Watchmenwas a 12 issue comic series, compiled into a graphic novel, written by comic legend Alan Moore. Over the years, many film adaptations have been put into action, from the likes of filmmakers such as Darren Aranofsky and Paul Greengrass, but ultimately failed to materialize. But in 2007, Zack Snyder, of Dawn of the Dead and 300 fame, unveiled the teaser poster of his adaptation of the book. Ever since, die hard fans such as myself have been buzzing and waiting for the moment we got to see the graphic novel we so loved very much surface on the silver screen. I must say, Watchmen was a treat to watch. The film, starring Billy Crudup, Mailn Ackerman, Patrick Wilson, Jeffery Dean Morga, Carla Gugino, Matthew Goode, and Jackie Earle Haley as the vigilante Rorschach was a sight to behold.
The film takes place in an alternate 1985. Richard Nixon is entering his 5th term as President. The Vietnam War has been won by the super-human being of Dr. Manhattan (Crudup). The Soviet Union is narrowing in on nuclear power, and is set to invade Afganistan. The Keane Act has outlawed any type of vigilante work. And a man named Edward Blake has just been murdered in New York. A masked vigilante named Rorschach (Haley), who refuses to quit his job, unveils that Blake is actually The Comedian, a superhero who was apart of the Minutemen (a 40s crime team), the Watchmen (the title group Rorschach was also apart of), and ended his life doing missions for the government. Rorschach slowly starts to discover that the murder of Blake could just be the start of a long line of murders done by an unknown force. He quickly warns his former Watchmen colleagues, Dr. Mahtattan, the Nite Owl (Wilson), the Silver Spectre (Ackerman), and Ozyamandias (Goode). As the plot unfolds, taking the viewer through the past and present of the characters, Rorschach quickly finds that things are not as they seem.
The director of the film, Zack Snyder, has chosen to film a more elaborately shot film than his previous two efforts, a mall in Dawn of the Dead, and a green-screen in 300. The film’s overall direction by Snyder is his finest work to date. The film is almost a homage to the original graphic novel, following the story almost panel by panel. Snyder always makes a fun movie, and although the length of almost three hours may turn some viewers off, the time goes by quickly. The film is a treasure chest for die hard fans of the comic, putting little tidbits of information in the film, from the decorations in Edward Blake’s apartment, to the news stand where the two Bernies are featured, to the headquarters of the Nite Owl. The film’s cinemography by Larry Fong is also a treat to see. The film’s opening credits might be the most intoxicating part of the movie, chronologically telling all the world’s events in the Watchmenworld to the tune to Bob Dylan’s “The Times Are A’Changing”. My Chemical Romance also covers Dylan’s song “Desolation Row”, which echoes over the closing credits.
The performances in Watchmen are all over the chart. Jackie Earle Haley provides the film’s strongest performance, which reminds me of Heath Ledger’s Joker turned to the good side of the law. The scene where an unmasked Rorschach interviews a prison doctor will leave the audience in awe. Matthew Goode also provides a strong performance as Ozyamandias, who keeps the tone of the novel’s character but adds his own sullen twist on the role. Jeffery Dean Morgan was great as the Comedian, keeping the character sadistic, but also the audience will care for the character in the end. Patrick Wilson was good as the Nite Owl, but the book’s character almost had more personality. Malin Ackerman provides an average performance as well. The scene that actually puts the film down a bit is the scene of “passion” between Wilson and Ackerman aboard the Nite Owl’s floating ship, which is a factor that helps the film earn it’s R-rating along with violence and language. The cast of Watchmen was diverse, but all fit together in the end.
Watchmenis one of those films that the person that has never read, or has even never heard of the graphic novel might find confusing and pointless, but the die hard fan will enjoy every second. I would recommend that if one does see this movie, they should become familiar with the graphic novel, or even better yet, read it. Although I found the graphic novel superb to the film, Watchmen was a faithful and entertaining adaptation of the classic story, and one I hope to see again very soon.
4 and 1/2 out of 5