The 2009 movie directed by Zack Snyder and based upon the book by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

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Who Watches the Watchmen? Me and a lot of other people.

  • Mar 31, 2009
  • by
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...)


Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.

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February 01, 2011
I agree with you about watching it at least two times. This is a film I will need to revisit one of these days. Nice review!
February 01, 2011
real fun review to read! Thank you!
More Watchmen (2009 film) reviews
review by . November 17, 2010
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 …
review by . September 25, 2010
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 …
review by . July 26, 2009
Not being a big follower of the endless slew of comic book conversions, I was refreshingly surprised with how good this film is. Directed by Zack Snyder, who previously made 300, apparently the movie has been stuck in development hell for years with one director after another bailing out, since the original graphic novel is a rich and complex environment that has a Lord of The Rings unfilmability (though of course, Peter Jackson proved everyone one on that one).       There …
Quick Tip by . May 22, 2010
Not a comic book watchin kinda guy but this was a good movie with some depth
Quick Tip by . February 01, 2010
How long has it been since this film came out? Doesn't matter, it's still terrible...
Quick Tip by . November 08, 2009
A comic book movie for adults -- in an alternate reality, Nixon bans heroes as society moves to nuclear war. Will our heroes step in? Dark!
review by . March 08, 2009
  Let's just say that I should have stuck with my gut and not have seen this movie. I knew it was going to be bad and it was. A stupid trailer that was better then the first one made me go see this movie and I dragged other people with me including my fiance who had to be up early the next day. What was so terrible about this movie? For one thing the blue dangling penis that happened to be waving for most of the move. I mean really, it should have had a line in the credits because it was …
review by . March 05, 2009
The godlike Dr. Manhattan in
Fanboys rejoice!  Director Zack Snyder, of "300" fame, has faithfully adapted Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel "Watchmen" with intensity, style and passion.    The film has a few minor flaws in its narrative, as it crams an epic story into 2 hours and 43 minutes, however the end result will entertain casual moviegoers looking for an action movie with a brain. "Watchmen" revolves around the lives of estranged heroes who have devoted their lives to protecting a world that has …
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2009
There's so many green-screens, so much slow-motion and slavish obedience to the book, that at the end of it all, there's nothing human left.
review by . April 13, 2009
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 …
About the reviewer
Nicole ()
Age: 27 Currently: Freelancing my butt off and querying my other novel, Blood for Wolves. Who likes seriously factured fairy tales? =D      Like books? Then take it from a real, live … more
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Production Overview

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.

Cast / Crew and ...
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Director: Zack Snyder
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Release Date: March 6, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: David Hayter, Alex Tse
DVD Release Date: July 21, 2009
Runtime: 162 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Legendary Pictures
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