The reviews of Zack Snyder's Watchmen are pouring in, and a pattern has developed. The movie blogs are proclaiming the film a new masterpiece, but the mainstream media is clutching its head and groaning.
Writes the New Yorker's Anthony Lane:
The bad news about "Watchmen" is that it grinds and squelches on for two and a half hours, like a major operation. The good news is that you don't have to stay past the opening credit sequence-easily the highlight of the film.
If you think that's harsh, look at New York Magazine's take:
Alan Moore refused (in advance) to put his name on the movie, which must have hurt Snyder and company terribly; they've made the most reverent adaptation of a graphic novel ever. But this kind of reverence kills what it seeks to preserve. The movie is embalmed.
Newsweek's Devin Gordon goes even further, hinting that the fanboys who now praise Watchmen may eventually come to view it as another Phantom Menace.
Says EW's Owen Gleiberman:
Watchmen isn't boring, but as a fragmented sci-fi doomsday noir, it remains as detached from the viewer as it is from the zeitgeist.
And perhaps harshest of all, AP's Christy Lemire taunts the fanboys who may love this movie:
Hey, fanboys. Yeah, you guys, the ones who flooded my inbox with e-mails after I trashed Zack Snyder's "300," wishing birth defects on my unborn children and suggesting that perhaps my husband isn't - ahem - keeping me satisfied.
Yes, I've read "Watchmen." I understand why it matters culturally, why it's considered revolutionary in its exploration of flawed superheroes, why it moved you. It moved me, too. And still - or, rather, because of that - I found director Snyder's adaptation hugely disappointing, faithful as it is to the graphic novel.
And meanwhile, the movie blogs and nerd outlets are ecstatic over the same film that's causing so much pain to New York Magazine.
I WATCHED THE FUCKING WATCHMEN AND FUCKING LOVED IT! It isn't the perfect 5 hour wet dream that I always dreamt of, but I love it. I can't wait to see the dialogue you all have with this film, with each other and with us here at AICN. This was fucking awesome!
If nothing else, Zack Snyder's Watchmen demands praise as an awe-inspiring achievement... It's a remarkable film, and an uncompromising one. It's the sort of movie that major studios are simply not supposed to be making now that the 1970s are over... A glorious, epic, exciting, mind blowing piece of art.
As a movie Watchmen is every bit as risky, edgy, and aspiring as it ought to be. As a bonus it's also really, really good.
On many levels, Watchmen is a masterpiece. Visually striking from its first to last frame, Snyder's adaptation, in my opinion, even surpasses the source material.
(Although the review goes on to point out a lot of problems in the film, but then winds up saying it's basically great.)
The blog response isn't unanimous. JoBlo gives the movie a lukewarm review, for example. (My own Watchmen review will be up tomorrow, when I've had time to ponder it. Suffice to say, for now, both the New Yorker and Ain't It Cool News are right.)