Well, Watchmen came out this weekend, and so we can now safely say that Billy Crudup’s CGI-enhanced blue full monty and Malin Akerman’s inimitable understanding of “acting” (apparently a mixture of reciting lines like English is your second language and posing like a crime-fighting tranny robot) have safely entered the pop-culture vernacular. I’m not entirely certain either, particularly the latter, opens any useful conversations in our cultural discourse, but at least we’ve expanded our vocabulary, y’all! And to paraphrase the great beacon of 20th century philosophical genius, Nomi Malone, Watchmen doesn’t suck, so I’ll freely admit it:
Let’s clarify, though, in that I said “not too bad.” I neglected to use words like “exceptional” or “awesome” or even (most disappointingly to me) “campalicious.” I’ve also neglected to utilize phrases like “tonally consistent” or “narratively coherent in any way that resembles a movie” because Watchmen is completely lacking in any of those qualities. Hell, Watchmen doesn’t even qualify as a movie so much as an explosion of adolescent id and existential angst moving on screen at 24-frames-per-second.
Yes, there are scenes, and when taken in the order presented in the film, these scenes seem to resemble a plot. The problem, though, is that each scene is so hyperbolically extreme in style and, when compared to scenes before and afterward, contradictory in terms of emotion and feel, that the resulting product feels schizophrenic and unhinged. Snyder dials the violence up to 11 (arms are graphically sawn off with hacksaws and punches are capable of causing compound fractures) and the sex up to ridiculous (the howlingly bad sex scene between Ackerman and Patrick Wilson is Cinemax-grade soft-core porn with a Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” providing the soundtrack and a firing of the flame-thrower on Night Owl’s jet to signal their climax; all parties involved should be thoroughly shamed for that one), yet there are also unexpected moments of beauty in this behemoth.