Who Watches the Watchmen? Me and a lot of other people.
Mar 31, 2009
Pros: Wow. Just...whoa.
Cons: Not for everyone, definitely.
The Bottom Line: A movie that takes time to absorb - even a carload of friends may be silent for a bit on the way home before launching into typical after-movie conversation.
I just got home from watching Watchmen. It is currently 12:07 AM. The movie began at 9:00 and ended around 11:45 PM, so be ready for a picture that's long and involved.
As some people are aware, Watchmen has its roots in a graphic novel. They're superheroes ala Batman (re: human - not mutants or Kryptonians), except the novel is more social commentary than feats of crime fighting and bad guys going down. Gritty is one of the words to describe it. It brings the ugly face of humanity to the forefront - even in its heroes. I haven't read the novel, though I have skimmed through it and read a few parts (while at work in the bookstore of course) and I did have an inkling of how it ended. Suffice to say, if you're a person going in thinking this is a typical superhero story (the trailer says "someone is killing off the Watchmen" thus people think it's a game of find-the-guy-who's-killing-heroes when it's much deeper than that), guess again.
It's the late 1980s in a sort of alternate timeline of what we are familiar with in our past. Nixon is president, the USSR is in power, and the threat of nuclear war lingers heavily over the world. In New York, someone is indeed killing off members of the Watchmen, but only Rorschach seems to believe it since only one of them (The Comedian) has died so far. The group has since retired, letting go of their alter egos to leave the nation to itself since people began to rebel against vigilantism. He tells Nite Owl/Dan and it isn't long before things begin to drop like dominoes, all leading to humanity's destruction.
Really, that is the best summary I can come up with. The plot starts out simple enough, but it turns out only to be a subplot in something that is much, much deeper. The thing is, Watchmen is one of those movies that takes at least two viewings to completely catch everything. There's a lot to take in and several people to follow. You slink around with Rorschach as he tries to find the killer of The Comedian. You hang out with Dan as he tries to make sense of the world around him as well as his Nite Owl persona. You follow Laurie/The Silk Spectre as she struggles to handle Dr. Manhattan and Dr. Manhattan is just on a different level than all of us, being completely in tune with the whole of creation.
Add to that, you have to realize that the Watchmen group formed out of an older group with several of the same names. For a while there I wasn't sure which generation of superheroes we were following - the second or third. You are, in fact, watching the second generation of heroes (Laurie is actually the second Silk Spectre, her mom was first). This is mostly because not everyone is a descendent of the original group, and you get a lot of flashbacks during the movie. It's much like a puzzle and you'll be piecing everything together as you go. Still, you should be able to gather enough that when the end arrives, you'll be on track enough to be a little stunned.
Acting was, in a word, fantastic. I can't think of anyone who ever fell out of character or....well anything. They played their characters amazingly and even then it was fascinating to watch the characters become their hero counterparts. Especially Rorschach and Nite Owl. I mean....geez, who would ever guess? I found myself making assumptions about Dan until later on in the movie he slipped into his Nite Owl costume and I just sat there kind of stunned. I mean, he really doesn't look like the guy that can kick someone's ass with that much ease.
On that note, action scenes were superb with plenty of sweet choreography that will make you wish you were a superhero even if most of these people's lives are fubar. And Peter Parker thought he had it bad. It's visually stunning, but most of us pretty much saw that coming. If you saw the trailer and got your hopes and expectations up, trust me, the movie does not let you down. Though I hadn't read the novel in full, I feel pretty certain that it translated very well to the screen. Colors were vivid where they needed to be, dark and grimy when the occasion called for it.
This movie pulls no punches and I mean none. That includes the following;
Stuff to be aware of includes very graphic violence, disturbing scenes (as in worse/creepier violence), a rather soft porn-like sex scene (even I was going, "Whoa, damn" with that one), and well, Dr. Manhattan is naked for the majority of the graphic novel, and so he is in the movie. Yes. You are thinking on the right track. While I have no problem with it and actually applaud them for translating the novel over like that, I'm sure someone somewhere will or is having issues with it.
When I walked out of the theater, I wasn't entirely sure what to think. Oh, I liked it, make no mistake about that. It's a full on creeped-out-adrenaline-rush-hot-damn-that-was-messed-up movie going experience. The combination of eye-popping visuals, killer fight scenes, maybe-not-so-healthy amount of violence and gore, and overall aim of the bad guy (or is he?) was just a mixture I was not exactly sure how to handle. But I liked it.
Oh yeah, it was a trip.
P.S. I still can't believe I'm saying this, but somehow, I found Nite Owl sexy. Gotta be the costume....
P.P.S. Oh, wait, I just figured out why. Because underneath that 80s hair and big glasses was Patrick Wilson (aka Raoul from Phantom of the Opera - which is actually kind of weird because I didn't find him all that hot in that movie...I was busy gunning for Gerard Butler...)
All I know about WATCHMEN I learned from the movies. I'd never read the graphic novel…I'd never heard of it, in fact, until buzz about the movie started. So I cannot comment on the faithfulness to the source, or whether it captures the spirit of the original work. So for this novice, WATCHMEN was a big, often entertaining, sometimes tedious mish-mash of straight-forward action film, a tongue-in-cheek spin on the superhero genre and a sometimes interesting … more
Careful what you ask for, you just might get it. I always wanted to see the Watchmen made into a movie. At the same time I knew it would be a train wreck. It had to be. How can you get everything from the graphic novel into one movie? You can't. it's just that simple. Still they tried. Problem is I don't give credit for effort. Only for success. The biggest problem for me is how they changed the ending. … more
I'm a firm believer in that you shouldn't review something if you don't know the full story (or at least the background), like a person who doesn't play video games reviewing a video game movie or criticizing a Sci-fi film because you don't understand something or a better example me reviewing the Watchmen Movie. See i never read the graphic novel so I went into the theater (opening day might I add) expecting a classic Superhero movie, (Spiderman, … more
WARNING: This review may contain spoilers! For the past decade Hollywood has been scrambling over the rights to adapt comic book characters to the big screen. This year one of the most celebrated graphic novels is being brought to theatres in a cinematic adaptation that may very well be the most highly anticipated film of 2009. But can director Zack Snyder's film adaptation of Alan Moore's masterpiece Watchmen satisfy legions of rabid comic book fans and still succeed commercially … more
If there's one thing that I lament about the film-going experience as I get older, it's that I move further and further away from the boy who used to watch movies with unquestioning wide-eyed amazement. When I turned thirteen I started looking at film with a slightly more critical and as the years packed on with an increasingly cynical eye. It's a very rare experience for me to walk into a film without the baggage of 20 odd years of cinema watching experience, comparing … more
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 … more
Comic book adaptations are all the rage these days and they are a dime-a-dozen. To prepare for the film and to write this review, I re-read the graphic novel so I can give a more detailed viewpoint. "Watchmen" is adapted from the award-winning 12-issue mini-series in the 80's which in turn became a popular graphic novel. The graphic novel was written by Alan Moore (From Hell, V for Vendetta) and illustrated by Dave Gibbons (Green Lantern) and adapted to the big screen by Zack Snyder (300). … more
It's really a mixed bag. A lot of what worked for the graphic novel doesn't translate well to the big screen. But it comes alive enough to keep you entertained, even if it doesn't fully satisfy. A few cheesy liners and a few moments where the movie takes itself a little too seriously is nothing to deter anyone from going to see it. And for what it's worth it's a decent movie. The problem isn't so much the movie, but more that what they had to work with was very complicated. I would say they did … more
Zach Snyder does his best to adapt the "unfilmable" graphic novel magnum opus from Alan Moore, and comes up short from either fans who wanted more, or didn't think it stuck close enough to the source, not to mention the general public who the story went over they're heads due to almost requiring the audience to come in knowing whats going on. Uneven performances and loss of narrative hurt what could have been a pretty good adaption.
The movie was a little bit dark (the superheroes in this parallel universe literally kill their enemies) but I found it entertaining throughout. The movie starts with the murder of The Comedian, a sometimes hero, most times a nasty bully acting as a hero. He was part of a group of masked adventurers called the Watchmen. Most of the Watchmen were retired but they get together at the funeral and each has their memories of the group that go back to the 1940's. There is also … more
There have been numerous attempts to adapt the superlative graphic novel Watchmen, which was written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, into a feature film. The first serious proposal to do so came in the late 1980s and for a long time director Terry Gilliam (director of Brazil and 12 Monkeys) showed interest in making the film. However, after numerous attempts to create a script, Gilliam was quoted as saying that the graphic novel was too complex and too amorphous for even him to adapt. Later acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain) was reported as a possible director, but this never came into fruition. Initially set to direct the film was Paul Greengrass (director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum). However he was sacked during budget disputes at Paramount Studios, who were at the time meant to release the film. Since then Zack Snyder (director of the remake of Dawn of the Dead and of the film adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel 300) has been assigned the role of director and the film has been moved from Paramount to Warner Bros. Studios.
The film was released on March 6 of 2009. On July 21 of 2009 the film was released in both theatrical and director's cut editions on DVD. On November 10 of 2009 the film was released in an Ultimate Edition containing Tales of the Black Freighter animated sequences and linking scenes.