<i>Watchmen</i>: The Latest Distraction

Seriously: What isbut yet another distraction - a bit of apocalyptic storytelling meant to take our minds off the apocalypse now?
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So - the economy is still on the verge of collapse, everyone I know is nervous about employment and 401Ks - the future is, as always, uncertain and anxiety-producing in ways that seem newly frightening.

But the big topic of discussion this week, of course, is Watchmen, the epic comic-book movie adapted by Zack (300) Snyder from the iconic graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

The debates will be multiple and hard-fought: Is it faithful enough to the original? Too faithful? Is its violence outrageously graphic? Is it as good as its rabid fan base hopes? Nay, make that: Is it as excellent? As transcendent? As transporting? Or is it a nihilistic bit of pop garbage meant to pollute the minds of teens and young adults?

Who cares?

That's what I hate about this moment in time: There's no such thing as simply seeing a movie like this and enjoying it on its merits. The hype machine has been pumping since before Snyder rolled the first camera. It's been building to a deafening roar since the first of the year. You can't escape it - it's impossible not to get burned out on it, whether you're interested in the subject or not.

There are so few surprises anymore at the movies. That's my theory about why Slumdog Millionaire was such a hit (aside from its obvious feel-good/uplift appeal): that it came out of nowhere, with no stars. It was an irresistible surprise that had the good fortune to take on the momentum of a snowball rolling downhill.

Watchmen, however, comes with prefabricated momentum - it's practically mandated. But this is still a movie that's bound to polarize the audience.

So I'll admit: I was happily surprised. This movie delivers as a splashy, bloody comic-book adventure that stays true to its roots without being slavish about it (despite numerous images taken directly from the comic's pages). It's both headlong and thought-provoking, attacking the notion of heroism and the role of the hero in society in ways that The Dark Knight only talked about.

For the rest of this review, click here to go to my website, www.hollywoodandfine.com.

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