I had no idea what to expect from Watchmen
as my only connection to the material prior to the movie was through the teaser with the Smashing Pumpkins' The Beginning is the end is the Beginning
. I knew from the trailer that there was once a group called Watchmen who defended the city back in the 30's but they were long gone. One of them had been killed, so solving that mystery and avenging the murder was the premise of the film.
When we got to the theater, there were signs in the window warning that Watchmen
had been rated R for intense violence and explicit sexuality, almost as if the film should have gotten an NC -17. Immediately, i was reminded of the Sin City
debacle, namely, the alleged theater in Texas that only took cash because there were so many senior citizens going to see the movie and the theater didn't want to refund the money or have a way for the patrons to stop payment on a check or credit card. I was also reminded of the headline Walt Disney's
Sin City does $21 Million Open Weekend
and the aftermath.
Filled with a cast of accomplished, though unknown actors, Watchmen
was very well acted. Through the twists and turns of the plot, each character got more screen time as their character's backstory was told. The person to keep your eye on is this ensemble is Patrick Wilson. Wilson doesn't have a long list of credits to his name. His most memorable credits are playing a fop of a boyfriend in Andrew Lloyd Webber's film adaptation of his Phantom of the Opera
and a pedophile that is in turn tortured by his victim in Hard Candy
. (For a real treat, go grab a copy of Hard Candy
to see a pre-Juno Ellen Page in the role of...antagonist?). Wilson does rather well playing the role of an overweight has-been--so much so, that it doesn't feel acted at all, much like Rosie O'Donnel's performance in Riding the Bus with My Sister
Jackie Earle Haley--there's not a lot to say about this guy. Yes, he was Rorschach who was, in some respects, the main attraction. But there's only so much performance that you can put into body language and voiceovers alone--an actor needs to be able to emote. Morgan's scenes as Walter Kovacs were distracting because I kept comparing him to William Fichtner.
Malin Akerman was a sexy Silk Spectre and as such was only so much eye-candy. Billy Crudup is one of those great character actors that you can never identify much like Gary Oldman: you only know they're in the cast because the credits told you so. For the record, there are enough shots of the blue schlong to make women happy, but I don't think that anyone other than a pre-pubecent teen will enjoy the elongated sex scene between Nite Owl and Silk Spectre.
If there is any lack of character, it is that of the Comedian in his older days. Granted, it wouldn't have served the story for the Comedian to be around if he wasn't in flashbacks outside of the opening scene, but it's a damn shame. Despite his imperfections, I think his older, mellower self would have made a fine drinking buddy.
Zack Snyder doesn't disappoint when it comes to showing the ass-kickings that are constantly being dished out, something that the younger generation will enjoy because they have no outlets for their angst. If this film will do anything to the "yute of America" it will be to turn them on to old sixties and seventies music. Nearly all of the choices for the soundtrack were sensibly used with the exception of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". This song was so disharmonious that it actually worked against the scene in question and made one want to head to the concession stand. I personally sung along to Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence". It will be interesting to see which songs are downloaded and listened to by the younger generations that see this film.
The ending was anticlimactic. You didn't really care about the antagonist and by the time you figured out what really happened, you really didn't care. The film does seem to drag on and on even though you want more and more. I caught myself looking at my watch more than once trying to calculate when the film would conclude not due to lack of interest but due to wanting to get up out of my seat.
Speaking of the ending, I do have a gripe with this film's final moments. After all is said and done, there's no news to report on because evil has been abolished. The reporter turns to his editor and says "What should we run? That actor Reagan is running for President." Now, I know that Reagan laughed at the joke when it was in Back to the Future
. In fact, when they showed Back to the Future
at the White House, Reagan had them stop the film, run it back and play the joke again.
I was miffed with this line because I thought it was yet another pot shot at one of the greatest Presidents that we had ever had. After I had seen the film, I ran into a buddy who had read the graphic novel. He said that this was in the source and that you have to remember that in the comics Nixon had four terms. Armed with this understanding, I can give the "joke" a pass, but I'm afraid that the younger generation will not fully understand the background to this line and will walk out of the theater hating a President they never knew.
All in all, I feel like it would be worth $6 to go see this film on the big screen.