Posted: 03/07/2009




by Rick Villalobos

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A fan is like a nagging mother in law who always wants her way. Let’s face it – the characters in comic books are stuck on the printed page. No matter how much we wish for a world like theirs to come true – it won’t. Our imaginations are the vehicles to get us there. And the fan on foot, apparently, would rather walk than ride with someone else.

The comic book series called Watchmen, written by Alan Moore, was published in 1986 by DC Comics. This twelve issue comic featured characters like Rorschach (a white masked righteous tough guy), the Comedian (a gung-ho soldier), Doctor Manhattan (a light blue superhuman), Nite Owl (a hero with a good cop persona), Ozymandias (the smartest man in the world) and the tough but beautiful, Silk Spectre II. Outlaws in a world beset by war, these six costumed heroes take action and at every cost.

Five minutes to doomsday. The United States and Russia are in conflict. Richard Nixon is the president for a third term. The murder of the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) prompts Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) to search for his killer. Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman) suit up for one last time. A nuclear apocalypse is near and the only one that can save the world is Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), but he is on mars. And the world’s smartest man, Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) is in hiding, somewhere, in an Egyptian-like fortress.

Something is lost in the interpretation isn’t it? Film adaptations are like that – not every detail makes the final cut and it is never like what we imagined it in our heads. It is tough to please the comic book geek. Anyone with a collection of perfectly packaged action figures displayed in their parent’s home must be irritable by now. The truth hurts - the perfect comic book to film adaptation does not exist, at least, not yet.

Director Zack Snyder (300, 2006) can be assured that nerds everywhere will show up to the theaters, wearing their briefs on the outside. Watchmen is a good film. It is a long film (163 minutes) so having that large coke may not be an option. Though it does not matter, a pit stop to the nearest restroom will be the last thing on anyone’s agenda. And that is what a good film does – it makes you forget or possibly have a kidney infection or worse, those white briefs can turn yellow. That is the magic of cinema.

The fan is the ultimate critic. They determine whether a film flops or not. But let us be fair and just in the true sense of the superhero code. This film was well written. It was well acted and shot. Whether or not it was adapted properly – that is left to debate. Until the next film based on a popular superhero hits theaters – Watchmen will have men and women watching for a first, second and third time.

Rick Villalobos is a writer and film critic in Chicago.

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