**/**** Image A Sound A Extras B+
starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino
screenplay by David Hayter and Alex Tse, based on the graphic novel by ALAN MOORE and Dave Gibbons
directed by Zack Snyder
by Walter Chaw It knows the notes but doesn't hear the music. Watchmen, Zach Snyder's long-awaited, over-hyped adaptation of Alan Moore's venerated graphic novel, is technically proficient and occasionally beautiful-looking but also flat and nerveless. It has no heart and, more damning, no real understanding of the irony of itself, save for a title sequence set to the tune of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" that's bound to be the best five minutes I'm going to see in any movie this year. In this stirring montage, a travelogue through the three ages of comics against the backdrop of American history, Snyder captures the idea that what Moore accomplished in casting a conversation about idol-making through the most populist medium of pop culture is in fact translatable through film, this other most populist medium of pop culture. Where the picture missteps is in restoring the superhero group Watchmen to the heavens, resurrecting pop icons in impossible, perfect, virtual tableaux: the character designs are impeccable, the suits are clean, and the violence is obscene, yes, but glossy enough that when things stop for a moment to delve into one character's appalling creation story, it feels unearned and exploitive--so much so that the question that fast follows of why the rest of it feels removed and inhuman almost derails the entire enterprise. Coming from a guy who more admires the Moore source than loves it, it occurs to me that Watchmen is a movie made by Dr. Manhattan; it should've been made by Rorschach.