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Who Watches The Blog-men?

So I spend a lot of my time watching movies, playing games and so on, and I started the old blog in an attempt to review things. A lot of my reviews tend to be for FrankTheMonkey but this blog’s gonna have a lot of things just because they’re what I’m doing at the moment.

So last week I got to check out the screening for Watchmen: if you haven’t heard about it…well, you’ve probably had your head buried in the sand, but if you have…well, the review is just below.

Short answer is 4/5.

<!–[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-IE X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–>If you believe the trailers and the hype, “Watchmen” is a movie twenty years in the making, and adapted from ‘the greatest graphic novel of our time.’ Writer Alan Moore has previously given us “V For Vendetta,” “From Hell” and “The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” but don’t expect that to be any indication of what you’ll see on the big-screen, as Moore’s distaste for Hollywood and the adaptations of his own comics has been well-documented. A far change from “From Hell” or “V,” “Watchmen” has much more in common with the “Batman” movies of the 80s and 90s, with camp costumes and shades of Bond shining through in a way that is both parody and highly reverent.

 

Set in an alternate 1985 where Nixon remains president of the USA, the doomsday clock is set at four minutes to midnight with the USA and the USSR at an uncomfortable truce, held off only by the presence of all-powerful American superhero Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan (Crudup.) Granted powers by a nuclear accident, Osterman (portrayed through motion capture as a glowing, blue, god-like figure) drifts further away from his humanity and girlfriend Laurie Jupiter (Akerman), a retired crime-fighter and vigilante. When another retired ‘hero,’ the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is murdered, the uncomfortably sociopathic Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) investigates, believing that someone is killing heroes and retired heroes alike and that the group formerly known as the Watchmen are in danger, including Rorschach, Manhattan, Laurie, Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl (Wilson) and Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias (Goode.)

 

While the storyline may sound complex, “Watchmen” has a running time of over two-and-a-half hours, giving the story and characters plenty of time to evolve on the screen: nothing feels rushed, and the characters are each given enough time that the film feels like a true ensemble and for a massive part of the movie, the script remains utterly faithful to its source. There’s a downside to that, however, as the unflinching following of the graphic novel’s narrative, including its non-linear storyline and multiple flashbacks, will no doubt cause confusion for viewers unsure of what’s going on, and even drag out some scenes for the sake of framing. The film focuses more on the psychology of the superheroes at its core, and while that proves far more interesting than many superhero/comic films, it makes the film all the more surreal when the costumes come out or we’re treated to the sight of the giant, blue (and prominently naked) Dr. Manhattan.

 

Director Snyder has previously adapted Frank Miller’s “300” and, stylistically, there are many similarities between this and “Watchmen.” The violence is graphic, but hyper-realistic, with some scenes providing more blood than we’ve seen in “Kill Bill.” Snyder’s use of slow-motion keeps the tension high, but by the film’s close, proves a little too much for the relatively low number of fight scenes in the film. The intensity remains in some bristling emotional encounters, with Wilson and Akerman providing the audience’s window into this world, breathing surprising life into two characters that the graphic novel paint as ultimately shallow.

 

There are really three audiences to “Watchmen,” and your enjoyment of the film is based wholly on which you fit into: if you’ve read the novel, you’ll appreciate this faithful adaptation; if you like comic-book/superhero movies, you’ll appreciate “Watchmen” for its not-so-subtle nods and winks to the genre. But of course, there will be the people who have never heard of “Watchmen,” and while some of them may come away having enjoyed the film, the majority will walk away from this film not quite getting how deep-dressed-as-shallow it is, wondering just why they sat through it.

 

Verdict:

Visually stunning, the strengths of “Watchmen” are intricately tied to its flaws. For fans of the graphic novel, it provides the long-awaited interpretation that you’ve been waiting for, but there will be many people who just won’t care for this film, and all you fans can expect to have hours of arguments and explanations trying to convince them in vain that the reasons for them not liking it are the exact same reasons why they should.

 

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