Watchmen, it is the biggest movie so far this year. Watchmen, it has been called un-filmable. Watchmen, it has been in some stage of production for over 10 years. Watchmen sorta sucked.
I just got back from the theater and I feel kind of jilted. I don’t know why this movie didn’t work for me, but I know that it didn’t. The movie wasn’t bad mind you, it just wasn’t as good a story as I thought could have, no should have been told.
I am sure you know the story by now but I will give a quick run-down.
The movie takes place in an alternate 1985 New York in which Richard Nixon has been newly elected to his 3rd term and superheros exist in real daily life. Not Superman or Wolverine mind you but The Silk Spectre and Niteowl. The world is still in the midst of the cold war and is literally on the brink of full on nuclear Armageddon with our good friends the Soviets. Rorschach (Jackie Earl Haley) is the conduit of the story and it is his diary entries that unfurl a large story about a former comrade who is murdered named the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). It is the murder of the Comedian who brings his former crime fighters together and it is Rorschach and his detective work trying to figure out who killed him and why. The film jumps back and forth from present day 1985 to past times in the 1940’s when the first Watchmen group, then called the Minutemen were at their peak I guess you could say.
The movie pairs incredible imagery and special effects with a decent narrative and good direction but the outcome feels shallow somehow. At it’s core Watchmen is a story of redemption. Redemption of the human race to find peace and the heroes to be accepted and to live truly heroic and fulfilling lives. But the movie loses something in transition from comic to film and the story feels kind of conveluted as well with plot points and spoilers that I will not elaborate on but it is the films subtext which I am sure is much stronger in the comics that just doesn’t seem to be fully realized here in the movie version and when I think about how smart the comics are supposed to be and with how the movie turned out I feel a little jipped. I look at the product up on the screen and saw characters who mean so much to so many but to me, a Watchmen virgin it felt downright empty.
Billy Crudup does a good job as the “Blue naked guy” Dr. Manhattan, the only true superman in the bunch. He has the classic science experiment gone wrong back story that transforms him into what is truly a living god who lacks the emotional connection to his friends and to humanity as a whole. His understanding of the quantum science of the universe shows him how infinitesimally small the human race is and because he is no longer human he feels no need to save or help anyone because his humanity is dead. It is his character that has the most meaning in the story and it is his character that has the least amount to do.
In this new world where superhero movies have become good films and no longer just the hollow money grabs they once were it is nice to see Zack Snyder attempt to make a serious film that takes superheroes and makes them human beings who have the same issues and problems as the rest of us. However I can’t say that I thought this movie was as good as other recent blockbusters that I felt were stronger and more entertaining like Iron Man and The Dark Knight but I do respect that a serious and adult movie like this was produced and I look forward to the directors cut which supposedly has 30 additional minutes.