Preview Watchmen

We’ve had a sneak peak at the new Watchmen movie, so what’s the verdict?

We were in London on Friday for a first glimpse at three scenes from the new Watchmen movie presented by director Zack Snyder and artist Dave Gibbons. For those not in the know Watchmen is based on the 1986 graphic novel from comic-writer genius Alan Moore. The comic famously deconstructs the familiar superhero concept, showing us an alternate history of The United States, closely mirroring the contemporary world of the 1980s. It has since won the acclaimed Hugo award and is listed as one of Time Magazines top 100 novels of all time.


The comic was originally intended to be a showcase for a type of storytelling that could only be told via comic books. Moore famously said “There are things that we did with Watchmen that could only work in a comic, and were indeed designed to show off things that other media can’t do”

This led to many claims that the subject matter was completely unfilmable. Many film-makers have tried to tackle Watchmen in the past, Darren Aronofsky, Paul Greengrass, Joel Silver and Terry Gilliam are just some of the high-profile names who spent time developing a big screen adaptation.

When asked by a journalist at today’s presentation how he had managed to film such a daunting project Snyder sarcastically replied, “I just told an actor to stand over there, I filmed him with a camera and when we processed it there was film in it”.

He makes it sound so easy but we could easily be watching an entirely different movie today. Snyder was approached by Warner Brothers when he was in post production with ‘300′, he was told by a studio executive that they had acquired “this thing called Watchmen”. They wanted to update it, remove the cold war, remove Nixon and change the whole thing. “The end result was depressing” says Snyder and left him with a predicament. “If I say no, they’ll move onto the next guy (or up to the next guy, depending on how you look at it). There was a really good chance that all the things they said to me would end up in the movie. If it failed, it would be my fault but if I did make it and it didn’t work, then it would be my fault on purpose.”

So Snyder set out to make his movie, and on his terms also. He refused to make it PG13 because he felt the sex scenes were too cool to remove and the violence just wasn’t suitable for children. So is the world ready for a Watchmen movie? Up until now Superhero movies have featured mostly clean cut characters like Spiderman and Batman that the general public respect but Snyder believes that “pop-culture is ready to have its sh*t shaken up a little bit”. Comparing his new movie to recent comic-book films he says “The Dark Knight poked us in the eye a bit but didn’t hurt us. Watchmen fu*ks with modern mythology. If Superman was real, he would get all the world leaders into a room and would say ‘if you don’t behave I will fu*king kill you’. But no, he’s getting cats out of tree’s… It doesn’t make sense”.


Onto the screening,
Snyder, in his introduction has dissed Superman, Batman and Spiderman, now that’s confidence… but does he deliver? The short answer is yes.

The footage we saw from Watchmen today was spectacular. Snyder apologized more than once for the quality of some clips, because the movie isn’t 100% finished but this wasn’t at all noticeable. Every scene was a work of art, wether you were familiar with the original source material or not, these scenes were so well structured that you can’t help but get sucked into the world of Watchmen.


Possible Spoilers from here on in,

The opening credits are probably the most engaging of any recent movie, set to “The Times They Are A-Changin'” by Bob Dylan, the stylised scenes set the tone and tell the back story from the Minutemen up to the present day heroes. We also see many iconic moments from history retold with the Watchmen characters involved. We see the Watchmen meet JFK, they are present at his shooting on the grassy knoll in Texas, they are present at the Moon landing, they stand alongside David Bowie and Micck Jagger in Studio 54, other historical scenes and characters pop up during the very long but very watchable credits.


Doctor Manhattan’s origin story followed the credits, it has to be one of the most beautiful scenes ever seen in a comic book movie. Narrated by Manhattan in a dead-pan, Monotone voice, we witness his world from childhood to present day. The soundtrack consists of haunting organ music, that builds and builds as his life gets more complicated. Snyder has previously said that this scene one of the most difficult things he had to adapt to the big screen, but he’s succeeded in capturing the tone of the comic book. It’s magnificent.


The final scene shown today is Nite Owl and Silk Spectre in the middle of a full on prison riot. Its dark ,its gritty, its violent and its mesmerising.

Of course it’s difficult to judge based on just three scenes but everything shown today was so promising. This has the potential to be the best comic book movie of all time. It stays faithful to the source material and brings the dark gritty world to life. It’s safe to say we’re more than excited to see the finished product, the next three months are going to be a very long wait.


You can view the latest trailer on the Irish Watchmen site here


Watchmen hits Irish cinemas in March 2009