“Staggering Failure”

The fact that I was instinctually repelled by Matt Selman‘s whorish and insipid remarks about Watchmen (Warner Bros., 3.6) doesn’t mean I have a dog in this fight. I don’t. I worship any film that convincingly creates in its own realm and knows how to zap the audience into believing in its theology, so if Watchmen manages this feat, terrific. But a trusted journalist friend, aroused by yesterday’s uproar over Selman’s very suspicious testimonial, passed the following along this morning. Again — I have no stake in this. I’m just a guy on the sidelines.

“I’ve seen Watchmen,” he began. “And speaking as a huge admirer and devotee of the graphic novel, the film is a staggering failure. On the plus side, you’ve got a pretty literal adaptation of the source material. It is at times a meticulous and gorgeous recreation of Alan Moore‘s original work. Unfortunately it’s an empty, inert, meandering and, yes, boring 2 hours and 45 minutes.

“Oh, and it’s horribly acted throughout. Truly. Malin Akerman (i.e., Silk Spectre II) confirms whatever fears you may have initially felt after The Heartbreak Kid and 27 Dresses. Carla Gugino (the other Silk Spectre) just looks silly. Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl II) is his usual blah self. Only Jackie Earle Haley‘s Rorschach and Billy Crudup‘s Dr. Manhattan register at all.

“Sadly even the presumed up-and-comer Matthew Goode plays Ozymandias, the world’s smartest man, as an arch and slightly bored Bond villain. I had high hopes after being wowed by him in The Lookout, but he’s bungled this great opportunity. (It’s clear in retrospect the part should have gone to a real star. Say what you will but Tom Cruise would have been perfect.)

“I say all of the above as a person who was very much into the 20 minutes they screened for all of us months ago. Sorry to confirm our worst fears but those scenes in fact remain the best and among the few that work on any level.

Watchmen is just not much of a movie. It has no narrative pull and no characters to invest in. It uses rotely shoehorned-in action scenes, and has a sheen that doesn’t befit the dark material.

“So much for the visionary vistas of Zack Snyder. Oh, what Paul Greengrass could have done!

“And to reduce it all to dollars and sense, I’ll be shocked if this one plays to a wide audience after an admittedly huge weekend. Watchmen fans are in for a rude awakening.”