In director Zac Snyder’s head, this film is an epic superhero movie, part-Goodfellas or Godfather, part Shakespearean tragedy. Unfortunately that movie is still somewhere in his head.
Released in 2009, and recorded by myself nearly a year ago, I’ve finally summoned the will to watch the nearly 3 hours of this adaptation of one of the most revered graphic novels. I haven’t read it; I haven’t read any graphic novels. Not because I deem them unworthy of my attention – I’m just aware this a genre I’d need to get to grips with. That’s something I’ve never done.
The problem with adapting any loved source is the faithfulness/adaptation debate. This misses the point – it’s best to think of book and film is 2 separate incarnations of a third party – the story. Look at a film like Trainspotting to see it done to near perfection. The two media are different, and so should the interpretations of a story in those media. Zac Snyder’s film goes, I’m told for fidelity – trying to tell a story set inappropriate alternative 1985 where Nixon is still president, where superheroes are known to the public and where public opinion is on the turn. Then there’s some kind of murder story. And something to do with nuclear weapons. And, apparently, relationship stuff.
The plot doesn’t seem to flow; parts of the script would be returned to a high school film studies student to try harder. It a very, very long two and three quarter hours film.
It’s not all bad – some action scenes are ridiculous and aimless; some nicely handled and artfully directed. It’s at it’s best when it sticks to the detective story elements – sadly, that’s all too little, lost in all the apparently aimless meanderings.There’s probably a good film to be made from parts of this source; sadly, this one doesn’t make the appeal of the graphic novel apparent to anyone who’s not already on-side. A missed opportunity.
I rated this film 2/5 on rottentomatoes.com and 4/10 on imdb.com