Everybody wants to rule the world


Three important questions to get out of the way before on to the review:

Question 1: Does “Watchmen” measure up to “The Dark Knight?” (A film that has set the benchmark for comic-to-screen adaptations)
Answer: That is asking a lot of not just this, but any film. The short answer is whether you enter for its visceral tricks or story arc, you will not be disappointed.

Question 2: “I did not read the comic. Will I be lost?”
Answer: “Watchmen” is not an easy film by any stretch: almost three hours in length, bone-splintering violence, and thematic elements ranging from government accountability to quantum physics to the existence of God. But it is certainly a film that will repeatedly reward the more attentive viewer.

Question 3: “I lost my iPod Touch. Have you seen it?”
Answer: Check the hamper.

Decidedly adult, extremely of its time (1985), and focused on the lives of “superheroes,” “Watchmen” is aimed at exactly the audience who may be quick to dismiss it.

For it is contemplative, meditative, dense and clearly not for the pre-teen set, but it is classic Greek tragedy, albeit one that features a giant blue glowy guy and a gal decked out in leather garters.

The final product is not without its battle scars, but it is a film that will foster hearty discussion and stir more than one debate between viewers after leaving the theater.

Set in and alternative 1985 (Nixon is our fourth-term president), the film unfolds in a pulpy detective novel. Superheroes populate the country, but have come under governmental scrutiny as vigilante crusaders. Now living in partial exile are:

the-comedian_largeEdward Blake, aka The Comedian (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan): A scurvy, cigar-chomping misogynist whose murder at the beginning of the film sets the plot’s wheels in motion.

rorschachWalter Kovacs aka Rorschach (played by Jackie Earle Haley): An anger-fueled avenger who attempts to get to the root of the murder dispensing his own take-no-prisoners style of justice. Rorschach requests back-up from his former brethren, chief of which includes…

niteowl1Dan Dreiberg aka Night Owl II (played by Patrick Wilson): Now middle-aged, bookish and soft-spoken, Dan’s crime-fighting ways are quite literally his Viagra, which becomes increasingly important when he becomes romantically entangled with…

silk-spectre-large1Laurie Juspeczyk aka Silk Spectre II (played by Malin Akerman): The daughter of a former superheroine Silk Spectre (who now soaks her memories in a martini glass), she serves as the source of internal conflict between The Watchmen, as she was also the former lover of…

dr-manhattanDr. Jon Osterman aka Dr. Manhattan (played by Billy Crudup): The only true superhero of the group, following an accident that stripped him away to his purest molecular level, he now has the ability to bend and shift time and space; he has rapidly been losing interest in the human race ever since, especially a fomer Watchman who chose to cash in on his name, one…

Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias (played by Matthew Goode): A man born of Nazi parents who went on to amass a fortune on his own accord.

I have no idea as to how faithful the film was to its source, as it has been quite some time since I peeled open Alan Moore’s heady prose. But it does posit a number of metaphysical questions that I am quite sure my young brain did not know how to wrap around (who am I kidding, I still need a protractor, a few quantum physics textbooks and a case of Red Bull to fully head down some of the film’s rabbit holes).

Most of these musings are courtesy of Dr. Manhattan, clearly the most complex character of the film, both physically (he’s the one that looks like a Anadrol-enhanced member of the Blue Man Group) and philosophically. Every atom of his being has been restructured, providing him with powers that can teleport him to Mars in the blink of his retina-less eyes, but still he cannot completely grasp human nature. He can systematically end the war in Vietnam, but is perplexed when it comes to the random fusing of DNA.

And for those who are just about to nod off reading that last paragraph, the film also contains a lot of sex.

The acting is solid throughout the clan (with perhaps Akerman being the only real casualty), and director Zack Snyder has packed ever frame to its every edge with eye candy, it’s a film begging to be seen on the big screen. “Watchmen” film does tend to get caught up in its own importance at times, which may work in the paneled world of comics, but is difficult to pull off when actors are stuffing themselves into capes and codpieces.

But taken as a reinterpretation of those Greek tales of men attempting to rub elbows with the gods, “Watchmen” is a welcomed addition to the superhero genre that is headpiece-and-shoulderpads above what the superhero genre can too often become.

~ by usesoapfilm on March 10, 2009.

3 Responses to “Everybody wants to rule the world”

  1. Tight work, well said.

    I still miss the original ending with the squid:


    Good times.

  2. Blarg

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