Watchmen: A Review
By Wes J. Pimentel
OK, so I saw it. Watchmen is a movie inspired by a comic book. Actually, it started as a series of comic books that later became, and was published as, a single volume.
A lot of people are asking what the big deal is about this movie, or the comic book on which it is based. My wife doesn't get it. She doesn't even get Batman, though, so I wouldn't exactly consider her views about super-hero movies the norm. Many people are asking what makes this movie different from others.
One thing that makes this particular story very unique is the way the writer inserted the presence of super-heroes into our nation's history, starting as far back as the 40's. This element is very original and it brings you right in, as you have a frame of reference for the story right from the beginning.
Upon seeing the previews of the movie, unless you're a die-hard comic book freak, you immediately notice that you don't recognize any of the characters. But, there is something familiar about all of them. The reason for this is that each character is either a composite of various heroes or a hero archetype. Basically, this was written as a commentary on the genre of comic books, rather than a simple story.
The author's aim at the time of its writing was to offer a very intimate and tangible version of the super-hero. Rather than fitting into the expected black and white, good guy/bad guy roles, these characters are painted with a realism that is almost disturbing. It is the humanity of each that gives the overall story its Herculean success as a narrative. I can see why this story has garnered so much praise. These characters are as real as you and I, only... they wear costumes. And fight crime. And have gadgets way cooler than my iPhone.
Now, many people claim that other than Dr. Manhattan (the blue guy), no other character has super-human abilities. Well, if you've seen the movie, you know there are things that these "people" do that defy physics, physiology, and the limitations of the human body.
Speaking of what they do... The fight scenes. Wow. The fight scenes are wonderful. They are fast and clean and really kick-ass (pun, I know). If you liked the action in 300, you will definitely enjoy this. They were directed by the same guy, Zack Snyder, and you can tell. The fight scenes have that signature momentum that made 300 so cool.
The movie is 2 hours and 45 minutes short. At the end of it I felt like I could have stayed and watched at least another hour of it. The story is so complete and rich, it's simply captivating. The actors do a superb job and really sell it.
There are a couple of interesting historical facts about the evolution of this project from comic book idea to movie. First, the idea. The man who wrote the original comic books, Alan Moore, had this idea and approached DC Comics about using one of their already-existing group of super-heroes for the project. They denied his use of those characters because most of them would not be able to be included in future issues, once the events in the story transpired.
Another interesting thing is how long it has taken for the film to come to fruition. The truth is that they have been trying to make this into a movie since 1986. That's 23 years. The voyage the film adaptation of this story has taken is truly amazing, but I won't go into it here. You can read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchmen. In recent history, 20th Century Fox sat on it for a while, before Warner Bros. took it and ran with it. There was some legal dispute as to who owned the rights to produce it, and Warner Bros. has ended up having to pay Fox a percentage of the take.
The last interesting bit of trivia is the fact that the original writer, Alan Moore, has never wanted to be affiliated with a film version of the story. He has even been reported to have stated that if it ever makes it to film he won't see the movie. He is of the opinion that there are elements to the story that can only be expressed in the comic medium. Too bad, 'cause that movie is hot!
So, that's it. In short, go see it. I've finished up here with a round-up of the main characters and actors.
The Watchmen characters and actors are as follows:
Dr. Manhattan - The blue guy. I think he's made out of radioactive plasma, although research into the actual comic books might offer the exact explanation. An interesting note on this character is that his penis gets more on-screen time than the actor who played Max Headroom. He's played by Billy Crudup. If you don't know who he is, look him up. He's done some work. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001082/
Silk Spectre - The chick. Hot. She has "no super-powers," but she's an incredible fighter and she has a supernaturally appealing physique. She is played by Malin Akerman. Although not a household name as of yet, she has also done some work. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0015196/
Ozymandias (The Smartest Man in the World) - The pretty blonde boy. I guess this guy's abilities lie in his use of his entire brain. This not only gives him unsurpassed intellect, but apparently makes him fast enough to catch a bullet. No super-power? Anyway, the guy's name is Matthew Goode. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0328828/
Rorschach - For those of us with a mental health background, this guy is freakin' awesome! What a cool concept. This is the guy with the ever-changing ink-blot mask. Now, without super-powers, how do you keep the ink-blot on the front of your face changing? My brother proposed that his mask might be made out of that "Hypercolor" stuff, like those t-shirts that highlight your armpit sweat. I guess. But, not really. Anyway, he, like the rest of the heroes, is a ridiculously good fighter, endowed with incredible speed, strength, and agility. He is played, quite well, by Jackie Earl Haley. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0355097/
The Comedian - This is the guy smoking a cigar in every preview. He is the coolest, assholiest super-hero ever. He is very similar to the Punisher. If I were a super-hero I would be a lot like this guy, except for one really major difference, which I will not spoil. He is a veteran and a die-hard patriot, who is disillusioned with the state of our country. He is played expertly by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0604747/
Nite Owl - This is the guy with the most super-heroest costume. He's the one who looks a lot like Batman. And his namesake is a nocturnal bird of prey. And he fights with a bunch of gadgets based on that animal. And... I think you get the point. He is the sort of straight-man of the bunch. I would guess that his political views are very conservative. He is played by Patrick Wilson. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0933940/