Vail He-Said/She-Said review: ‘The Watchmen’ | VailDaily.com
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Vail He-Said/She-Said review: ‘The Watchmen’

newsroom@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

2.5 stars out of 4

Superheroes, among their many charms, are almost always sexy, but a couple of characters in “The Watchmen” launch it to a whole new level. Just as striking is how others reach unprecedented lows in both attractiveness and charm.

“The Watchmen” is a story of super-powered individuals who are not all that heroic, and while in many ways, it’s a very cool film, it’s also replete with more gratuitous violence than just about any superhero film ever made. Maybe more than any action movie ever made. Regardless, just don’t take your 10-year-old. Unless he or she is unfazed by multiple sequences of exploding flesh, dogs fighting over the bones of a dead child and guys getting their arms sawed off.

That’s not to say that a couple of the superheroes ” at least two of them ” are not likable. The big, naked, blue guy is sure to win you over as is his ultra sexy, tight latex-clad girlfriend and the goofy and sweet Clark Kent lookalike.

Also, even if you watch half the movie with your sleeve over your face, the cinematography ” when it doesn’t involve blood seeping under a doorway or a bullet going through somebody’s calf ” is beautiful. And the story is intriguing, if not almost too profound to completely understand.

Faithful to the original comic book series/graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, “The Watchmen” focuses on a disbanded group of superheroes in a 1980s-like era of Nixon presidency in which The United States is in danger of engaging in nuclear war with The Soviet Union. The government has outlawed costumed superheroes, so a few of the Watchmen have gone off the radar while others have begun collaborating with the ruling politicians and economists. The most powerful character, Dr. Manhattan (aforementioned ” blue, naked, etc.), is the only one of The Watchmen who falls into the typical human-undergoes-freak-accident-and-acquires-superpowers motif. He led the U.S. to victory in the Vietnam War and is viewed by the general public as the most promising weapon against the Soviets.

The most ingenious part of the whole movie (which, let’s face it, could stand to be at least 30 minutes shorter) is the opening sequence, which takes you through the decades of superheroes as they relate to American history, some images magical and empowering and some disturbing and sad, all to the soundtrack of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’.” This is followed by two and a half hours of director Zach Snyder ” using Moore’s original concept ” effectively disseminating everything any of us have ever believed about superheroes.

For one, The Watchmen don’t operate on a “don’t kill, only maim” policy. They not only kill, but they don’t limit their killing to knocking off bad guys. The political landscape in which they engage in their sometimes deliberate and sometimes reactionary violence is really where the depth of this film takes its stride. Except the stride is more of a zigzag.

” Shauna Farnell

E-mail comments about this review to cschnell@vaildaily.com.

3.5 stars of 4

Right out of the gate it seemed like the film version of “Watchmen” was doomed for failure. First, the creator of the original comic book series, Alan Moore, had his name removed from the project because of Hollywood’s treatment of his other works (“The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” “V for Vendetta” and “300”). Then it was rumored that 20th Century Fox, which owned distribution rights for the film, was going to crush the project under its heel like a cigarette. So it’s somewhat of a miracle that we actually got to see “Watchmen” on the big screen at all, especially as planned.

Of course, unless you’re a fan of the original 12-issue comic book series, which was released more than 20 years ago by DC Comics, you could probably care less about all that nonsense. But that’s where the great divide really opens up. Fans of the comic are rabid and would accept nothing less than a faithful representation of its characters and plots in the film. After all, it single-handedly upped the ante for any comic book writer who wanted to be taken seriously in the field and elevated the medium to high art. But can such an epic undertaking please the fan base and the average viewer with no previous knowledge of the comics?

Yes, as long as both parties are willing to give a little bit.

The story is set in an alternate 1985, where Richard Nixon has just been elected for a third term as president of the United States and costumed vigilantes fight crime. America and the Soviet Union are on the brink of nuclear war and ordinary citizens are protesting the superheroes that help protect them because of wide spread abuses of power. Don’t worry, it gets even more complicated.

When The Comedian, a former member of the superhero group the Watchmen is murdered, another of its ranks begins his own investigation. Rorschach, who wears a white mask with a constantly morphing ink blot to match his emotions, thinks someone is gunning for costumed heroes and he promptly alerts the rest of his former teammates ” Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Doctor Manhattan and Ozymandias ” to the possible danger. From there the story takes as many twists and turns as a rollercoaster and that’s exactly what you’ll feel like you’ve been riding when the movie comes to its final conclusion at just under three hours. Are the “good guys” really the “bad guys?” Who will die for what they believe in? Will the world be swallowed up by an atomic war caused by fear and greed?

In all, it’s a roller coaster ride well worth taking. Zack Snyder does a hell of a job bringing the comic book panels and dialogue to life and not backing down on the heavy-handed content and themes that made it all so memorable and important. He doesn’t dumb it down to please a wider audience and there’s plenty of nudity, violence, romance, character examination and slow motion action sequences to please everyone. It’s not a perfect film, but a project like this could have been handled so much worse. “Watchmen” doesn’t raise the bar on superhero films like “The Dark Knight” did, but it does a great job of clearing the bar that’s been set.

” Charlie Owen

E-mail comments about this review to cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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