Watchmen Review

Watchmen (2009) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: David Hayter (screenplay),  Alex Tse (screenplay)
Stars: Jackie Earle Haley,  Patrick Wilson,  Carla Gugino

Coming in at just under 3 hours “Watchmen” in my opinion is a must view for anyone who hasn’t watched it. Before 2009 I only knew Director Zack Snyder for his work on “Dawn of the Dead (2004)” and “300 (2006)” In fact, “DOTD” is still one of my favourite horror movies from that time and I felt the Direction of that movie was a stand out in its style and look.

Giving Zack Snyder the chance to direct a Gritty and Dark Superhero movie like Watchmen is a match made in heaven and a sound piece of business by the studio in hiring him.

The movie begins in an alternate 1985 where former superheroes exist and are well known to the public. But when the murder of a former colleague “The Comedian” played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan sends active masked vigilante “Rorschach” into his own sprawling investigation, uncovering something that could completely change the course of history as we know it.

As the story unfolds and concerned former masked heroes begin to surface to warn their fellow superheroes they begin to realise their past hasn’t left them and they must uncover the truth behind the death of “The Comedian” and who is responsible for his murder.

“The Comedian” was part of “The Minutemen” who were a collection of heroes fighting crime in the 1960’s and 70’s and the “Watchmen” somewhat took up their mantle when time took its toll on the older generation. “The Comedian” in his later years steered the “Watchmen” before his retirement.

One of the things I enjoyed about all the characters was that they all had flaws or baggage of some sort. Here wasn’t any squeaky clean do-gooders who believed in right and wrong. All the superheroes had grey areas in their past. Even “The Comedian” had some darker moments during the Vietnamese war that are unforgivable and unforgettable.

“Rorschach” for me was the star of the movie masked and unmasked. Jackie Earle Haley portrayal of the masked vigilante was both terrifying and humorous simultaneously. Earle Haley scenes were the most enjoyable and particularly in the prison scenes showed the character a force to be reckoned with and it was confirmed in the prison canteen after a brawl with a fellow inmate “Rorschach” declared that “I’m not stuck in this prison with all of you, you are all stuck in this prison with me”

Patrick Wilson as Dan Dreiberg /  Nite Owl was a great piece of casting for this role and in a particular the introduction scene with Hollis Mason (Stephen McHattie) who was the original “Minutemen’s” Nite Owl you understand that Dreiberg doesn’t miss his old life and is trying to lead an ordinary existance.

Laurie Jupiter also know as Silk Spectre II is portrayed by Malin Akerman and is the connection between all the characters. Her love for Dr. Manhattan is complex and is also heartbreaking as Manhatten is becoming more distant towards relationships and basically human interactions as the character is moving onto more spiritual and intellectual plains since his accident.

Jupiter’s longing for a normal life sees her make a connection with Dreiberg and besides reminiscing over the old days form a bond that appears to be missing from her relationship with Manhatten. Jupiter is also the daughter of former “Minutemen” Sally Jupiter /  Silk Spectre played by Carla Gugino who incidentally is only 7 years older than Akerman, but with the aid of prosthetics and cgi portrays her convincing mother. Akerman to her credit performs with a maturity beyond her years and is key to some of the most pivotal scenes in the movie.

I’ve always been a somewhat fan of Billy Crudup ever since I saw him in “Almost Famous” and more recently in “Rudderless” Crudup as Dr. Manhattan /  Jon Osterman
Is both fascinating and at the same time annoying. This isn’t a criticism on the actors part but the character is soulless in appearance and has an underwhelming tolerance that begins to annoy me until the backstory of the character goes from Osterman to Manhatten and you begin to feel sympathy for him.

Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt /  Ozymandias does a great job but I felt until the last third wasn’t utilised correctly and felt his sparse appearance in the first couple of hours was a wasted opportunity.

Zack Snyder should be applauded for adapting a very complex and Dark toned Graphic Novel onto the big screen as I felt that it’s the best you are going to get for this Novel and unlike “300” may confuse any first time viewers. Snyder’s style is all over this movie and the fighting sequences are perfect and a joy to watch visually. Without spoiling the plot too much one shot that sticks in my mind is the lasting sequence with “The Comedian” before he meets his doom is beautifully shot and is Snyder’s trademark. As well as the visuals, the soundtrack for the movie has some of the most famous and memorable songs written in the 1960’s and 1970’s from “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel to Bob Dylan’s “The Times Are A Changin”

Watchmen is a must watch for anyone who hasn’t watched it yet and although the movie requires the audience member to dedicate 3 hours of their life, I can assure you that you won’t feel those 3 hours have been robbed from you. Give it a watch…man.

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