March 7, 2009
Review - " Watchmen " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
For comments or to submit a movie review for possible inclusion on Delta Films site
please send an email to Critics@deltafilms.net
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jacki Earl Haley, Jeffrey
Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson
Hollywood has turned out a plethora of comic book movies in recent years and I
have enjoyed all of them. Even the not so great ones like "The Phantom" &
"Daredevil" were entertaining and fun to watch. "Watchmen" is set in an
alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of
everyday society, and the "Doomsday Clock" - which charts the USA's tension
with the Soviet Union - is set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former
colleagues is murdered, the washed up but no less determined masked
vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and
present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion - a
ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers -
Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to
their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission
is to watch over humanity... but who is watching the Watchmen?" I've never
read the graphic novel or even heard of "Watchmen" before so I had no
preconceived notions other than seeing the previews in the theater.
Watchmen is an extraordinarily mature, risky project for Hollywood.
The movie begins with a former super hero, the Comedian, being killed in a long, tense and action-packed scene that sets
the proper mood and makes one long for more, which we get plenty of the next 160 minutes. After this scene comes the
brilliant intro montage (with 'The Times They Are A-Changin' in the background), which introduces the Minutemen and helps
newcomers to pick up on the story. It's an alternate 1985. Richard Nixon has been elected to a fifth presidential term. But the
USSR is encroaching on Afghanistan, and the US isn't taking too kindly to it. Enter the smartest man in the world, Adrian
Veidt (Matthew Goode), formerly known as superhero Ozymandias, who is working with Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), a
physicist who has achieved immortality and near-omniscience owing to a long-ago lab mishap. With Dr. Manhattan's help,
Adrian hopes to dissolve the tension between the two superpowers. In this alternate existence you get to see Henry
Kissinger, Lee Iacoca and all sorts of characters from our recent past, hell you even get to witness who really killed Kennedy
on that grassy knoll.
But that's not the only conflict, not by a long shot. Since the characters here are unfamiliar to most audiences, there's plenty
of backstory, seamlessly edited into the main story as important details that inform the characters. (For one thing, we get to
see the rather graphic - more on that later - origin of Dr. Manhattan.) The superheroes have conflict within their own group,
which has gone its separate ways - with different goals and outlooks. Not only that, but the world at large isn't entirely on the
side of masked avengers, labeling them as vigilantes. By the present, most of them have ditched their costumes for
traditional lives; some tinker with their gadgets in their basements, in hiding, and some merely blend into society.
Everything that comes after this is in one word overwhelming.
Every character is well cast, takes complete hold of your
attention and gets the time for a proper and detailed
introduction. Patrick Wilson is perfect as Dan Dreiberg,
Rorschach a joy to watch and you're watching Dr. Manhattan
in awe, which makes sense for his character. Also, I'm sure
everyone will secretly fall in love with Silk Spectre II (Malin
Akerman) who looks stunningly sexy in black and yellow
Be warned: this is not your regular superhero movie.
Watchmen seems to reveal a much darker existence and
reality into their world, the world of these superheros that we
have seen so many times before. This isn't teenage Peter
Parker, running and flying through the streets of New York.
This is a much darker piece of work including, graphic violence, murder, sex scenes and nudity between these heroes.
These are not your typical super heroes, most don't even have any extraordinary powers. They grow old and retire and
others take their place. These "heroes" are flawed human beings with all the pettiness, greed, avarice, and lust of the rest of
humanity. Some of these Watchmen are simply not nice people. Be it boiling fat thrown over a man or bones broken in the
most horrible ways, there's plenty of gore. But the movie also doesn't fall short in nudity. Apart from a short scene involving
Malin Akerman, it's Billy Crudup who gets to run around naked showing his digital penis the whole time as Dr. Manhattan. It
doesn't distract however, but gives Watchmen something truly adult, very different from the far more gentle super-hero flix.
Billy Crudup as Dr Manhattan and Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach create characters every bit as captivating as Heath
Ledger's Joker; Malin Akerman makes an entrance to the world of superhero timelessness that will be the fantasy of every
teenage boy, aged 15 to 50; and from the flawless art direction, set design and special effects to a mesmerising soundtrack,
The special effects are really good, Dr. Manhattan looks awesome, Mars looks like you expect Mars to look and Rorschach's
mask remains fun to see from start to finish. Most of the visuals and environments are very colorful and almost drown in
atmosphere, a very welcome change from the realism that 'Dark Knight' had. This is simply more fun to watch and impresses
a whole lot more. The soundtrack is fun, picking various songs from that period. I'm sure most wouldn't work as well in other
movies, but they seem perfectly in place here.
Overall, "Watchmen" seems like a dense, deep, complex
look at the superhero world. It made for an interesting film,
that I just had to see. It's not perfect, and I'm sure some
people won't like it, but a damn good film nonetheless. If you
go in looking for an interestingly done story about a new
kind of insight to the dark world of superheros then this film
should work for you. "Watchmen" has turned out to be the
most complex, exhilarating and deeply-moving fantasy film I
think I have ever seen, which surprises nobody more than
me - and, man, did it surprise.
And you won't have to walk out at the end of "Watchmen"