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...)
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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.