Watchmen * * * * 1/2

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Director: Zack Snyder.
Screenplay: David Hayter, Alex Tse.
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Malin Akerman, Stephen McHattie, Matt Frewer.

It takes a hell of a lot for me to suspend my disbelief when it comes to people running around in spandex, with existential angst and desperately trying to be taken seriously. Put simply, I’m not a massive fan of crime fighting alter-ego’s but director Zack Snyder may well have cured me of all these ills, with this wonderful adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel.

Set in an alternate 1985 America, where president Richard Nixon has been re-elected for a fifth presidential term. Superhero’s have been outlawed and the whole country is heading toward ruin with the over-hanging threat of a nuclear attack from the Russians. Following the murder of one of their sidekicks, the outlawed former crime fighters begin to re-surface, leading an investigation into the past and present unsavoury activities of the masked avengers.

Being a massive fan of Alan Moore’s comic, I was very interested and excited in whether Zack Snyder could achieve the “unfilmable”. Thankfully and impressively, he has. I tend to be quite critical of adaptations from books but Snyder has done a fantastic job here. Alan Moore’s story (and artwork from Dave Gibbons) has been miraculously recreated onto the screen. Everything looks and feels the way it did on the page with similiar dialogue and perfect casting. Some things have been dropped and wisely the story within a story “Tales of the Black Freighter” was released separately as a short. Snyder also includes brilliantly effective slow-motion action scenes, retaining the violent nature of the comic and perfect use of 60’s/70’s music throughout – particularly Bob Dylan songs. The director showed promise with his earlier films “Dawn of the Dead” and “300”, but here he has outdone himself and achieved exceptionally in a very difficult adaptation which the talented likes of Terry Gilliam and Paul Greengrass failed to do before him.

It all works on a believable level with convincing characters (except one, none of them has any form of super human powers) who inhabit a bleak and convincing, alternate modern world, making it probably the best comic book adaptation I’ve seen so far.

Mark Walker

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