Monday, March 9, 2009

Movie: Watchmen

I saw the movie Watchmen yesterday. I hadn't planned on seeing it at all, let alone on its opening weekend. I knew next to nothing about the story or the history of the project, except that it was originally a celebrated graphic novel (series of novels?) by Alan Moore. I knew the movie was directed by the guy who directed 300 (Zach Snyder), and I knew that the cast was mostly unknown or little-known actors.

The opportunity presented itself to see the movie, so I took it. It took me a while to form my opinion on what I had just seen. I wasn't sure coming out of it if I had even liked it at all. I wasn't blown away thinking "That was awesome!!!" upon leaving the theater. I think I may have been a bit shell-shocked. It was violent. And not just comic-book-movie-action-boom sort of violence, either. It was exaggerated violence, the worst of it shown in slow-motion. There was a lot of slow-motion. Maybe the movie wouldn't have been 3 hours long if it hadn't had so much slow-motion. I didn't like it, and I think that really clouded my opinion of the movie as a whole.

Violence aside, I think the story was fantastic. The Watchmen are heroes, but they aren't your typical caped crusaders. When the story begins, the group has disbanded. Some of them have revealed their secret identities. And one of them is murdered. You soon learn that these supposed heroes have changed the course of history serving the what they feel is the greater good. But at what cost? You begin to question whether or not they're really heroes. They want to save the world, but they're willing to do whatever it takes to get there. When the threat of nuclear war looms over the world, they find that they need to rely on the one of them with bona-fide super-powers to defend America from the Russians. That's Dr. Manhattan.

I'm not going to get into the plot now - I don't want to spoil anything. The characters are fascinating. I'm used to super heroes that can do no wrong, but these guys have questionable morals. They're not all likable, and that's part of what makes them so interesting. Rorschach is particularly interesting. He acts on his own moral compass, but it's not aligned with everyone else's - his political views are far skewed to one side, and while they may not be the same as mine (opposite, in fact), they do help to understand the character.

I also find Dr. Manhattan to be very interesting. Played by Billy Crudup, the character is almost child-like. He was once human, but due to some sort of accident, he's now practically a god. And he's blue. And naked, most of the time (yes, this movie does contain full-frontal male nudity). He can be many places at once, can be any size he wants, and seems to exist in a different plane than regular people. He doesn't really show emotions, but it's clear that he has them. Crudup pulls this off very well.

In conclusion, I liked the story, I liked the characters, but I didn't like the overdone violence. That part was just too much. But I also liked the music - they did a great job incorporating rock music from the 70s and 80s to really give you a feel for the setting, as the movie does take place in 1985. The special effects are good (if a bit exaggerated and difficult to watch in the violent parts), so I do think it's worth watching on the big screen. Just be prepared - it is 3 hours long.

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