Watchmen

Watchmen poster

After years of thinking it would never reach the screen, I finally saw the film adaptation of Watchmen last week.

If you are unfamiliar with the source material, it explores what happens to a group of superheroes in an alternative 1985 in which Richard Nixon is a 5-term president and the world stands on the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

The story begins with the vigilante Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) investigating the murder of a former hero called the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and he uncovers a wider plot involving his now retired colleagues.

Director Zack Snyder explains more in this featurette:

 

One of the reasons the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons built up such a fanbase is that it deconstructs the ideas of traditional comic book superhero in dark and often fascinating ways.

But it has proved an incredibly difficult film to bring to the screen with its extended flashbacks, violence and bleak tone.

However, after 300 became a huge and unexpected hit, Warner Bros let Zack Snyder do his dream project which was a no holds barred version of Watchmen.

The good news is that Snyder has been incredibly faithful to the source material and has realised the world of the graphic novel with considerable skill and panache.

The production design and visual look of the film are wonderful to look at (the opening credit sequence is particularly fantastic) and the performances, especially Jackie Earle Haley and Billy Crudup, are good across the board. 

There is also a strange thrill that comes from watching so many ‘unfilmable’ ideas appear on screen and Hollywood conventions broken: it runs to 2 hours and 40 minutes, has a sombre tone, keeps nearly all of the flashback material and – even for an 18/R-rated film – contains quite brutal scenes of violence, rape and even full frontal nudity.

None of it is excessively sadistic, like certain modern horror films, but I have a feeling it may put audiences off.

It is going to have a huge opening, but it will be interesting to see how it does in the long run at the box office. 

I’m split on its prospects. Part of me thinks grosses will tail off after the initial fans and younger males eat it up over the next two weeks.

But if a downbeat comic book movie like The Dark Knight can do so well, then maybe Watchmen has a good shot at dominating the March box office.

Watchmen is out on Friday

> Official UK site
Find out more about the graphic novel at Wikipedia
> Read about the lawsuit that threatened to delay the film’s release

UK DVD Releases: Monday 2nd March 2009

DVD Releases 02-03-09

DVD PICKS

Ghost Town (Paramount): The first proper leading man role for Ricky Gervais in a mainstream Hollywood movie is a smartly written comedy about a grumpy English dentist in New York who starts seeing ghosts after an operation goes wrong.

Written and directed by David Koepp (who made the overlooked ghost story Stir of Echoes in 1999, as well as penning blockbusters like Spider-Man and Jurassic Park), it has a neat comic setup, solid supporting performances from Greg Kinnear and Tia Leoni and some surprisingly touching moments.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray, the extras are the same on both and include the following:

  • Commentary by David Koepp and Ricky Gervais
  • Making Ghost Town
  • Ghostly Effects
  • Some People Can Do It

Linha De Passe (Pathe): An interesting look at contemporary Brazil through the eyes of four poverty-stricken brothers who live in a favela neighborhood in São Paulo.

Directed by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival back in May where one of its stars, Sandra Corveloni, won the award for Best Actress.

* Listen to an interview I did back in September with Walter Salles *

 

[ad]

ALSO OUT

100 Feet (DNC Entertainment)
Bad Biology (Revolver)
Burn Notice – Season 1 (Fox)
Charles Darwin & The Tree of Life (2 Entertain)
Ghost Town (Paramount)
Gran Casino (Optimum)
Incendiary (Optimum)
La Bohème (Axiom Films)
Le Cercle Rouge (Optimum)
Le Doulos (Optimum)
Leon Morin Pretre (Optimum)
My Dinner with Andre (Optimum)
My Name is Bruce (Anchor Bay)
Nights of Cabiria (Optimum)
Oz and James Drink to Britain (Acorn Media)
Pride & Glory (EIV)
Quiet Chaos (New Wave Films)
Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Series 2 (Warner)
The Baxter (Momentum)
The Federico Fellini Collection (Optimum)
The Jean-Pierre Melville Collection (Optimum)
The Midnight Meat Train (Lionsgate)
The Warlords (Metrodome)
Transsiberian (Momentum)
Victorian Farm (Acorn Media)
Waterloo Road – Series 3 (Acorn Media)
Wise Blood (Second Sight)

> Buy Ghost Town and Linha de Passe  at Amazon UK
> Browse more DVD Releases at Amazon UK and Play
Check the latest DVD prices at DVD Price Check
Take a look at the current UK cinema releases (W/C Friday 27th February)

Birds Eye View Film Festival 2009

This year’s Birds Eye View Film Festival has been announced and will run from March 5th until 13th at the BFI and ICA in London.

The festival celebrates international women filmmakers and is back for a fifth time.

This edition will take place over 9 days and will feature over 70 events with films from around the world.

There will also be an exclusive masterclass and retrospective from director Mary Harron (American PsychoThe Notorious Bettie Page), one-off live music events from cutting edge female artists, moving image innovation, fashion films, training workshops, parties and a good deal else besides.

Check out their official site at www.birds-eye-view.co.uk/festival