Saturday, September 29, 2007

Watching The Watchmen

This likely won't mean anything to you non-geeks out there, but the latest super-hero comic book to be slated for production as a movie is DC's "The Watchmen", which has my nerd-ometer all a-twitter.

The original 12-issue mini-series was later collected as a graphic novel, and won Science Fiction's highest honor, the Hugo Award. It was also named by Time Magazine as one of the “100 Best English Language Novels from 1923 to the Present.”

I have to admit I'm a little skeptical that this can be turned into a good movie. The original is so dense, you have to read it four or five times before you really catch everything that's going on. It's a complex, multi-layered work of art, with a crazy number of different plot points, complicated characters, and varied levels of meaning. I don't know how well you can translate all of that into one movie.

Plus, there's just something fundamentally ... well, silly about people dressing up in costumes and fighting crime. The novel addresses this directly and uses it as a major background theme, and it works as told in a comics format. Dave Gibbons' artwork was the perfect blend of realistic and fantastic. But in a movie, you can't get away from the fact that these are real human beings running around up there in tights.

With a franchise like Spider-Man or Superman, it works because they're basically adventure stories. But "The Watchmen" isn't like that. Dare I say it, it's basically a psychological, political thriller. It just happens to feature people in costumes.

It's going to be a real challenge to pull off. It certainly has the potential to be a great production, but only if it's done right, with deliberation and insight. The fact that it's being directed by the guy who did "300" doesn't fill me with confidence -- that was about as two dimensional a script as you can get.

I'll be watching the movie site with interest as production rolls along. I really, really hope it turns out well. Along with "The Dark Knight", "The Watchmen" was largely responsible for launching the more serious, higher-quality, adult-oriented revival of the comic book industry in the 80's. I'd like to see it do the same for comic-book movies.

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