Though it's been deemed unfilmable for years, the acclaimed graphic novel "Watchmen" has finally come to the big screen. I'm not into the camp who felt this movie was unfilmable. It was filmable, the question was whether people would pay to see a superhero film that was as dark as this. Well, through the combined sophisticated efforts of "Spider-Man 2," "The Dark Knight," and "Iron Man" have kicked down Hollywoods prejudice doors to let in "Watchmen." Based off the graphic novel from Alan Moore (who asked to have his named removed from the credits), "Watchmen" is a classic for those who are into the whole comic book scene. Time Magazine even got caught up in the stories spell, and named it one of the greatest novels of all time. That does not guarantee a good movie, but it's certainly an impressive build up wouldn't you say?
The movie is shockingly similar to it's source material, which should please fans of the material, but it's bold and fresh enough on it's own to warrant catching the attention of people who may not be familiar with it. I won't claim that non-comic book fans will instantly fall in love with this though. The story begins with the murder of The Comedian, a semi-retired superhero who continued the good fight after President Nixon outlawed superheros. Oh, but this isn't a scenario where the creators simply put a caped crusader into a pivotal moment in history. No, this is a retelling of history. In this universe superheros actually helped the US win the Vietnam war, and as a result Nixon gained more power. So much power that he struck down the two term law and is now sitting comfortably in his FIFTH term as president! Yeah, I can hear all you liberals out there screaming murder, but calm down: We all know this really didn't happen.
Besides, Nixon is a minor player in this soap opera. The real star of the movie is Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), the only member of the Watchmen who considers his alterego to be his one true identity. When he loses his mask he feels he has lost the one thing he enjoys doing. He believes that this murder may be the first in a series of murders, where as time goes on the assassin will come to kill the remaining members of the Watchmen. His best friend is Daniel Drieberg (Patrick Wilson), otherwise known as Nite Owl II. Daniel thinks that Rorschach is just blowing off steam, and that what happened to comedian was unrelated to the whole superhero thing. The only other person who might believe that theory is Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), a big blue superbeing that may have the power of God.
He's concerned about the idea of a superhero murderer out there, but is more concerned with the threat of nuclear war. He can see the future, and his vision has been blocked past a certain date, and he fears for the end of humanity. Or does he? Now that he is pure power his humanity has been slipping away, and his girlfriend, Laurie Juspeczyk/Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), is especially frustrated by the lack of intimacy in their relationship. There are other characters who also contribute to the overall story, but I can't get into them here. Not only would it start to get redundant for me to explain what every major character does in this film, but I may spoil some of the twists for people who aren't familiar with this material.
"Watchmen" is a skilled, dark, and deeply complex film of people. Not superheros; people. While they may wear masks and dress in funny costumes they have feelings. Time has changed them all, and many of them can only contemplate what's happened to them. One of them never leaves the superhero business, feeling that is the side of him that now defines him. Another person has come from that life broken and shamed, constantly crying for the humanity he lost. In a way this is not too different from soldiers who fought the Vietnam war themselves. It's almost ironic that a movie that fears nuclear war is released this year, when real nuclear war seems like a possibility more then ever.Though this is a great movie it's not a perfect movie. The violence, while necessary, seems more glorified then it should be at times. The director decided to take a beautiful sex scene and make it campy and drawn out. Maybe the worst offender though is that director Zach Synder uses a slow-motion shot every chance he gets. After the twelfth time this happened I no longer felt anything special coming from the effect, and started to wish he would just get on with his point. I don't expect everyone to fully embrace this film either. For some it will be too adult and strange for them. Others might not like it on principle alone (A.K.A.: They never should have made a movie in the first place), but I think I can safely recommend this to fans of interesting cinema. The key word being "interesting." Because this is what the film is, even if you don't particularly care for the final product.
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