Page last updated at 17:11 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

'Faithful' Watchmen film promised

By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News


The second trailer for Watchmen

Hollywood director Zack Snyder has promised his adaptation of cult graphic novel Watchmen will be faithful to its source.

Presenting three excerpts from his forthcoming film at a press event in London, he said he wanted to give audiences the "quintessential" Watchmen experience.

"My hope is that audiences will have their minds blown, just as mine was when I read the comic," he told reporters, ahead of his film's UK release next March.

Watchmen author Alan Moore has already disowned the adaptation, insisting his name be taken off the credits.

"Alan's had some bad experiences with Hollywood," said British artist Dave Gibbons, who drew the illustrations for the original 1987 comic.

Snyder, who directed the 2004 remake of zombie horror Dawn of the Dead and the 2006 movie 300, said he was "disappointed" by Moore's decision but respected his wishes.

'Moral ambiguity'

Set in an alternate version of 1980s America, Watchmen imagines a parallel universe where masked heroes and crime-fighting vigilantes are commonplace.

Only one, though, has super powers - the luminous Dr Manhattan, a scientist who acquired god-like abilities after a laboratory accident.

Watchmen poster featuring Dr Manhattan
The film is based on the graphic novel by British author Alan Moore
Snyder said he felt compelled to direct the big-screen adaptation after reading an early script full of what he believed were ruinous embellishments.

"I felt that if I didn't do it, it would still be my fault if someone else directed it and it didn't work," he revealed.

The film-maker admitted he had faced pressure from his studio bosses to tone down some of the novel's graphic sex and violence.

"I understand from a business standpoint that they want to release a movie everyone can watch," he told reporters.

"I just think audiences are ready for a superhero movie that shakes things up a bit."

For his part, Gibbons said he was happy with the adaptation and had enjoyed being involved in the process.

"I wanted the tone, structure and moral ambiguity of the novel to be left intact, and it has been."


Reporters at the Vue West End cinema in London's Leicester Square were shown three excerpts, among them a violent fight scene that opens the movie.

A second clip explored the origins of Dr Manhattan's transformation, while a third showed a pair of costumed heroes breaking into jail to liberate another.

Shot in Vancouver, Canada, the film follows such successful comic book-inspired films as Iron Man and The Dark Knight.

Its cast includes US actors Billy Crudup and Patrick Wilson and British actor Matthew Goode, seen in the recent film version of Brideshead Revisited.

Watchmen is released in the UK and the US on 6 March 2009.

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