Comic Book Guy lends us his expertise
Watchmen – a Review (with apologies to Elizabeth Browning)
How do I love Watchmen? Let me count the ways.
I love the depth and breadth and height of its special effects
The epic scope of its story,
of the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love the level of detail in every scene
I love its heroes as men who (could) strive for right.
I love its ambiguity, as society passes into night.
I love it with the passion of a fanboy
who sees its greatness brought to life.
I love it despite its running time.
I love it because it is all things great,
a super hero movie you should not hate.
Watchmen is another graphic novel brought to the big screen. It’s an epic superhero tale set in an alternate 1980’s America. Costumed heroes exist and were outlawed as vigilantes. Nixon is on his 5th term, the cold war is ongoing and the US seems to be ahead only because of Dr. Manhattan, a “hero” with god-like powers bestowed on him as the result of a freak nuclear accident. The narrative line revolves around a murder mystery – someone is knocking off heroes. It quickly evolves into something much more and ends with (spoiler alert) a big bang. Several of them, in fact.
Having read the original when it was released as a comic in the late 80’s, I’m hardly an objective source and I should probably recuse myself on this one (see poem, above). But this is a beautiful movie to watch. Gorgeously rendered and choreographed. The same guy who brought you 300 (another awesome movie) did Watchmen up right. It’s a big, dense, long movie. It’s not traditional superhero fare – we seem to think of costumed heroes being about truth & justice and moral superiority. Alan Moore, the original writer, has turned this paradigm on its head. Moore long since left the project (which has gone through multiple unsuccessful efforts to bring it to the big screen) and there have been wholesale omissions and plot rewrites but the story remains true to the spirit of original graphic novel.
Unfortunately, there are some problems. In a post 9/11 world, the whole superpower/cold war/doomsday clock thing seems quaint We’ve seen the horror of our new world and nuclear annihilation doesn’t punch our buttons like it used to. The world is a much different place today and I think the story has lost some of some of its original punch. Many of the cultural references may be lost on the under 25 crowd and may seem too Forrest Gump-like for the over 25 crowd. The acting is well, acting. It’s secondary to the story and SFX. And yeah, it clocks in at a bloated 2 hours and forty-plus minutes (although I didn’t mind – I thought the pacing was fine).
For those of you who read the graphic novel – you’ll love it. For those of you who haven’t… well, if you like science fiction/alternate reality – go see it. It’s greatness. For those of you who think superhero movies are for kids – you’re wrong on this one. Go see it anyways. Plus you’ll get to see the really cool trailers for Star Trek, Terminator and X-Men Origins. I can hardly wait for the summer movie fare to arrive.
I give it an “A” for awesome.