Monday, March 16, 2009

New Movie Review By James Myers, The Entertainment Critic: Watchmen

Movie Review:  Watchmen


The Entertainment Critic Movie Review

In Theatres Now Review

Opened March 3, 2009

By James Myers


Rating: 7 of 10


Director:  Zack Snyder


Writers (WGA): David Hayter (screenplay) and Alex Tse (screenplay), Dave Gibbons             (graphic novel illustrator), Alan Moore (graphic novel) uncredited


Release Date: 6 March 2009 (USA)


Genre: Action | Fantasy | Sci-Fi | Thriller


Malin Akerman ...        Laurie Jupiter / Silk Spectre II


Billy Crudup     ...        Dr. Manhattan / Jon Osterman


Matthew Goode           ...        Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias


Jackie Earle Haley        ...        Walter Kovacs / Rorschach


Jeffrey Dean Morgan    ...        Edward Blake / The Comedian


Patrick Wilson  ...        Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl II


Carla Gugino    ...        Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre


Matt Frewer     ...        Edgar Jacobi / Moloch the Mystic


Stephen McHattie         ...        Hollis Mason / Nite Owl


Laura Mennell  ...        Janey Slater


Rob LaBelle     ...        Wally Weaver


Gary Houston   ...        John McLaughlin


James M. Connor         ...        Pat Buchanan (as James Michael Connor)


Mary Ann Burger         ...        Eleanor Clift


John Shaw        ...        Doug Roth


Robert Wisden ...        Richard Nixon


Jerry Wasserman          ...        Detective Fine


Don Thompson ...        Detective Gallagher


Frank Novak    ...        Henry Kissinger


Sean Allan        ...        Norad General #1


Ron Fassler      ...        Ted Koppel


Stephanie Belding         ...        Janet Black


Chris Burns      ...        Dumb Thug



Produced by

Wesley Coller   ....       Co-producer

Herb Gains       ....       Executive producer

Lawrence Gordon        Producer

Lloyd Levin      ....       Producer

Deborah Snyder           Producer

Thomas Tull      ....       Executive producer


            Watchmen has been one of the more anticipated films of the early spring season.  There is always a tension in creating a film like this one, where the subject matter and storyline is well-know to the followers of the comic/graphic novels and engaging the members of the public that are not familiar with the comics and not cult followers.  This film succeeds on both levels; true to the original graphic novels of writer Alan Moore, artist, Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins, yet intriguing and engaging to those of us not as familiar with the story.  In this story of a parallel universe still stuck in the Nixon Administration, we are immediately drawn into this tale of retired and outlawed superheroes/vigilantes when one of the superheroes is murdered in the opening scene.  You have no pulse if you are not immediately drawn into the story of the personal development and struggles of the protagonists as an investigation into the murder of a government sponsored superhero pulls them out of retirement and eventually leads them to confront a plot by one of their own to stave off nuclear war by killing millions of people.  The secondary plotline is of course to find the killer of the fallen hero, The Comedian, who had plenty of potential enemies when he has was alive, who would want him dead.


            By 1985, only one Watchman, a masked vigilante named Rorschach, (Jackie Earle Haley) remains active. Investigating the murder of government agent Edward Blake (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Rorschach discovers him to be a fellow Watchman known as The Comedian and concludes that someone is trying to eliminate masked heroes. He goes off to warn his retired comrades: the emotionally detached Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), his lover Laurie Jupiter (Malin Akerman), the second Silk Spectre, Dan Dreiberg (Stephen McHattie), the second Nite Owl, and Adrian Veidt (Matthew Goode) Ozymandias, but makes little progress.


After Blake's funeral, Dr. Manhattan is accused of causing cancer in his former friends and colleagues from before the accident that turned him into the being he is now. Manhattan exiles himself to Mars, giving the Soviet Union the confidence to invade Afghanistan in his absence. Later, Rorschach's conspiracy theory appears to be justified when Adrian, who had long since made his identity as Ozymandias public before retiring, narrowly avoids an assassination attempt, and Rorschach himself is framed for murder.

Meanwhile, Laurie falls in love with Dan, having previously broken up with Manhattan, and the two former heroes decide to come out of retirement as they grow closer to one another. After breaking Rorschach out of prison alongside Nite Owl, Silk Spectre is confronted by Manhattan, who takes her to Mars and explains he is no longer interested in humanity, denying her request to intervene. Probing her memories, they both discover that The Comedian is her father. His interest in humanity renewed, Manhattan returns to Earth with Silk Spectre.


Investigating further into the conspiracy, Rorschach and Nite Owl discover that Adrian may be behind everything. Rorschach records his suspicions in his journal, which recounts the events of the story thus far from his perspective, and posts it to a newspaper office. Rorschach and Nite Owl confront Adrian, presumably now Ozymandias once again, in his Antarctic retreat. Ozymandias confirms that he is the mastermind behind The Comedian's murder, Manhattan's exile, and the framing of Rorschach; he also staged his own assassination attempt to place himself above suspicion. He explains that his plan is to unify the United States and Soviet Union and prevent nuclear war by destroying the world's main cities with exploding energy reactors he had Dr. Manhattan create for him under the pretense of providing free energy for the world. Rorschach and Nite Owl attempt to stop him, only to find his plan has already been enacted; the energy signatures are recognized as Dr. Manhattan’s and the two opposing sides of the Cold War unite to combat their “common enemy.”


Silk Spectre and Manhattan arrive at the ruins of New York City and realize Ozymandias plan. They arrive to confront him, only to agree that, with the cessation of hostilities around the world, this conspiracy is best left unrevealed to the public. Rorschach, however, is unwilling to cooperate, and allows himself to be vaporized by Manhattan as a means of stopping him from revealing the truth. Manhattan shares a final kiss with Silk Spectre and departs for another galaxy.


With the end of the Cold War and the transformation of humanity into a united front, Laurie and Dan return to the destroyed New York City, which is being rebuilt, and begin life anew together. Meanwhile, a newspaper editor in New York complains about how there is nothing worthwhile to print, and has a young employee look for something in a collection of crank letters in which he finds Rorschach's journal.

            This is a heavy, urban, graphic film, with earth shaking violence, cool special effects, and a little gratuitous sex thrown in for extra fun.  I like the film as a viewer, because it was done in such a compelling manner as to draw you into the personal lives of these remarkable beings.  The character development made the film worth watching, and the plot was a shocker, particularly after the assassination attempt.  The reoccurring theme of ‘who watches the watchmen’ was startling in light of the fact that much like real life politics, the people who are supposed to watch out for our survival may also become the authors of our destruction.  The drop of blood on the smiley face reinforces the uneasiness of the ‘who watches those in power’ theme that permeates this film, making it a contemporary parable for our modern times.  Costuming was well done in this film as well.  By updating and modernizing the original masks, the film takes on a contemporary point of view that makes it more realistic and acceptable.  The music in the film, Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin'", which is played over the opening montage; Jimi Hendrix's cover of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower"; Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence"; the German version of Nena's "99 Luftballons"; a musak version of Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule The World"; and Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" added to the alternative universe/contemporary for 1980’s feel of the picture.  This was a great superhero picture, not as jolting as ‘The Dark Knight’ or quite as engaging as the first ‘Spiderman,’ but this film was more an exploration into each characters motivation, background, and psychology than other flicks of this genre had attempted before.  This one is a striking, free for all, fun ride and thriller that jarred the sensibilities to thought and comparison with the universe of political philosophy we currently find ourselves engaged in.  Worth the money, go see Watchmen.  It is a film that will thrill you and give you more to think about then the liberals vs. the conservatives.



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