Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Watchmen" - spoiler movie review

While I've never read the "Watchmen" graphic novel, I do know enough about it to know its history and the reverence with which it is held by many in the comics community. When I saw the trailer for the movie "Watchmen", though, I was intrigued.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film. Not knowing any of the characters, I thought it might be difficult to get adjusted to the story and the world that the characters are set in, but it wasn't difficult at all. It's set mostly in our world, though an alternate reality version, since Nixon is elected to something like five terms and the U.S. actually won the war in Vietnam. And while there is a fairly large cast of characters, it was interesting to learn the backstory of each of them.

There is a lot of time jumping because they talk about not only the current batch of heroes but also the first batch, and how the two are intertwined and how they're connected. I also liked the stylized look of the film, which I think fit in well with the story of the film itself.

The opening sequence, when the Comedian is killed, set to Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" was brilliant. They actually use quite a number of iconic songs in the film, which made me wonder exactly how much they paid just for song clearances alone. But then, that's a particular quirk of mine.

I thought the reveal that Janey Slater was involved with Pyramid was going to be the big twist, that she was behind the whole thing mostly because of her residual resentment towards Dr. Manhattan, but the real story was even more sinister - the culprit behind the murders is actually one of their own. And his reasoning is actually for benevolent reasons - well, at least in his view. It's not just because he's power-hungry. He's doing what he feels is necessary to save the human race - but in the process, millions of humans have to be sacrificed. But is that tempered by the fact that the loss of millions is going to save billions? An interesting question.

Malin Akerman plays Laurie/Silk Spectre II. I liked her, though I found it fairly distracting because she looked so much like a young Lucy Lawless, from her "Xena: Warrior Princess" days. So then I was surprised when I saw pictures of her, and it appears that she's normally a blonde. With the blonde hair, there's no resemblance at all. There's one picture of her that I saw where she kind of looks like Natalie Portman. So even though I don't think I've ever seen her in anything before, she looks familiar because she reminds me of other people.

Oddly enough, her mother is played by Carla Gugino, who is entirely not old enough to be playing her mother, being only seven years older. I think she did a pretty good job as well, though it took me a while to recognize her. I know her mostly from the TV show "Threshold". I did think they did a horrible job with the makeup in her scenes as the older version of herself.

Carla, left, plays mom to Malin, right.

Billy Crudup does a good job as Jon/Dr. Manhattan, though he spends most of his time glowing blue, kind of like the Blue Man Group. The exploration of him losing his humanity was pretty interesting, though I wasn't expecting the full frontal naked view of him on several occasions.

Jackie Earle Haley is pretty incredible as Rorschach, though I wish they'd explained how his mask did that thing which gave him his name since his face itself didn't do that. And maybe it's just me, but at times, especially during the prison sequences, he looked kind of like Danny Bonaduce.

Patrick Wilson is pretty good as Nite Owl II. Again, the actor looked familiar. In looking at his credits, I do remember him as the husband in "Lakeview Terrace", but I completely don't remember that he played Raoul in the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera".

Matt Frewer has a nice little role as Moloch. I didn't really recognize him, but I certainly recognized his voice. But then, I'll always know him as Max Headroom. I wish he was in more things.

The film is pretty long, coming in at close to 3 hours. But I never felt the length, and I was never bored. I'd like to see the film one more time in theatres.

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