The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'Watchmen': First flop of the year?

February 27, 2009 |  2:00 pm

WatchmenposterCould the most anticipated fanboy movie of the year possibly be a flop? So says the Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt, who's posted a scathing review of the upcoming "Watchmen," calling the movie "nihilistic and campy," predicting that after a big opening weekend the "box-office slide could be drastic." What's wrong with Zack Snyder's film? Where to begin? Honeycutt writes:

"Snyder and writers David Hayter and Alex Tse never find a reason for those unfamiliar with the graphic novel to care about any of this nonsense. And it is nonsense.... The set pieces are surprisingly flat and the characters have little resonance. Fight scenes don't hold a candle to Asian action. Even the digital effects are ho-hum. Armageddon never looked so cheesy.... The stories are too absurd and acting too uneven to convince anyone. The appearances of a waxworks Nixon, Kissinger and other 1980s personalities will only bring hoots from less charitable audiences. Looks like we have the first real flop of 2009."

Variety's Justin Chang was somewhat kinder in his review, acknowledging that true fans of Alan Moore's landmark graphic novel will "thrill to every pulpy line of dialogue and bloody act of retribution." But even Chang was somewhat underwhelmed by the film's array of visually striking costumed superheroes, saying: "The movie is ultimately undone by its own reverence; there's simply no room for these characters and stories to breathe of their own accord, and even the most fastidiously replicated scenes can feel glib and truncated.... The film seems to yield to the very superhero cliches it purports to subvert."

I'm betting "Watchman" can survive an entire tsunami of bad reviews--it's certainly not the kind of movie that depends on any critical valentines for success. But I'm eagerly anticipating the next batch of reviews, if only to see how the critics end up describing Billy Crudup's Jon Osterman--a.k.a. Dr. Manhattan. Noting his especially striking physique, Chang writes that Dr. Manhattan is endowed with "an often visible set of cerulean genitalia," while Honeycutt describes him as "a naked, glowing giant, looking a little bit like the Oscar statuette only with actual genitalia."

It's just a guess, but it sounds like that might be the only time anyone mentions the Oscars in their "Watchmen" reviews.