Watchmen
Watchmen
Justice is coming to all of us, no matter what we do.

By Adam Frazier

Director Zack Snyder has went from an inexperienced young director to visionary filmmaker in three films. Snyder first popped onto the scene with 2004's "Dawn of the Dead," an extremely competent remake of George A. Romero's classic horror film. Using highly saturated color schemes and visual effects, Snyder's flamboyant visual style gives his films an otherworldly quality.

His second film, "300," an adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel, was like a sensory overload of pure Snyder style. Beautifully choreographed fight sequences splattered with blood and sprinkled with slow-motion movements instantly made "300" stand apart from its big screen comic book brethren.

Snyder isn't Kurosawa. He isn't Hitchcock. But he is the go-to guy for horror remakes and comic book adaptations. And when you think about it, isn't that really all our film industry seems capable of these days? In a world of remakes like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Friday the 13th," as well as comic blockbusters like "Spider-Man" and "The Dark Knight," Snyder seems to be making the right moves and picking the right projects.

That brings us to Snyder's third film, "Watchmen," an adaptation of Alan Moore's groundbreaking comic book series. Watchmen is set in an alternate reality that mirrors the contemporary world of the 1980s. The existence of superheroes and masked vigilantes have dramatically affected and altered the outcomes of events such as the Vietnam War and the presidency of Richard Nixon.

The film opens in a simple, yet beautiful manner. On an oversaturated yellow screen, solid black studio credits snap hard into place. Within a matter of seconds, the tone is set. The opening sequence fills us in on some historical moments in the "Watchmen" universe. It's a haunting, gorgeous sequence set to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin" that left me overcome with nostalgia for a time that never even happened.

We're soon introduced to the characters that fill out this gritty, grimy, neon-colored 1980s world. To comic book aficionados, their names are as iconic as Superman and Batman. Nite Owl. Doctor Manhattan. Silk Spectre. Rorschach. Ozymandias and The Comedian. The whole story is used as a means to reflect contemporary anxieties and deconstruct the superhero mythos. These are real people, with real problems - people who retired from their crime-fighting profession and live lonely lives, haunted by the good old days of heroic deeds.

Over the past few weeks, I decided there was no point in taking up space with a plot synopsis in this review. For people who have never read "Watchmen," it's best they experience it with no idea of what to expect. As for the fans (and fanboys) of the comic, they'll be too busy pointing out the differences between the two.

Snyder's style is put to full use in "Watchmen." The way Snyder uses slow motion reminds me of how, as a child, I would linger on a particular page or frame of a comic - soaking up every centimeter of action contained within. The colors are super saturated, the soundtrack and score factor so heavily into the images on screen you can't imagine one without the other afterward.

The themes at play are mature, sophisticated even, and Snyder does an adequate job of translating that to the screen, though he lacks the subtle nuance needed to truly make these ideas resonate.

In the end, Snyder has accomplished something substantial in adapting "Watchmen." This is as good as a film based upon Moore's work could ever hope to be - and that says a lot. It's not going to be for everyone. Some people will stand up and walk out in disgust; others will simply miss the point. But for the folks who love this kind of stuff, this is one of the best comic book adaptations around.

Reviewed by: adam