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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Movie Review - Watchmen

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Movie Review - Watchmen

Starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, and Matthew Goode.

Running Time of 2 hours 43 minutes and rated R for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and language.

While it is painfully obvious to some, to others it is not, and I shall do my best to not reveal any details of the plot that would spoil it for someone going to the flick without knowledge of the graphic novel. I feel that it may be a bit hard to do, so I will reveal that the next paragraph has spoilers in it, so those going to the flick that don't want to read about specific events may 'skip' the spoiler paragraphs.

First of all, the description. A complex, multi-layered mystery adventure, 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 -- moves closer to midnight.

When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the outlawed 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 disbanded 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? -- Warner Bros

I used the synopsis straight from Warner Bros as this is a very hard to explain/describe flick. I usually just tell people to pick up the graphic novel upon which it is based and read that for your description as it is an excellent book. It is actually rated one of Time Magazine's 100 Best Novels of all time. With that, it has been in the works as a movie for a LONG TIME with many different directors and actors attached to star in it including Kevin Costner, Robin Williams and Jamie Lee Curtis. All attempts at converting the very violent and complex graphic novel to a movie were eventually canceled or shelved until Zack Snyder of '300' fame showed how he could faithfully recreate a graphic novel for the big screen and make it work. 300 was a surprise hit two years ago this month. After that, Snyder got the job of directing Watchmen and has finally delivered the extremely faithful adaptation.

The movie, other than the ending, is very close to the original graphic novel. Snyder made sure of this by working with the original artist of the book and using the book as his storyboard. To some this was great, to others not so great. The movie tends to lack a bit due to the extreme attention paid to keeping it faithful to the source material. The movie plods and tends to linger on scenes that really should be moving the plot line along quite a bit quicker. The almost 3 hour running time already had lots of side issues cut out but it would have been a more manageable movie inside 2 hours for all the people that have never read and fell in love with the graphic novel.

So, it's a toss up. Some love it, some hate it. On rottentomatoes.com where they use a system to get a critical consensus, it is currently rated 66% which isn't bad by any means, but close to that mark where the movie tends to divide most people. I managed to watch the film twice in the opening weekend. The first time, I had the privilege to watch it in a quiet theatre with just the manager of Cinema 3 to accompany me. I was quite literally confused with the slow pacing and story. The movie just throws information at you the entire flick and although it gets a bit boring, if you aren't paying attention - you probably won't understand all of it. The second time, I watched it with a crowd of people at a regular showing. I could see the two groups of people in the audience. The ones who were paying close attention and those who were becoming bored with the plot. Myself, I wanted to understand it and watch for the little things I probably missed. I missed a lot that first time and after a repeat viewing, I enjoyed it much more. This is a movie that will probably just get better with more repeat viewings, as it already has for me.


Watchmen is an extremely violent flick and has some disturbing scenes that will leave a mark on you. There are two particular instances where, if you are like me, will make you squirm in your seat. First - the shooting of a pregnant woman. The fight leading up to it and the fact that it happens is quite shocking. Second - two dogs are fighting over the remains of a small child. Each dog has a side of a leg bone with the child's shoe still attached to the end. These are just two examples of the violent nature of the film and while they both help the audience understand the hero's perspectives, they are disturbing.


Overall, Watchmen is a very visually stunning, faithful adaptation of one of the most popular graphic novels of all time. It is close to being exactly what fans of the graphic novel could hope for except for the ending that was completely changed from the original. Other than that, the producers, directors, and stars did an amazing job in recreating the book. Does it work as a movie though? Not really. I was really hoping to see a movie capture the feeling and essence of the book, but it didn't. It just recreated it in another format while losing some of the elements that managed to make the graphic novel so appealing. In the change between formats of storytelling something was lost. Does that make it a terrible movie? No. Actually, the movie was quite well made and worth watching. Heck, I watched it twice already, which I don't do with many movies, especially in theatres. I would highly recommend the film, but recommend the graphic novel even more. As an extension of the graphic novel, it works as a companion piece but not as a stand alone flick nearly as much.

Watchmen is playing at Cinema 3 in McCook. Check out showtimes at www.fridleytheatres.com.

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