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Watchmen (2009)

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Score: 8/10

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 43 min.

Release Date: March 6th, 2009 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Zack Snyder Actors: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino

“W

atchmen’s” only downfall may be that it is too complex and brilliant a story to appeal to a general public expecting a simple action-filled superhero movie. More an intricate conspiracy thriller than a crime-fighting actioner, “Watchmen” plays out around an earth-shattering mystery. But the process of uncovering the truth retains the stimulating adventure, flashy visuals, and mesmerizing blend of sensationalism and the morbid examination of human nature, expected from a new generation of comic book movies. It’s a no-holds-barred exploration into infinite power and its subsequent corruption, draped in the visceral glory of the most imaginative minds.

The film is set in an alternate 1985, where masked superheroes once ruled the night, the United States won the Vietnam War, and Richard Nixon continues his Presidency. The “Doomsday” clock, predicting total nuclear destruction, remains set at 5 minutes to midnight. The twisted plot unfolds through the eyes of washed-up former superhero Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), a masked vigilante whose paranoid psychosis is surpassed only by his uncompromising quest for justice.  When “The Comedian” (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a “Watchman” superhero with sadistic methods of retribution is mysteriously murdered, Rorschach scours the underbelly of the city for clues to his comrade’s untimely demise.  Uncovering a devastating conspiracy to kill all remaining superheroes, he must enlist the aid of several former colleagues, including Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman), to wage a suicidal war against a criminal mastermind of nearly limitless power.

Presented in a film noir narration by Rorschach, “Watchmen” is nothing less than a superhero movie fused with action, drama, romance, science-fiction, fantasy, crime, and mystery. To call it simply a comic book movie wouldn’t do it justice; in fact, with its lack of actual paranormal powers, it’s really not a superhero movie at all. It intricately blends politics, morals, and societal complexities into an unrelenting thinking-man’s fantasy epic that intelligently challenges the ideas of vigilantism, nuclear war, and the abuse of power. But will the superhero crowd, not entirely familiar with “Watchmen” lore, embrace a film so esoterically heavy and appropriately lengthy?

With so many plots, red herrings, and backstories to tell, “Watchmen” clocks in at nearly three hours long – and still can’t cover everything. Most impressive are the amazing visuals and unique imagery brought to life from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s graphic novel, coupled with sex, action, and violence never before seen in a comic book adaptation. There’s no shortage of nudity or graphic bloodshed as the fate of the world rests on the shoulders of psychopaths, glorified gang members with a penchant for dressing up and finishing what the law can’t, and a nuclear accident victim gone rogue. To incorrectly claim that “Watchmen” is a mere comic book movie would be as descriptively helpful as (to borrow a quote from Dr. Manhattan) “a photograph of oxygen to a drowning man.”

– The Massie Twins

 



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