Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Who watches The Watchmen? Maybe nobody.

I worry about The Watchmen.

It's not that I have any emotional investment in the comic book adaptation coming out next year. I've never read the source material and I only have a basic understanding of the general story. But given that it is one of the most successful graphic novels of all time, I worry that it will be headed for a big fall.

In terms of film, the superhero genre has gotten to about the same point as the spy genre in terms of saturation, cliches and parody. One of the best examples of these, Mystery Men, was about a group of misfits that really had no superpowers at all. As it happens, most of the characters in Watchmen also have no superpowers. The superheroes of Mystery Men (The Shoveler, The Blue Raja) seemed to be scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of their names and their outfits. And at the risk of offending the Watchmen faithful, the same could be said of that group of "superheroes" as well.

I mean, c'mon: The Comedian looks like a cross between Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man (sans power armor) and Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder (sans blackface), Nite Owl looks so generic as to almost be invisible, Rorschach appears to be a leftover Dick Tracy villain, and the Silk Spectre has an outfit that simply doesn't work.

Could this be yet another case of something that works in print but should have never dared to be live action? I don't know. I feel sorry for the fans that may very well get their hearts crushed when this thing hits the screen in March.

And yet I can't deny the allure of that trailer: The perfect Smashing Pumpkins accompaniment, Billy Crudup transforming into a naked blue god, the"what-if" history it develops by dropping these folks into real events of the past and seeing what percolates, and the sheer WTF-ness of the closing clockwork image.

I could be wrong (It's been known to happen). We'll just have to wait another eight months to find out.

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