As is the release of The Dark Knight wasn’t exciting enough a new piece of information makes me rue and lament the United Kingdom’s week long delay in getting the film into cinemas. This information is of course the news that the Watchmen trailer has been attached to prints of the film, naturally a filmic adaptation of one of my all time favourite Graphic Novels has me a little hot under the collar. Thankfully the trailer is available for download from Apple and you can see it embedded below (albeit in You Tube’s funkily low resolutions). Whichever option you choose you’re sure to find something at least a little interesting. The teaser trailer is most certainly a little different, slow paced and moribund and showing off elements which you wouldn’t normally associate as money shots. As such its a perfect trailer for a Watchmen adaptation.
Chances are if you’ve watched that trailer you’ll either be ecstatic or a little bit confused. For the neophytes to Watchmen you’re probably wondering why they’re using that Smashing Pumpkin’s song from Batman and Robin (which for the record is the one plus point in that cinematic train wreck) and what the deal is with the gigantic blue dude vaporising Vietcong. If you’re a fan of the material you’re probably just excited that it looks so right.
Released between 1986 and 1987 Alan Moore’s twelve issue comic book would be one of the landmark works in the comic industry. Taking a sideways look at the notion of heroes and their perception in the world, Moore constructed a world in which Heroes had integrated themselves into normal life. A world where costumed avengers had struck out in the 1940s and a nuclear powered science experiment had won America the Vietnam War and increased tensions in the Cold War. It was a book which explored the unwavering fascist elements of the character, which asked actual questions of its characters and presented its cast in unflattering shades of grey. It was both iconic and iconoclastic and its sheer depth of narrative has rarely been rivalled.
Bring the Graphic Novel to the silver screen was not easy with various different scripts and directors (both Darren Aronofsky and Paul Greengrass were at one point attached to the project) associated with the film in its arduous preproduction. Zack Snyder, re-maker of Dawn of the Dead and adaptor of 300, was the director who was able to coalesce Watchmen’s serpentine narrative into a singular project and his work so far looks stunning.
Of course Snyder’s past work suggested that the film would look fantastic. Whilst lacking the commentary of the original his reworking of Dawn of the Dead was one of the most visceral and satisfying horror movies of 2004. In fact the opening sequence showing the start of the zombie infection and scoring a worldwide apocalypse to Johnny Cash is probably one of my favourite introductions to a film ever.
I have issues with 300, but they are all issues I have with Frank Miller’s source material. Looking past the inherent fascism of the film, and the worryingly positive public reaction to the Spartan code, it was a tremendous piece of work. Of course neither of the films has the narrative issues that Watchmen is sure to bring. Whilst Snyder is a consummate visualist I do have to wonder how he’s going to approach a film that is all about deconstructing the mythos of comic books he so lovingly embraced in 300.
Still with a release date in March 2009 we have quite a wait until we discover if Snyder has pulled it off or not. For now all we can do is enjoy the pretty pictures. And they truly are pretty pictures, I still can’t get that first sequence from the trailer (which depicts the birth of the blue colossus also seen in the film) out of my head.