Watchmen was the most popular movie in the US last week but you wouldn't know it from the nearly empty suburban Chicago theater I went to Friday night to see it. The graphic novel was one of the highlights of the comic-book reading days of the 80's. I forgot most of the details in the over 20 years since I read the graphic novel and I purposely didn't go back so the movie would seem fresh.
Zach Synder did
a good job of taking much (but not all) of the graphic novel into a
160 minute movie that never dragged. I enjoyed the movie but it didn't
seem fresh since Snyder set it in the 1980's, an alternate 80's with
Nixon still president, but the 80's nevertheless. At one point
Ozymandias sits in front of a bank of TVs showing
shows and commercials (Where's the
Beef?) from my distant past.
But how would it play to
those younger than me who can't remember the cold war, Vietnam and
Nixon and the real threat of all out nuclear war between the US and
Russia? After all the cold war ended in a much better way in reality
than it did in the movie. It was a mistake not to put the movie in
present day (perhaps with a 98-year old Ronald Reagan as president)
and use our fears of terrorism as the catylyst for the events in the
movie. The reference to current times came from the twin towers of the
World Trade Center prominently found in the New York skyline shots in the
Watchmen the graphic novel worked because it played
on the issues of its day. Watchmen the movie tells the the story of
a time distant in my memory and it just doesn't work as well.