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Watch out for 2009’s “Watchmen”

Szymon Ryzner | Monday, November 17, 2008

Many of you have, no doubt, seen trailers for a new superhero movie. The trailer looks fairly generic, filled with 300 style effects and a plethora of unknown actors. Though the marketing teams seem confused with the film’s direction, the many fans of its source material are counting down the days until it appears at the local Cineplex. 

“Watchmen” has been a hit with all types of nerds, geeks and dorks, and like everything they have come to love, it will soon be as mainstream as every other superhero has become in these last few summers. The story centers on costumed crime fighters who, with one exception, have no special powers. Surprisingly, they are completely human. 

The story is filled with betrayals, hubris, omnipotent cynics, good, evil and the confusion in between. Taking place during the Cold War, the story of “Watchmen” begins with the murder of a former caped crusader and doesn’t slow down.

The film is based on a graphic novel, originally 12 comic book size chapters – yes, 12, like a watch, there’s plenty of symbolism for you. Filled with quotes and quotable moments, references and allusions, it is a virtual time capsule of the 1980s. The characters, too, are worth mention, with most portrayed as morally ambiguous and all being character studies of quality. 

Alan Moore, the creator of “Watchmen,” has also written the original works on which films such as “V for Vendetta,” and “From Hell” have been based. He has often been a critic of the movie industry’s take on graphic novels, firmly believing that since he created “Watchmen” as a comic, then it should remain as one. Never has he given a green light to make film versions of his creations, but he has said that the screenplay for the upcoming “Watchmen” film is the closest he could imagine a screenplay adaptation could come.

With its captivating and memorable visuals, the graphic novel has often been called a cinematic work, yet most have considered the text to be “unfilmable.”

Directors such as David Hayter and Darren Aronofsky have been trying since 1986 to cinematically interpret the novel, and the ultimate product is set to emerge this March. 

There are many reasons why this film has potential; being called the “Citizen Kane” of comic books is a good place to start. 

“Watchmen” is the only comic book to be on Time magazine’s list of the 100 best English language novels (from 1923 onwards). It has won the Hugo award and garnered universal critical acclaim. 

From a film perspective, “Watchmen” has another thing going for it – it’s not unlike another comic book film that came out this summer, one that was based on a popular graphic novel.

Though the other film had an all-star cast and much more name recognition, “Watchmen” and “The Dark Knight” both spring from the same creative vein. 

There are only so many ways to inspire interest in a film that’s not due to be released until next spring, and it would be difficult to mention more without giving valuable information away. Rewatch the trailer, read the graphic novel, convince your friends, and go see the movie. One of those four will no doubt be enlightening to some degree, and might even be fun.

Moore’s graphic novel has been around for over twenty years, and will no doubt be influential in various media for decades to come.

The original text may be called a seminal work, but it will only matter in March of 2009 when we find out who actually watches the “Watchmen.”

The view expressed in Scene and Heard are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Observer.Contact Szymon Ryzner at sryzner@gmail.com.