NEW YORK — With less than a month until the release of “Watchmen,” there was doubt as to what their panel would provide. What would they do to entice their audience? After the full cast panel at San Diego Comic-con in July where then never before seen footage was shown, it seemed like there was little Warner Bros. could provide that would whet our already starving appetite for more “Watchmen.”
So they gave us Dave Gibbons and showed us the first 18 minutes of the film.
The footage reaffirmed what I already anticipated — “Watchmen” is brilliant. Dave Gibbons, co-creator and illustrator of the “Watchmen” graphic novel, discussed with the audience how director Zack Snyder incorporated a combination of scenes both in and outside of the comic book to create a better visual picture for all audiences to appreciate. I was awed how, within the first 10 minutes of footage, “Watchmen” had managed to establish the idea of “the Doomsday clock is always five minutes to midnight” and the fact the film takes place in an alternate time where Nixon is still president.
Without giving too much away, Snyder uses the opening credits of the film to give the viewer a brief history of the world “Watchmen” inhabits. Not only did they incorporate historic instances, like Kennedy’s assassination and a woman placing a flower in the end of a soldier’s rifle – an icon Vietnam image – but they also showed scenes to introduce the concept of the Minutemen and their progression to the Watchmen.
There were cheers from the audience at the right moments, like when a young Rorschach appears on the screen and when “Who watches the Watchmen?” is sprayed on a storefront window. But the audience of the New York Comic-con panel is a dedicated group of “Watchmen” fans, and I’m curious to see how much of the film – or at least its first 18 minutes – someone who hasn’t poured over the comic would understand. Seeing a picture of Laurie in the Comedian’s apartment made me appreciate Snyder’s attention to detail, but I’m worried anyone who isn’t familiar with the “Watchmen” universe will have no idea what’s going on after the film’s fast-paced start.
Regardless, Snyder has created a fantastic visual interpretation of one of the greatest graphic novels of all time. His attention to detail and careful representation of the story’s characters emphasizes how much effort he put into making the film adaptation of “Watchmen” as respectful an interpretation as possible to the graphic novel.
The first 18 minutes looked beautiful. Let’s see on March 6 whether the rest of the film holds up to that standard.