“Who Watched the “Watchmen”? I Did.” - Movie Review.

By Bob Zerull

4 1/2 Stars:

I’ve never really been a comic book guy. I was always the baseball card guy while my brother was the comic book guy. I always enjoyed the comic book movies, but I can honestly say that I’ve never read a comic book as a kid. When I saw “Sin City,” I realized that comic books were more than just Superman, Batman and Spiderman. There was this whole other genre of stories. All the main stream superheroes were ruined because of TV shows and cartoons. However the comic books tell much darker stories of Batman and Superman. Stories that we never really get to see on the big screen. I think “Frank Miller’s Sin City,” “Hell Boy” and “Batman Begins” really paved the way for darker stories. After the success of “300” and “The Dark Knight” we were going to get a chance to see the ultimate comic book movie, “The Watchmen.”

I discovered “The Watchmen” by reading entertainment websites such as www.aintitcool.com. The announcement that Zack Snyder (“300,” Dawn of the Dead”) was going to take on the monumental task of filming a story that has been deemed un-filmable was when I became interested. How good could this story really be? I had read up on Alan Moore, author of “The Watchmen,” as well as “V for Vendetta” among other. Alan Moore supposedly hates movies based on comic books. He won’t allow his named to be used on the credits and he will not accept any of the royalties.

Apparently studios have been trying to make this movie for years/decades. At one point Terry Gilliam (Monty Python, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) and then later Paul Greengrass (“United 93,” “The Bourne Supremacy”) were slated to direct. Alan Moore was able to talk Terry Gilliam out of it while Paul Greengrass’s version never got out of preproduction. Needless to say this is a highly anticipated movie.

I have read “The Watchmen” once. However it is a story designed for multiple readings as is the movie. The underlying theme of the story is: What would it be like if ordinary people dressed up as superheroes to fight crime? The story takes place in a 1985 where Richard Nixon is still President and the Cold War is about to become World War III. Masked Vigilantism has been outlawed and it appears that the former vigilantes are being attacked one by one.

The story opens with the death of the Comedian also known as Edward Blake. The death of the Comedian leads the character Rorschach to dig deeper into his death. Nobody knows who the superheroes are except the inner circle of superheroes. Eventually one by one the superheroes are taken out of the picture so that a master plan can unfold, but who is behind it?

The movie is nearly three hours long and extremely complicated. I would not be able to go into the details of the story in under 1000 words. I would like to however compare the movie to the book and explain what I think works and doesn’t work. What works are the characters. It took me a little while to get used to seeing them move. All of these characters only appeared in “The Watchmen,” so I’m used to just seeing a still image. The casting was great. Specifically Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian and Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. There wasn’t a weak link in the cast. I have read criticism of Malin Akerman as the Silk Spectre II, but I disagree with that. I think the only reason there is criticism is because she’s from “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” She is exactly how I read her character in the comic.

The new ending works well too. I spent the whole movie thinking I was going to hate the altered ending. When it finally hit I believed that it made more sense. In the comic there is that moment where the “bad guy” explains his master plan and it kind of reads cheesy. The movie is able to avoid that the cheesiness to an extent. The same stuff happens, it just happens differently.

What doesn’t work is Richard Nixon. He is too prominent a role in the movie. The book pretty much just refers to Nixon, but in the movie we see too much of him and to be honest it is annoying, because the makeup is terrible. It would have been cool if they could have cast Frank Langella from “Frost/Nixon” to play Nixon, but oh well. Another thing that doesn’t work is the music. There are some great songs chosen for the movie, but they just don’t fit with the movie or they are out of place in the movie depending on the song.

However these flaws do not detract from the movie as a whole. The movie is terrific. It is definitely not for everyone. It is pretty graphic and intense. It is also a complicated story, especially for a “comic book.” Ultimately I think this movie is going to get compared to “Sin City” and “The Dark Knight.” Is it better or as good as those two? In my opinion, no, but it is great regardless.


Bob Zerull is a frequent movie and concert goer who talks about his ventures to arenas and theaters more than any person should be allowed to do. Now, he puts them down on paper. Email him your thoughts at: bzerull19@gmail.com.

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Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with your assessment of the film version of Laurie/Silk Spectre II. I thought she was very, very bland compared to the character in the comic and unironically fetishized. She is supposed to have a trashy-looking costume in the comic but it's also criticized and she is resentful of it. There is none of that in the movie.


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