Not sure if any of you have heard, but they finally got around to making a Watchmen movie. Well, I got a chance to see it this weekend, and I have to say, it’s just fine. It’s a little hard writing anything about it, as this has been one of the most highly-anticipated films of the last twenty years. It’s been hyped-up for so long that it can’t help but feel a little anti-climatic once it’s all out there for you to see. But, we’ll try anyway…
Watchmen takes place in an alternate United States in the year 1985. In this world, masked superheroes are a part of everyday life. When the Comedian, a former member of the superhero group, the Crimebusters, is found murdered, the vigilante Rorschach takes off on a mission to uncover his killer. What he discovers is a conspiracy that will kill millions, and destroy the lives of countless superheroes.
Previous incarnations of Watchmen had been scrapped due to budget disputes, creative differences, and the fear that a film could never do the comics justice. Luckily, director Zack Snyder was able to present audiences with a story that stayed true to the source material, and at the same time worked as a film. Fans of the comics should be more than pleased. A few subplots were stripped away to keep the movie from running five or six hours, but the core story is all there, in all its depressing, introspective glory.
I wonder if Snyder made a conscious deicision to cast smaller names so that the actors wouldn’t overshadow the movie. Whether or not he did, it worked out for him. These are people you’re getting to know for the first time, and the chemistry is really something to watch. Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian, I’m looking at you.
The film’s special effects look great, and are presented in a way that’s unique to the film and not just a 300 retread. The first scene, in which the Comedian meets his demise, and any of the scenes of Dr. Manhattan on Mars are great examples. I know it’s kind of obvious to say that the movie features some impressive eye candy, but the movie features some impressive eye candy. Not the least of which is Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre. Seriously. Hubba hubba.
UNDER-17 ALERT – The movie also features violence and glowing blue private parts that may be offensive to some viewers. Billy Crudup and his magic johnson are almost cartoonish, so it wasn’t distracting in any way. Reports of exactly how over-the-top violent the rest of the movie is I found a little exaggerated. Don’t get me wrong, there are some choice scenes in there, but Kill Bill or El Mariachi this is not.
Because we’ve seen the trend over the past couple of years, it’s easy to say that Watchmen is another film featuring deeply-conflicted superheroes, although the comics started that trend when they were first published in ’86. When it comes to that depiction in the film, however, I felt things fell a little short. The world Snyder’s created feels real, but I couldn’t help but feel that I was looking at everything through a thin layer of gloss. This sort of character was presented more genuinely in The Dark Knight. There was this sense of brooding that I was expecting but never got. That’s not to say that the movie did a poor job, just that other movies have done it better.
Casual fans will probably be put off by the film’s mighty mighty 163-minute runtime. But rest assured that things don’t drag, and the world is so rich and textured that it’s easy to get lost in it all. This is one of those epic movies that you’ll want to catch in theaters, and shell out the $50 when it comes out on blu-ray, because it’s going to make your socks roll up and down. A-