Who will watch Watchmen when the Watchmen are not watched? Who cares? Zack Snyder adapting Alan Moore should prove inconsequential at best, unmoving at most. Flaky filibuster meets foregone conclusions and addictive mediocrity. You, the reader, can decide which is Moore and which is Snyder. Clocking in at close to three hours, Snyder would, presumably, have much to comment on when it comes to the standalone superhero classic, but there is no such luck. He has yet another busted flush to add to his miserably demented filmography featuring nothing but odd action, adaptations and vile, underutilised ensembles that can never break on through to the side of quality. Much of that comes down to the director himself.
Even when he moves away from the annoyances of his direction that can be found in later years, their prevalence is still uncontrollable. Slow-builds are not the same as slow-motion, and as Snyder opts for the latter rather often, it gives Watchmen the uncontrollable ability to have most of its exciting, invigorating moments slowed down to a crawl. At least his choreography is decent. It is ruined somewhat by the incessant desire to have extreme close-ups, cutting the flow of the hard-working stuntmen. Even then, the record scratch moments and lack of style beyond slowing a scene down is a hard hurdle to leap. Not a worthwhile one, either, for all he can offer instead is the cutaway to a thrown weapon or character lying in ruin. There is little variety to his action, which is shameful considering there is so much of it.
Where his adaptation of Watchmen is concerned, there is no way of knowing whether or not it is accurate or acceptable. Who has time to read these days? Moore’s pacing, likely, has craft and thought behind it. Snyder takes a literal stance on it all. The slower the scene, the slower the actual actions and activities of a character. Still, Snyder does well to feature Bob Dylan on the soundtrack. Dragging the good name of Dylan through the mud for a comic book car crash surely has some display of artistic endeavour to it. Even then, it is another cheap tactic. Snyder deploys this truly magnificent song to tell us what the camera cannot. “The times, they are a-changin’” croons Dylan. On screen, you’d never guess what’s happening. The times are indeed changing. We are given the night and day contrast. It crops up a decade later in Army of the Dead, another Snyder piece. His inability to express thought without musical interludes or obvious, hand-holding devices is what restrains his craft so frequently.
There is yet to be a Moore adaptation that truly strikes as not just convincing, but entertaining. That may be more a fault of the material, rather than Snyder. Watchmen is far from engaging, but those darker themes that Moore toyed with in his graphic novel are present, and Snyder does well to coax them out of their shell. It is his straight-shooting adaptive work that best suits him, yet still, we are stuck with his bland mockeries of what innovation should be. Watchmen is watchable, nothing more and nothing less. It is the most amicable of his projects for it dispels his style so quickly. Yet even then, we are trapped with it forevermore, and even those few moments of tedious slow-motion and the ineffective utilisation of pre-prepared characters is startling, surprising, and yet rather expected of a Snyder-helmed piece of film.