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On The Watchmen

2009-03-27

Category: movies

"The Watchmen" has been a popular graphic novel/comic book thing for quite some time. Now there's a movie of it. At the insistence of several coworkers, I went to see the film. Well, I didn't really have much else to do this afternoon anyway. I will have to tease then when I go back to work. (Here's a link to the official website, but don't bother. It's not useful, it starts running video and audio automatically, and tries to widen your browser window without permission.)

A quick synopsis of the storyline is that life sucks and masked heroes with various strengths have to save the world. There's nothing really wrong with that idea. Though there are plenty of interesting characters and scenes, they don't really pull together well enough to make the story happen. As a result, the movie seems to drag on a while. Add the fact that the movie is a couple of hours long and it makes for a long watching. Make sure to stop by the restroom before the movie starts.

One of the big problems is that it tries to tackle far too much. In a typical superhero movie, time is spent rehashing the life events that lead to the hero becoming a hero. In this movie, there is a group of heroes and each one's story takes time away from the overall plot. What's more, there is insufficient time to get the depth needed for you to really care about the characters. It's too bad because some of the characters probably would be interesting.

The same thing applies in the case of the primary bad guy. It becomes obvious that he is the bad guy early on in the flick. Unfortunately, they never develop the whys and wherefores of his villainy. He just happens to do the stuff that makes everything else happen. When the movie ends, you don't really care about the villain.

There is plenty of the gratuitous sex and nudity. They overplay the full-frontal nudity of the character Mr. Manhattan. Malin Ackerman, who plays Laurie Jupiter, spends plenty of time unclothed and engaged in carnal activities, most of which involve the camera lingering way too long on Patrick Wilson's backside. I would have been interested to hear the opinions of these scenes from the two women sitting behind me. One looked to be in her early teens. The one she called "grandma" looked to be nearly eighty. What could be more fun than going to an ?R' rated movie with grandma?

The imagery is good in most parts. The poster said the director, Zach Snyder, directed "300" too. I didn't care for "300". The world is always shown in a gloom. That fits the attempted story. The scenery is also appropriate for the movie. It may have been a little gloomier if there were a few un-gloomy moments to establish contrast.

Dialog is another place where the movie did well, particularly in the character of Rorschach. You have to have good dialog if your character is a sociopathic good guy. Sometimes the words get a little over dramatic and some of the characters are cardboard. Overall, the dialog is entertaining.

In general, the movie has the same problem that George Lucas' The Phantom Menace had. Rather than picking one primary good guy and bad guy, he spread the story out to too many and couldn't get the depth needed for a good movie. Same thing here; if they had picked a primary in the team and followed that character around, things would have been better.

I've heard that the movie is fairly true to the graphic novel, though I don't know that for sure. If you are a fan of the Watchmen characters and stories, you may enjoy the movie quite a bit. If you aren't necessarily a fan, it may be worth renting someday, when it's no longer a new release, but I can't recommend it any more than that. I came away fairly bored.


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