I never read the old Watchmen book. Called by many the greatest graphic novel ever and read by millions, I was going to consider reading it after I saw the film maybe catching what they changed and get more insight but now, I think I'll pass.
The film is about an alternate 1985 where Nixon has remained in office and the world is constantly facing a doomsday clock where Russia could launch it's weapons in a moments notice. A once proud group of masked crime fighters have been outlawed by the President and have either retired, been incarcerated or died with only a few of them still working and one is Rorschach a private eye whose face is obscured by a mask with a constantly shifting ink blot. Others try to work on a solution to the worlds impending nuclear crisis.
The premise of the movie isn't quite the story it once was with themes that have diminished over the years only to be reborn again as metaphors for our new society. The story material is certainly heady and not your standard comic fare.
People have said that the original graphic novel is almost unfilmable but came across well for a movie as best as it could. I guess that's a plus but here is a big minus. The characters.
First off, only one of these guys is actually a "superhero" in that he has superpowers. He can seemingly do whatever he wants. More on him later. The rest of the characters are more or less people in costumes in what are more or less based loosely off of other DC characters. At times very loosely as in to imply ripped off. Nite Owl is clearly based off of Batman. There are probably others but I'm not a big DC fan so I'm not entirely familiar with all the characters. A friend of mine though backs up my claim and cites a copyright issue in that real DC characters were supposed to be used. Maybe it's for the best.
If you read my Star Wars Episode II review, I said that Anakin Skywalker in that movie played a real whiny unlikeable character and was the lead protagonist no less. Imagine for a second that DC had a Jedi character in one of their comic books who had to be ported over into Watchmen to be used as a character. Anakin would be the Watchmen Jedi. Maybe you can see where I'm going with this.
I can't think of one of these "heroes" that left me with a real good feeling. One is taking matters into his own hands to change the world and make it a better place one that will have massive casualties. The ends justify the means for him I guess, that isn't anything new. The aforementioned Rorschach speaks in Christian Bales Batman voice as he tells us what a dank polluted hell the city is. I knew the world wasn't always a great place but after listening to his hard boiled city talk of life through a sewer tinted lens where STD's and serial killers are everywhere, it ‘s enough to make someone whos high on life and in love with the world end it all. No hope with this guy, no matter how cool he could have been. Don't even get me started on the Comedian. He beats up and even attempts to rape one of his colleagues, gets a girl pregnant while in Vietnam and later kills her and takes glee in shot gunning rioting civilians! Aren't these guys just precious?
I saved the best of last, Dr. Manhattan, a seemingly omnipotent glowing blue man who can do, well pretty much whatever he wants and is a key factor in trying to save the world from nuclear attack. If arrogance and pretentiousness had a picture it would be one Dr. Manhattan. When he isn't walking around in entire scenes completely NAKED he's spouting platitudes about the world and how he is above everything on another plane. Then why are you trying to help stop a war? This is a man who in the middle of the movie takes off from Mars to live, leaving the big blue marble behind with it's problems. Remember how I said that he can do pretty much anything? In the aforementioned scene above where The Comedian shoots and kills a woman he got pregnant? Dr. Manhattan is right next to him and does NOTHING to save her. The biggest crime of ALL is that if he can stop this impending war, why DOESN'T HE?!?! I guess then there wouldn't be much of a movie. I know that there was something in there about nations being responsible and all that, but clearly if they're threatening each other with nuclear arms with the narrow vision in that the world could literally be destroyed, it's not very responsible so SOMEONE with the power to do something should step in and put an end, someone like Dr. Manhattan. With great power comes great responsibility Manhattan. Where's Spiderman, a REAL superhero to kick some sense into your blue naked butt?
Like I said I can find the good points in almost every movie but here it would have to be production. Scummy jail cells look they way they should. The seedy downtown with it's porno theaters and run down little tenant apartments look right. Nite Owls toy collection is equally good and looks like it's equipment the one and only Batman might actually have in his Batcave.
The bottom line, great production doesn't save a real pretentious nature coupled with an unlovable bunch of would be heroes with a dated story that only serves again as a metaphor for today. Should I have read the book first? Did I miss the point? Did I just not want to like this movie? I think the answer to these is all no. Dr. Manhattan could maybe enlighten me if he can get off his blue high horse.
What did you think of this review?