Movie parts with conventional superhero storyline, grasps for a truth that will leave some cheering.
By: Chauncey Telese
That said, “The Watchmen” is a spellbinding film that takes every comic book cliche and turns it on its head. The film is based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Gibbons, which is listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 greatest novels of the 20th century and remains one of the most popular graphic novels among comic book fans.
The movie was originally considered un-filmable due to its content and overall grand scale, and was in production limbo for years going through a variety of different directors ranging from Terry Gilliam (“12 Monkeys”) to Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Supremacy, United 93”), to the man who eventually helmed the film, Zack Snyder (“300”).
Snyder, a Watchmen fanatic, promised to adapt the graphic novel to the utmost of his abilities. He succeeded in creating a movie that caters to the fanboys who grew up reading the book, but may alienate those new to the Watchmen universe. As with the book, the film takes place in an alternate 1985, with Richard Nixon on his fifth term as president and a doomsday clock counting down impending nuclear war with Russia.
The audience is also introduced to The Comedian (a charismatic Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who is murdered in his apartment by an unknown assailant.
Then, via a montage set to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin” the audience is introduced to who The Watchmen were and the outlawing of masked vigilantes. The audience meets ex-Watchman, Rorschach (a haunting Jackie Earl Haley), who is investigating the murder to prove his theory that a killer is targeting masked superheroes.
The plot unfolds over two hours and 41 minutes, which may seem like a daunting task to some, but the character development benefits from the added effort.
Parents should be forewarned that this is not a movie that caters to kids, but rather one that is entirely made for an adult audience. The film contains graphic violence and foul language, with sexual content including repeated scenes featuring a computer generated Dr. Manhattan being entirely nude on screen.
Those who are still game for a movie featuring all of these aspects will be treated to a comic book film that dares to be different.
While the film contains dazzling special effects and brilliantly crafted fight sequences, the true beauty of the film lies within the breathtaking performances that permeate the movie. The highlights:
Jackie Earl Haley’s Rorschach, who puts so much anger and pain to make Rorschach the same violent and psychotic character that he was in the book. Rorschach is on par with other well known psychopaths such as Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs” and even Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight.”
Billy Crudup, who plays Dr. Manhattan, is given a challenging task in bringing heart and soul to a character that is comprised (except in a flashback sequence) entirely of computer-generated imagery. Crudup manages to make the audience feel the pain of a man who, through an accident, becomes a god like figure who slowly loses his connection to humanity.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Comedian is shown to be the most vile of human beings, but he manages to play on the audience to connect with him because of his charisma and heart.