Friday Movie Roundup: Zoo Crews, Watchmen and Vampires

Mar 6, 2009 at 11:38 am

While I recognize and appreciate the undeniable creative juice expended in their creation, I admit to a blind spot when it comes to comic books (aka graphic novels to the genre’s serious devotees). I outgrew the form shortly after the death of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, which went out of print after a 20-issue run in the early 1980s. (Don’t ask how much I spent on a recent, eBay-procured mint copy of the first issue.)

Which brings me to Watchmen, probably the most anticipated movie our young, quality-deprived year to date. —- Zack Snyder’s follow-up to surprise smash 300 hits theaters this week after a long, convoluted path to the screen since it publication in the mid-1980s,  including various stops and starts and a highly publicized legal battle between competing studios. Writer Alan Moore’s and illustrator Dave Gibbons’ dark, brooding take on the superhero comic has left many a studio flummoxed over the years: How does one adapt such a complex, thoroughly adult brew of sex, profanity, violence, politics, misogyny and more for the big screen?

Well, as someone with zero expectations going in — I knew next to nothing about Watchmen’s characters or subject matter, and I found Snyder’s 300 a computer-generated bore — I was pleasantly surprised by the results. Narratively dense but rarely convoluted, politically relevant and amusingly perverse/subversive, Watchmen actually left me curious about its source material — something I can’t say about the many comic-book adaptations that have hit the screen in recent years. (For more on Watchmen, read tt stern-enzi’s mixed review here and Jay Kalagayan’s interview with Gibbons here.)

Elsewhere, another anticipated genre film, Let the Right One In, finally opens at the Esquire Theatre this week (read my review below). Unfortunately, expect but a one-week theatrical run — it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray next week.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN — Hot on the heels of Catherine Hardwicke’s slick, teen-friendly vampire flick Twilight comes Let the Right One In, a subtle, subversive take on the genre from Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson that aptly illustrates the vast artistic gulf between (much of) American and world cinema. (Yes, a U.S. remake is already in the works.) (Read full-length review here.) (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — Jason Gargano (Rated R.) Grade: A-

WATCHMEN — Will the fanboys unite behind “visionary” Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel Watchmen, listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 Best English-Language Novels since 1923? That will likely depend on how faithful the fans feel the vision is to the graphic frame — although some might argue over the liberties taken with the ending. (Read full-length review here. (Opens wide today.) — tt stern-enzi (Rated R.) Grade: C