Watchmen

2009-03-10 09:53
 
Watchmen

What it's about:

Someone is killing superheroes. As the sociopathic vigilante Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) sets out to discover why, the USA’s most powerful weapon, a superhero called Dr Manhattan (Billy Crudup) disappears, bringing the world to the brink of a nuclear war between East and West.


What we thought of it:

The original Watchmen is what you would call a literary comic. Time would agree; they listed it as one of the 100 greatest novels of all-time, along with The Great Gatsby and Lord of the Flies. But we all know how Hollywood works, don’t we? Take something smart, turn it into a romantic comedy with gags and blushes and presto, $200m at the box office. Right?

You should know that Watchmen’s creator, full-time weirdo Alan Moore, has disowned this film, dismissing its interpretation of his untouchable original. You should also know he was going to pan it no matter who adapted his story and how. Alan Moore is as much of an elitist old fart as he is a genius.

Watchmen, the film, is both entertaining and smart. You might not notice at first, as the cut-and-paste apocalyptic conspiracy scenario will remind you of every ‘comic book’ movie ever made. But its characters, while clearly born out of fantasy, are convincingly humane (or in Dr Manhattan’s case, convincingly inhuman). They seem to realise, some of them, the ridiculousness of donning tight-fitting hero gear to catch baddies in the night. The Comedian, who is murdered in the beginning of the film but appears in several flashbacks, knows as well as anyone that caped crusaders are a joke, and entrusting them with the safety and security of the world? That’s the biggest laugh of all.

Nothing says “implausible” like Ben Affleck trying to save the world. Which is why the lack of star power in Watchmen is so refreshing. Instead of the usual A-list suspects, we get the dead guy from Grey’s Anatomy (Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian), Patrick Wilson from Hard Candy (as Nite Owl II) and a host of second-tier under-achievers, all of their performances interesting, all of them believable. Jackie Earle Haley’s is perhaps the most memorable as Rorschach, a brooding, difficult personality who has dedicated his existence to destroying the lives of wrong-doers. Karma may be a bitch, but it’s nothing compared to a visit from Rorschach.

You might say Watchmen’s intellectual ambitions fly out the window once the Silk Spectre II (in thigh high boots) makes love to a fellow ‘supe’ inside a flame-throwing airship. But do they really? Throughout, Watchmen floats somewhere between being a superhero movie, and being a movie about superheroes. Its cheesiest Hollywood moments seem like a set-up, a knowing wink to our expectations of blockbuster movies.

Like your classic superhero, Watchmen will go ‘whoosh!’ over the heads of many viewers, who may have expected a more action-oriented experience. But if you enjoy movies about good versus evil, surely it’s worth asking "what is 'good'?" In so doing, Watchmen is perhaps one of the first truly worthwhile films in the post-Oscars pack.




Superheroes. Caped crusaders. Vigilantes? Watchmen questions whether truth, justice and the American Way are really worth fighting for.

Dustin jacobs 2009/03/08 6:08 PM
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What a bad movie. I wanted to walk out after 1hr and 43 mins of going no-where. Its as boring as matrix 3, and as uninteresting as POC 3. Good thing i only paid 12 bucks. Enjoy... NOT!
Pinvictor 2009/03/09 8:24 AM
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A very faithful adaptation of the comic and an awesome movie. This is not gonna please anyone looking for the regular superhero crap though, as it is long, complicated, and entirely story based. If you are scared of films that can be described as "thought provoking", then best avoid this one.
Nikki 2009/03/09 9:35 AM
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It is an EXCELLENT movie! I thoroughly enjoyed it. A must see for those who enjoy the big blockbuster Superhero flicks but also enjoy a movie with a brilliant story line. Really thought provoking & makes you wonder. You have to concentrate however & catch underlying inuendos. Long but in the end well worth the money! Go see it! How old are you Dustin?
Gerard Walsh 2009/03/09 10:16 AM
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A very good movie, best / most faithful adaptaiton of a graphich novel I have ever seen. Length is fully justified given the wealth of source material. To dustin: Read the source, then re-watch - you may change your mind.
Thuto Moloi 2009/03/09 10:25 AM
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This was the worst movie I have seen since SinCity, It's a bad movie, it drags for more than an hour, it was just a torture to watch it. Oh, and i did walk out.
Gurshwyn Dixon 2009/03/09 10:34 AM
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I never read the original graphic novel so did not know the context of the movie. Thoroughly gobsmacked. The film is thought provoking and surprising. What is good in a world filled with evil? or is there just varying degrees of evil in a world devoid of good?
Oracle 2009/03/09 11:00 AM
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Not worth watching, wait for the dvd. and Pinvictor, you are aware that this movie is so bad that you try to defend it. "This is not gonna please anyone looking for the regular superhero crap though, as it is long, complicated, and entirely story based. If you are scared of films that can be described as "thought provoking", then best avoid this one." hahaha.. Thought provoking, there is no thought provoking in this movie, it is stupid and crap!!
Nigel 2009/03/09 12:09 PM
Okay, just for you guys out there that thought Sin City was crap, as was 300, as was V for Vendetta, I would like you to say this.. "I don't know movies, and don't know graphic novels". This is what you are spewing forth. Watchmen was the epitome of movies, and Zach Snyder did me proud by bringing this alternate 1985 to our screens. Even though Alan Moore himself didn't want any part of this movie, I will say.. Big ups to Zach Snyder. You are a visionary when it comes to these. And you call them vigilantes? I call them people making a difference. I didn't even notice that 3 hours had passed, and I didn't want the movie to end.
Olwen 2009/03/09 1:08 PM
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Am I not going to get a thank you for proofreading and correcting this article? Damn. I cant get no love anywhere.
Editor 2009/03/09 1:11 PM
Thanks for the heads up Olwen.
Mark 2009/03/09 1:50 PM
Dustin, Thuto & Oracle I hear there is another Steven Segal movie coming out soon that would more suite your IQ and taste.
Herman le Roux 2009/03/09 3:28 PM
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Okay...I study Art and have to take visual communication as a subject, which kind of makes you more critical of movies as you learn to analyze while you watch...Watchmen will one dan in the near future probably be one of the movie that peolpe analyse, because of all t he brilliant underlying structures and meanings in the film. It will however never be seen as a great film because it isnt. The movie drags on for hours, but to no higher purpose or justification. The message that the movie gives is brilliant but it was done very unsuccessfully! Not a bad movie...but not something I would likely watch over and over agian without at some stage wanting to kill myself because of the pointlessness. Chiao
Justin 2009/03/09 3:50 PM
What utter garbage!!! Why do I have to read a "graphic novel" before watching any movie?? It does not make financial sense to create a totally incoherent pile of garbage. So many people walked out on the movie, I included! I did not have to read Lord of the Rings to get the gist of it, I did not have to read Batman, Hellboy etc. to understand it?
sko11ie 2009/03/09 3:54 PM
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South African critics are too easy to please; the international press hasn't been too kind to it, and I'm going to wait to rent it. Maybe it's so bad it warrants a download?
Critic 2009/03/09 4:52 PM
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For Justin, you don't need to read the comic before watching the movie...anyone with half a brain can follow the story. What makes it a worthwile watch is not the battle between good and evil, but our perceptions and definitions of the two concepts. Maybe go and watch the movie again with an open mind. The time flew by in this provocative and off-kilter film.
John 2009/03/09 5:34 PM
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The reason this film may never be successful is because it doesn't appeal to the majority of people who read comics for the pretty pictures and basic storyline of a good character fighting the evil villian. In this case there are neither because the premise off this story and the original story is that good and evil are inside all of us and who's to say what is good and what is evil given the nature of the human mind and the ease with which we are able to inflict utter horror on one another and every living thing on earth. Is humanity really that wonderful that it should be saved? When you realise the philosophical questions that permeate the storyline and the fact that only so called "superheroes" can portray this, given their special position is society where killing and maiming is accepted as a normal means to an end, a different movie will unfold before you. "The Dark Night" tried to do it but sadly missed the mark. If you are expecting another "Spiderman", "Fantastic Four" or "X-Men", you will be disappointed. This movie has both the eye candy and intelligent storyline that puts it in another catagory altogether.
angel swemmer 2009/03/10 7:39 AM
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The only thing that worried me about the movie- was the NPU16 age restriction. I think it should be at least 18, and the theatres must be more mindful about who is allowed into the movies that are age restricted.
Mojojo 2009/03/10 7:52 AM
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The wife and I watched this movie on Friday night.I know a little bit about comicss, but never read The Watchmen. The lady knows nothing about comics at all. We both enjoyed it, so much so, that she already can't wait for the DVD.Agreed, its not something worth watching over and over again,but if I had to watch something once,I would chose this over most rom coms, or overly sentimental stuff like Titanic.
OmegaFenix 2009/03/10 8:22 AM
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To all of you who didn’t “like” the movie, that’s ok. I must have been aim at people who don’t pick the movies they see at random. Watchmen was a near, and note I say near, perfect adaptation of the novel. No novel, whether graphic or traditional literature, will ever translate perfectly into film, I just isn’t possible. There are too many little details, emotions and thoughts to translate into visual media. What Zack Snyder did in Watchmen was brilliant. It captured the alternate 1985 perfectly and the underlying theme and messages of the novel was, for the most part, carried over nearly perfect. At those of you who said Sin City was crap, what movie where you watching? Just because you don’t understand the movie and it’s context doesn’t make it a bad movie. I would advise anybody who love the Dark Knight to go see Watchmen but go in with an open mind because it isn’t like every other comic book movie out there. A Wait for DVD? Nah, the eye candy and sound is great in the cinema and though I’ll definitely get it, it will be to catch everything I missed in the cinema.
Renier 2009/03/10 8:29 AM
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I think the problem is that people are going to watch this movie thinking its another Batman, Hellboy, Fantastic Four etc type of movie. Go watch it knowing it is a movie about superheroes and the conflicts that beset them, and you will come away having enjoyed it. Superbly dark and thought provoking!
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