern. Unfortunately, CrudupâÄôs costars are so emotionally deficient that Dr. Manhattan, a character that is supposed to become increasingly removed from humanity, ends up becoming the most human character of all. Ultimately âÄúWatchmenâÄù loses depth through the monotony of bad acting and poor directorial decisions. The story is still enjoyable [except for the altered ending, which will undoubtedly anger fanboys everywhere], but MooreâÄôs original work is infinitely better.