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Watchmen Review

watchmen 5b2First, I should say that the act of condensing the (god, I feel stupid using this word) epic comic series into a three-hour movie must have been a daunting one.  Nevertheless, Zack Snyder managed it admirably.  The action scenes are masterfully done.  The acting, with a few exceptions, was great.  The attention to detail helped bring the world to life.


The movie hits all the key points of the comic.  In fact, it treats the source material with extreme reverence.  Now many, if not all, of the reviews that I have seen and heard have treated this as a negative thing.  Let me be clear, they are not wrong.  For the uninitiated, this rigidity must seem odd.  For one thing, the comic was set in a fictional 1985.  This is understandable, as it was published in an actual 1986.  The movie might have attempted to create an alternate 2009, in order to make it more accessible.  There is a real danger in making a movie set more than twenty years ago that is further influenced by events another decade earlier.  For many people, especially younger viewers, the references and jokes might be lost.  Furthermore, the film cut many of the scenes that help set the stage for much of the later action.  This is understandable, as the prospect of an eighteen hour Watchmen might have been a bit intimidating.  



Now, the slavish devotion to a twenty-four-year-old comic book series was not altogether a bad thing.  For one thing, the source material is frequently praised as the best comic series ever.  Zach Snyder did an admirable job of translating the intricate plot and unique setting to the screen.  There is an illustrated, comic book palate to the film, reminiscent of Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy, without indulging in camp.  Some of the costumes, especially those of the earlier Watchmen, look silly and cartoonish.  From a fan’s perspective, this is not a bad thing, as it demonstrates loyalty to the comic.  


By no means did the movie faithfully recreate every scene and moment from the comic series.  Much of the backstory, such as the Keene Act and the original masked heroes plot was removed or drastically condensed.  The comic within a comic, Tales of the Black Freighter, was completely dropped, while the ultimate plan of the “villain” was dramatically rewritten.  This might seem like blasphemy to the faithful, but these changes generally are benign.  The fight sequences are all extended and quite good.  One or two of the fights are the best I’ve seen in a comic book movie.  


The acting was generally great.  The real star of the show was Jacky Earl Haley, as Rorschach.  Patrick Wilson’s Nite Owl and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Comedian are both fantastic roles.  The only real acting weak spot for me was the lip-synching for Dr. Manhattan.  Speaking of Dr. Manhattan, there is a lot of blue penis in the movie.  For those who have never read the comic, Dr. Manhattan is a glowing, blue, naked superhero, and he is frequently naked.  Snyder has decided not to use the Austin Powers conveniently obscured nudity trick.  This leaves the audience with more frontal male nudity than any other R-rated film of which I am aware.  The overly prudish should steer clear, but this is not a film about glowing blue penises, and it would be a disservice to treat it as if it were.


As the comic satirized the genre of superhero comics, the movie tries to satirize superhero movies.  There are visual references to Batman and Robin, the low-point of the genre.  The movie does not succeed to the same degree that the book does.  I would recommend this movie without reservation to everybody who read and enjoyed the book.  I would also recommend it to anyone with an interest in comic-book movies.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and plan to see it again soon.  Who watches Watchmen?  I do, and so should you.

Ben Rhodes, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor


Favorite Book:  Cryptonomicon Favorite MovieYoung Frankenstein Favorite Absolutely Everything:  Monty Python


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