I went into Watchmen knowing very little about it. What I did know from the trailers was it ran the risk of turning out very camp and cheesy. As much as Watchmen the graphic novel is one of the most celebrated Graphic Novels of all time, I’m going to assume that I’m not alone in never having read it, or had much interest in it prior to seeing the movie, and as such, will begin with a brief plot overview.
Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore, Watchmen is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the ‘Doomsday Clock’ is permanently set at five minutes to midnight.
When Superhero, The Comedian is murdered, Superhero Rorschach is determined to find out who was behind his demise and along the way, tries to reconnect with his former crime-fighting Superhero group, now retired. Unlike the mighty X-Men, only one of the Watchmen, Dr Manhattan, really has superpowers, everyone else just has cool costumes and knows kung fu like Neo.
Their mission is to watch over humanity… but who is watching the Watchmen?
So I’m not a geeked out Watchmen fan and I’ve never read the Graphic Novel, so my review is obviously going to be about the movie as a standalone piece of entertainment. I can say that it feels like it must stick rather close to its source materiel because at times it doesn’t flow like a traditional movie. On the flip side however, it is accessible to anyone not familiar with the original work and immersion into and acceptance of this alternative reality world is easy for the viewer to accomplish.
With the movie clocking in at just under 3 hours, Watchmen has the longest opening scenes of any movie I can remember, but one that beautifully sets up the them and plot of the movie. The use of music is worth a mention here, as in the opening scenes and throughout the entire movie, the choice of songs is absolutely brilliant in bringing humour into the bleak and violent movie, without adversely affecting the pacing or plot. The song selection will have you giggling from time to time.
As far as the violence goes, it does get incredibly graphic from time to time, but fortunately is not the focus of the movie. Rather the focus is in the characters this rag tag bunch of Superheroes, with the clichéd troubled history, but rather than the clichéd perfect Superheros, these are mere mortals that struggle and make mistakes and go off the rails.
There seems to be a fair bit of social commentary and throughout the movie you’ll find that God is often thought to either not exist or not care, but then in a wonderful scene where Dr Manhattan equates the likely hood of miracles happening to oxygen turning into gold before turning his argument around to say that the creation of human life is a miracle in itself opens up the dark overtones of the plot and offers up a ray of hope that permeates the latter parts of the movie.
All in all, Watchmen is definitely worth the price of admission. It is a movie that you have to see on the big screen, and one that will have you wanting to see it more than once. It does contain graphic violence and sex scenes that will put some off, but has a worthy story to tell and does so in a way that keeps you entertains for close to three hours, which in itself is no small feat.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read
Rating: R16 – contains violence, offensive language & sex scenes.
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Akerman, Carla Gugino, Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley
Director: Zack Snyder.
Genre: Superhero, Science Fiction, Adaptation, Action
Duration: 2hrs 43mins.