Watchmen (2009)

Based on the comic book from the 1980’s of the same name, Watchmen is set in an alternative 80’s America, with Richard Nixon still as president, and the Cold War reaching a worrying high. On the streets of the U.S. most of the costumed hero’s from the 40’s (the minute men) are now in retirement and their replacements have been outlawed.

After the murder of a supposedly retired superhero, (The Comedian), one of his former partners Rorschach, now turned vigilante, takes it upon himself to start investigating, under the impression that someone is picking off costumed hero’s he starts visiting his former partners to warn them of his suspicions, expressing the notion that “an attack on one is an attack on all of us” in an attempt to encourage them to regroup.

As someone who has for many hours pondered the creation of new superhero’s I know only too well the frustration the creator of Watchmen would have been going through, left with nowhere to go, as all the best ones have been created, this would leave him with only two choices, either the very lame superhero or the outright ridiculous, the creator of Watchmen went with both.

The outright ridiculous comes in the form of Dr. Manhattan, an invincible, matter bending, emotionless blue scientist who spends the entire movie naked, he acts as Americas deterrent from outside threats such as the soviet union, and gained his ridiculousness by accidentally locking himself in an atomic experiment chamber “Doh!”

The lame superhero’s (who don’t actually posses any super powers) consist of, Nite owl, a very unenthusiastic character with some very underwhelming gadgets in his basement, one being a hovering Podmobile, Silk Spectre II, who is an equally unenthusiastic addition, her main claim to fame being she is the daughter of the previous Silk Spectre, Ozymandias, a wealthy shrewd businessman who exploits his previous superhero status, The Comedian, who gets killed off at the beginning but who you see in retrospective scenes, usually behaving in a questionable way, and last but by no means least Rorschach, by far the best of the lame bunch, a vigilante, who acts as judge, jury and executioner to anyone he deems immoral.

The problem with Watchmen is that there’s handfuls of superhero’s but no villains, which means there’s no one for them to fight and therefore not a lot of action, and that in turn makes it a real stretch to look at them as hero’s let alone super, the only redeeming feature is Rorschach, the scenes with him in are engaging not least because he seems to be the only thing moving the storyline along, (a T.V. mini-series for him would work well), as for Dr. Manhattan, an emotionless invincible superhero is appealing to no one, especially one with a blue penis.

If you come to Watchmen in a kind of melancholy mood, you may swing either way, loving or hating it, for fans of the original comic book I’m sure there will be a number of things to appreciate here, but for everyone else it will be two and a half hours of puzzlement.

End Credits:  Director: Zack Snyder  Stars: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Mathew Goode  Length: 155 mins

5 thoughts on “Watchmen (2009)”

  1. I think you missed the point of Watchmen. This isn’t a typical superhero story, more like a step above. There aren’t going to be “bad guys” because, as Watchmen shows, the world is pretty messed up without them. Watchmen questions the typical “super hero” and in the process becomes a commentary about human nature. Sure, Dr. Manhattan is a little ridiculous, but the character is at the center of the film. On one side, you have all of America worshiping him as a shield and a weapon. On the other, you have his deteriorating connection to humanity leading to his ultimate betrayal by those people he was meant to save. What does it say about our past decisions as a species when we let prejudice and greed get in the way? Anyway, I’m no fan, but the way the film was presented sacrifices some theme development and characterization for flair, the result being something that I wouldn’t expect most people to be able to process especially if your expecting to understand everything when you walk into the movie cold. If you know nothing about Watchmen, I suggest looking into the original and then the history of the time period in order to appreciate the full impact of the film, even if it may not be as effective as the graphic novel.

  2. The point of a movie is to entertain, and I reviewed it as such, I agree with you that it’s tried to do something different, but not for any noble or valid reasons, but because all the other stories had been done, it’s scraping the bottom of the superhero barrel. Your point about questioning the typical super hero bewilders me as superhero’s are fictional, and we already know about human nature we don’t need another movie telling us peace is good and war is bad, movies for the most part are supposed to be escapism not some sort of patronising lecture.

    Dr Manhattan wasn’t meant to save anyone, he wasn’t created, he only exists as a result of an accident and then subsequently he is used by America as a deterrent, not as a weapon, and I cannot see much of the prejudice or greed or the flair that you mention, I personally think it doesn’t have enough.

    You imply an audience would need some sort of short course before walking into this movie to understand it, which is absurd, if you need that then it’s better to not make the movie in the first place, Star Wars for example started at episode 4 and that seemed to do alright, but I did mention that fans of the original comic book would appreciate it more, but it’s the directors job to make the story work, although in this case the story was no good to begin with.

  3. The graphic novel is hailed as being one of the best graphic novels ever written by many!! The only reason why it doesn’t make sense to some people is because they are too closed minded to realize the complexity and the “fun” behind the novel and the story. Alan Moore, while I don’t have the most respect for his attitude, is one of the greatest graphic novelist ever. Zach Snyder being a fan of the graphic novel and loving the graphic novel took up the tough task of making a screen adaptation of one of the most complex novels to be written. A task that many other directors attempted to do but failed. A task that fans of the graphic novel have been waiting for. The graphic novel is very complex and would take a much longer runtime than what was used in the film. Making the film a little bit harder for the non-readers to understand. While I understand why those movie goers would be upset, it is their fault for either not taking the time to read the novel or for not pursuing it after watching the film to get a better understanding of what the film is truly about. Only then could you fully respect the work that Zach Snyder did with the film.

  4. Well said. This isn’t a superhero movie (as Snyder himself claims) so I am tired of people comparing it as such and walking away disappointed. You are 100% correct about the complexity of the novel being translated to the screen. Simplifying the story so it would be easier to digest is no way to make an adaptation, and should never be done to make the movie more palatable in order to get a larger audience and thus more money. It would be betraying the work and the ideas behind it. It almost like thinking is becoming a chore in our society, people avoid it at all costs. I’m glad this movie did not surrender to that current trend.

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