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Watchmen Preview: Review

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 2, 2008 at 8:40AM

[Posted by Marc Graser]You’ve got to give Zack Snyder a lot of credit for knowing how to sell his movies.
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Watchmencovers

[Posted by Marc Graser]

You’ve got to give Zack Snyder a lot of credit for knowing how to sell his movies.

The Watchmen director showed off nearly 30 minutes of new footage from the comicbook adaptation Wednesday to two groupings of bloggers and entertainment media.

He did the same thing two years ago for 300,”screening additional footage that wasn’t shown at Comic-Con to generate advanced positive word-of-mouth.

He got it then, he’ll get it again. The visuals are stunning. With Watchmen, he’s created a faithful adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel that will satisfy fans. The characters pop off the screen; you can almost feel the texture of their suits, meticulously designed by Michael Wilkinson. The production design by Alex McDowell is overly theatrical but a world you want to visit. Overall, the sequences are mesmerizing and almost trance-like. And it’s dark. Very dark. The Dark Knight has nothing on the grit and violence that’s on screen. But it’s the over-stylized nature of how it’s handled that doesn’t make it cringe-worthy or unwatchable.

DC Comics has spent the past 20 years trying to adapt the comicbook, considered a bible of the superhero genre that other graphic novels and filmmakers have freely borrowed from. Snyder wants the film to be just as important to superhero movies as the graphic novel has been and he may get his wish. But he still has a lot to prove. The final film runs 2 hours and 45 minutes. It could still prove too faithful to the book.

But Snyder’s thought of that, too. The book gets too cerebral at times, with the reader wanting the characters to just start pummeling someone or do what superheroes do. A self-professed action geek, Snyder’s added more action. And while the superheroes do the prerequisite poses one might expect, the punches they throw are choreographed in a way that makes the fight scenes stand out from other similar fare.

What works about Snyder is not only what he puts up on the screen. It’s his infectious attitude, as well. He loves the experience of making movies. He loves the genre of films he makes. And you can’t help but want to get behind him, whether you end up liking the final product or not. 300 can hardly be called a masterpiece or even a great movie, but you have to respect the attempt to make something cool and badass – something you’ve never seen before. He’s delivering. And isn’t that the reason we all go to the movies?

The NYT's Michael Cieply filed a report remarkably quickly after the first Watchmen unveiling. Here's Anne Thompson's interview with Snyder at Comic-Con. And the trailer that was first shown there:

[Originally appeared on Variety.com]

This article is related to: Reviews, Genres, Comics


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.