So let me come right out and say it, there is a lot of digital blue penis in The Watchmen. Doctor Manhattan, one the stars of the film, is a man made of energy who is naked for almost the entire movie. For a small time he’s in human form, and when out on a mission sports a banana hammock. I’ll be honest that I felt a little uncomfortable seeing a flaccid blue dong on the IMAX screen repeatedly.
Right now that’s out of the way, on to the review.
Based on Allen Moore’s infamous 1986 comic which made Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Novels of All Time. Not bad for a genre that’s supposed to be aimed at kids. I’m a long time comic fan and to be honest have always thought Watchmen was a bit overrated. The more I’ve thought about it I’d equate my feelings to those of a 16 year old watching Citizen Kane for the first time. They would wonder, “What’s the big deal?”. They wouldn’t realize that this work changed everything that followed. After Watchmen, and Frank Millers’ classic The Dark Knight Returns which also came out in 1986, comics would never be the same.
The simplest way to describe Watchmen is that it’s a murder mystery set among the backdrop of the Cold War, and superheroes. Though that is an incredibly simple way of describing it. It has much deeper undertones and reminds us just how crazy America about the Soviets.
There really are no big stars in Watchmen. The cast seems to have been selected more for their resemblance to the characters than for name recognition. This is a sign of things to come. Watchmen’s story is very deep. It features completely original characters, that while heavily influenced by some DC Comics characters. This requires each character to be given a share of the screen time to explain their origins, and each is given their time. This results in a film that is incredibly faithful to the source material, and one that with trailers comes in at around the three hour mark.
The acting is strong, though not memorable. The story is great, but perhaps too deep for someone that hasn’t read the comic. The effects are overall good, though some of the age make-up is a bit inconsistent. After repeat viewing I’m sure that the film will make a lot more sense to both newbie, and veteran alike. To be honest the scene I’m most interested in looking back on is the opening credits. It holds more true to the source material than any other comic to film translation, except perhaps Sin City, but that’s the problem.
Watchmen writer Alan Moore has been very vocal with his disdain for previous adaptations of his work, and after seeing The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen who could blame him. If you’ve read the comic and liked it you’ll like the movie. If you’re a fan of unique storytelling and interesting effects you’ll definitely dig it.
Overall rating 8.5 out of 10
For a different view of Watchmen check out this spoof of it as an 80’s Saturday morning cartoon. What scares me the most it actually seems like something that could have been made.