Watchmen


Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by:David Hayter, Alex Tse
Starring: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino
Released: March 5, 2009
Grade: B

There’s no doubting that Watchmen will attract a cult-like following when released in cinemas. It started its life in 1986 when first published as a 12 book comic series. It was later released in its entirety as a graphic novel. At the preview screening I attended, you could sense the anticipation from the young audience. They’d been waiting for this for a long time.

The story is set in 1985 in a fictitious world where Richard Nixon is still President of the United States. There is much tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and many people believe that a nuclear war is imminent. The "Doomsday Clock" has been set at 5 minutes to midnight.

The person thought to be able to save the day is a superhero named Dr. Manhattan (Crudup). He has incredible strength and also the ability to transport himself anywhere at any time. He developed these powers after a botched science experiment when he was younger.

There are a few other superheros looking to play their part in saving the world. Some are open about their identity but others prefer to keep quiet. Not everyone sees them in a positive light. When an ageing superhero known as The Comedian is killed in brutal fashion, Rorschach (Haley) suspects that someone is out to eliminate them. Who is it and what is their motive?

There were two obvious points that stuck me when I saw this film. Firstly, it’s very violent. There are some quite gruesome sequences actually that involve blood, guts and other disgusting matter. It’s rated MA in Australia and is not for the faint of heart. Secondly, it’s long. It clocks in at a whopping 163 minutes which is lengthy considering it’s based on a comic book.

As for my specific thoughts on the film, I certainly wasn’t blown away. The story drags at times and I did wish they could speed it up. I can’t believe I’m saying this but there was almost too much character development and not enough action. The dialogue is a little dreary at times also.

Turning my attention to the positives, I enjoyed the look of the movie and the messages explored within the ending. There’s some food for thought. Jackie Earle Haley gives the best performance as Rorschach. His raspy voice makes him perfect to provide the film’s narration.

I’m interested to see how this film performs at the box-office. Will it only attract those fans of the graphic novel? Or will others be lured in based on the trailer and word-of-mouth? We’ll find out soon enough.