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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Watchmen’ worth the wait

Because of the inherent aesthetic differences between literature and film, most book-to-movie adaptations feature several alterations from the source material. Often these differences are a necessary modification to the original, while others are often viewed as arbitrary changes made to maximize profitability. In the case of Dave Gibbons’ and Alan Moore’s graphic novel “Watchmen,” director Zack Snyder opted to instead cling to the source material religiously.
“Watchmen” is a remarkable film. Based on a monumentally ground-breaking graphic novel, the film faced major artistic challenges during the adaptation process.
The film’s plot revolves around the repercussions resulting from the murder of former masked vigilante Edward Morgan Blake (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) also known as “The Comedian.” Blake’s murder alerts another fellow masked vigilante by the name of Rorschach (Jackie Earl Haley) to a series of mysterious goings-on related to Adrian Veidt (Matthew Goode), also known by his superhero moniker of Ozymandias. The film follows Rorschach and a handful of other former masked vigilantes as they struggle to come to terms with their history as costumed crime fighters in an alternate history of America. As the fictional world of this film careens toward nuclear holocaust, so too the characters in this chaotic world careen toward what could mean total destruction.
From a box office perspective, “Watchmen” is a phenomenal success. The film grabbed the No. 1 spot for weekend box office performance and has held a tenacious grip since. Midnight showings across the country were sold out as diehard fans as well as those new to the graphic novel packed theaters.
“Watchmen” offers itself up for criticism in two ways: as a film and as an adaptation. As a film, “Watchmen” is a spectacular visual treat. Snyder shifts gears between extreme close-ups, slow motion, sweeping wide shots and slow-motion-to-real-time sequences; similar in many ways to Snyder’s other film “300.” Tyler Bate’s score accentuates each scene with the proper emotion, as do several popular songs from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Being a very visual film, “Watchmen” nonetheless is not swallowed in an obsession with CGI (computer-generated images). None of the actors perform at an Oscar-level, but all performances involved fit into the stylized and somewhat bizarre world of the film.
As an adaptation, the film does more to envision the graphic novel than interpret it. Though some might view this as unimaginative, with a work as enigmatic and near-and-dear to readers worldwide as “Watchmen,” staying as true to the source material as possible was the wisest path. Though there are a few deviances from the novel, nothing modified is so integral as to greatly alter the overall effect of the “Watchmen” narrative.
As a graphic novel, “Watchmen” is almost without peer. Consequently, undertaking the task of adapting this uniquely marvelous piece was doubtless a daunting task and Snyder has managed to pull it off surprisingly well. The experience of the film is in no way a substitute for the experience of the graphic novel, but for what it is the film is good. And for those who missed some of the narrative devices featured in the graphic novel such as “Tales of the Black Freighter,” an extended edition of the film is pending. Even without the extra material, Snyder’s adaptation is as good as it could have been.

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