The Alan Moore-Dave Gibbons classic graphic novel comes to life in Zack Snyder’s visually enhanced, gripping tale of a band of superheroes in an alternate 1985 in New York City, and the obstacles they must endure to possibly save everyone, including themselves.
For the course of decades, costumed superheroes have existed and have been met with warm receptions from everyone alike due to their law-abiding duties to save people. As time goes on, the need for such heroes have hit an all-time low, eventually causing them to disappear. The last of these heroes were known as the Watchmen.
The Watchmen comprised of Silk Spectre II, Nite Owl II, Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, Rorschach, and The Comedian. When The Comedian is murdered by an unknown assailant, the ink-blotz masked Rorschach begins to investigate even though he has become a wanted man.
Silk Spectre, aka Laurie Jupiter, has been living with Dr. Manhattan, aka Jon Osterbach, who has the power to move matter anywhere. Nite Owl has retired and lives life as plain old Dan Dreibach. Dr. Manhattan and the highly intelligent Ozymandias, aka Adrian Veidt, have been working together to prepare a retaliatory weapon in case Russia decides to threaten the U.S. with nuclear war. The relationship between Laurie and Jon begins to fizzle and Laurie soon finds herself attracted to Dan, who has had a thing for Laurie for years. Meanwhile, Rorschach will do anything to find out who killed The Comedian and why, no matter what it takes.
The treatment of a previous Moore-Gibbons collaboration, 2006’s V for Vendetta, resulted in Moore getting frustrated and denouncing the film version, despite the film doing modestly at the box officer. Moore became more adamant when his beloved novel Watchmen was getting the film treatment yet Gibbons was behind it wholeheartedly. Despite Fox nearly stopping the film’s release due to copyright infringement against Warner Brothers, the companies thankfully settled and the film proved to be a hit at the box office and it is clearly seen why it succeeds.
After many directors were attached, the producers found their man in Zack Snyder, the man responsible for bringing the huge hit 300 to life. His influence of bringing a graphic novel to life with its visually enhancing and story-driven theme works well here as it did with 300. The film gets to shift now and again from 1985 to the past, where we see the characters as either children or as they were before undergoing their changes as superheroes.
The cast playing the titular Watchmen make the best of their roles. Malin Åkerman brings sex appeal to the role of Silk Spectre. Patrick Wilson brings a kind of shy-yet-determined foremanner as Nite Owl. Jackie Earle Haley is devilishly gritty as Rorschach, perhaps the best of the bunch. Billy Crudup has the physical attributes of Dr. Manhattan, but his voice somewhat flaws the character’s integrity. Matthew Goode has that Michael Douglas-like Wall Street panache as the intelligent Ozymandias while Jeffrey Dean Morgan hams it up as the real “jerk” of the group, the violently prone and murdered Comedian.
Some of the action is well done as compared to other action films. Fight choreographer Damon Caro makes use of making some of the characters well versed in martial arts (mostly using doubles) and in one of the film’s best fight sequences, new couple Nite Owl and Silk Spectre team up and take on a group of prisoners trying to escape while they try to break the imprisoned and unmasked Rorschach out of jail. A previous sequence shows the un-costumed duo taking out a band of street thugs using their martial arts skills, which almost ranks up there with the prison fight scene.
While some parts were obviously changed from the original 80’s graphic novel, Watchmen is definitely worth seeing as director Zack Snyder brings a unique vision to the film with a very watchable cast, notably former child star Jackie Earle Haley in one of his most grittiest roles to date.
WFG RATING: A
Warner Bros. Pictures and Paramount Pictures presents a Lawrence Gordon Productions film in association with Legendary Entertainment. Director: Zack Snyder. Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, and Deborah Snyder. Writers: David Hayter and Alex Tse; based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Cinematography: Larry Fong. Editing: William Hoy.
Cast: Malin Åkerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Early Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Matt Frewer, Stephen McHattie, Laura Mennell, Rob LaBelle, Gary Houston.