The Watchmen movie is a long awaited film that fans of the comic book series thought they would never see. In fact, in the few months before the film’s release, a legal action between Fox and Warner Bros almost delayed, or even stopped altogether, the theatrical release.
In any case, the movie debuted in the US on Friday, March 6, 2009, with mix reception. Fans who read the graphic novel can vouch for the accuracy of the movie. As hoped for, many of the scenes were lifted from the comic book panels. Of course, some bits of the story were changed for the benefit of movie goers.
The Watchmen was about an alternate America when costumed superheroes existed and were integral to the shaping of the political, social, and economic balance. When the story began, however, superheroes have been declared illegal. Some kept their anonymity and were living “regular” lives (Nite Owl II, Silk Spectre I and Silk Spectre II). Some became contractor for the US government and continued their superhero identity (Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian). Others shed their anonymous identity and embraced the public (Nite Owl I and Ozzymandias). And one of them just continued operating outside the law as a vigilante (Rorschach).
When the Comedian was killed in his apartment, Rorschach suspected an assassination targeting all costumed heroes. His subsequent investigation was the main driving force behind the storyline.
As an adaptation, Watchmen closely followed the main plot of the graphic novel. And the characters were quite faithful. The best two in particular were Rorschach and the Comedian. Rorschach was as psychotic as we imagined him to be and perhaps more violent than his comic book persona. The Comedian was as brash and rough as we had imagined. He was actually an a-hole in the comics and an a-hole in the movie.
Ultimately, the triumph of Watchmen the movie was its ability to reduce the substance of the comic book plot to its core. The comic book series had way too many side stories that may be cool if you can skim them and go over at a later time. Additionally, the comic book had plenty of strong socio-political statements that made sense at the time of original publication. Most of those messages are stale now, in particular, the cold war and nuclear arms race.
The movie was rated R partly for strong violence. Thus, the fight scenes were bone-jarring with some form of body slam being used often. There were hints of Matrix-style slow motion to accent There were martial arts, too. But those played second fiddle to the over-the-top wrestling moves.
The Watchmen also had great special effects and they did not get in the way of the story. Dr. Manhattan looked great. The Mars landscape was pretty much how we’d expect it from the book. And Rorschach’s ink blot mask was fun to watch. In fact, a Rorschach Halloween mask should be one of the more popular costumes this year just like the Joker from last year. Actually, Watchmen Halloween costumes should be quite popular this year.
Overall, Watchmen is a great movie to see. It’s not for kids. But if you’re a kid-at-heart and want to see superheroes in action the Watchmen is highly recommended.
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