Required Viewing: The First 5 Minutes of Watchmen


When I came across this artfully-done Philips ad on Videogum it reminded me a lot of the sweeping opening sequence of Watchmen — which bare with me, but I just got around to seeing over the weekend because I made myself finish Alan Moore’s graphic novel first. (After reading Alex Carnevale’s review on This Recording, I didn’t want to go in and get confused.)

What has left me more confused since leaving the theatre is why so many panned Zack Snyder’s film (some didn’t), which in many ways is a straight adaptation of the beloved comic. Yes, before I get a bunch of angry comments from purists, I know that the ending is a lot different: Ozymandias is way too close to where they crash Archie. Night Owl isn’t supposed to watch Rorschach get killed; in the comic he’s too busy spooning Silk Spectre. And then there’s the disappointing lack of alien squid.

Regardless, I did a quick search and found that the creative team responsible for the opening titles is called yU+Co. I guess they had posted the work online but were forced by the studio to take it down, which is a real shame. It might have been enough to lure a few more people to see this underwatched flick.

Also, from an interview on Fandango, here’s Snyder talking about it:

“From the very beginning I wanted to do a cool title sequence for the movie and it was actually the thing that got me started drawing Watchmen because they were trying to figure out how much this movie was going to cost. I said it’s really impossible to say until I start drawing the movie and a get a sense of what the movie is… So I literally went to the beginning of the movie and started drawing. It was funny because I had the music — I was pretty positive that it was going to be Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’.’ Then it started to take shape for me as we really find out where we are in the world, and that’s how that sequence came about, tracing the alternate history. I shot a bunch that we didn’t use because it got too long, like The Comedian raising the flag on Iwo Jima by himself and Nixon being sworn in.”

This is definitely one worth seeing on the big screen — even if you only stay for the witty and pretty nostalgia of the first five minutes. (Note: Some people in my theatre didn’t make it through the first hour.) Maybe Moore was right, and his work is impossible to film. (I think A.O. Scott would concur. Or at least agree that it’s impossible to watch NOW. You know, as a grown up. Did anyone else find his college student reference a little unecessary?) But I for one enjoyed watching him try.