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Finally saw Watchmen

March 16, 2009

209px-posterfeb1aI wanted to rush out opening weekend, but I’m too old for that kind of thing.  Me in a packed theater with a hundred people who could already tell you what they did wrong before the previews started…nope.  Mostly because I couldn’t get a sitter.

Let me preface my opinions with the fact that I have never read the graphic novel.  I have only read blurb comments from other reviewers.  This is 99% my own unbiased theatrical experience.

It was awesome.

This film will stay logged as an example of character development.  Heroes always have dark pasts, but the differences in how they deal with the darkness is stunning.  I will try to stay spoiler-free, so if I reveal something, it’s because it happens early.  Like the Comedian’s death.  It was a stroke of brilliance on someone’s part that a character that dies in the opening sequence can be as vile as you can make him without havng to worry about lost sympathy.  No matter how much I disliked him, I didn’t have to worry about his comeuppance; it already happened.  And his jaded, villainous character was still unquestionably a hero.  The casting for him was excellent.

In fact, all the casting was great.  Ozymandias may have been a little on the model side, but it kind of worked.  The nerdy Nite Owl, the too sexy to be that naked Silk Spectre…but Rorschach stole the show for me.  Hard core to the verge of evil yet held fast to a very personal code.  The subtle elements (like Nite Owl’s problem with…wait, no spoilers) were nicely worked in and believable.

Let’s not forget Dr. Manhattan.  I told my wife I was going to shave my body and paint myself blue for Halloween.  She laughed.  Apparently I lack his physique.  It’s good to know, however, that if I am atomized in some nuclear experiment and come back glowing blue, at least I will be anatomically correct.  No Ken dolls here.  Anyway, his character was interesting in his alienness, especially the struggle to maintain humanity.  I think that could have been done better (read: more subtly), but it was pretty good as it was.  He maintains concern (at least feigned) for humanity while losing his ability to connect with anyone human-to-human.  No more on that, but again, this is all setup, not major storyline developments.

The film’s execution was fantastic, a little CGI heavy at moments, moments that really called attention to the moments of CGI-free action.  In otherwords, I felt a couple soundstages looked like soundstages (burning building) while other scenes looked like screensavers (that big thing of Manhattan’s).  But 90% of the film maintained a good balance.  The shots that were ripped straight from comic art were excellent.

I can’t talk about the movie without talking about what caught me most off guard: the sex.  Nite owl gets naked (with a glimpse of everything), Silk Spectre gets naked (thank you for that), Dr. Manhattan is usually naked, and there are some other moments more Desperate Houswives than they are HBO.  As my wife put it, “I didn’t expect that much naked.  It wasn’t all just gratuitous flesh; the scenes were plot-line appropriate and tastefully done (except for the one that wasn’t supposed to be tasteful).  My wife and I both approved.  She also approved of the taste of reality the women’s bodies had (faces had wrinkles, breasts were not plastic, etc.).  All in all, a nice tablespoon of sex to go with the plateful of violence.

There were images that were quite graphic (violence side here, we stopped talking about sex; keep up).  Blades, broken bones, doge, innards…but nothing so grotesque as to churn my notoriously weak stomach.  I cringed but never cowered.  I probably have a higher threshold for violence in my cinema than many people, but my threshold for gore is at or below population average.  Still, some harsh situations (Rorschach’s backstory, Comedian and Jupiter).  I get worse feelings watching 24 on FOX.

To sum up, it was an excellent movie for those that likedark and gritty in their superhero stories.  It’s got great character development, varied characters, a much more complete story than 300, more grit than any X-men movie ever will, the right dose of sex for audiences that believe such exists, and no big name actors to pack the seats.  That’s right, none.  Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre) will probably make it big off of this and Jackie Earle Haley’s notoriety should spike (Rorschach), as should Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s (Comedian or Denny on Grey’s Anatomy).  Those are my predictions.  I also expected Lord of the Rings to make a box office draw out of Viggo Mortenson…so consider my track record.

That’s all for now.  I may break it down a bit more in the future, say when the BluRay comes out.  So much more to say but I don’t want to spoil it.  Especially you writers out there, watch this film.  It’s good.


One Comment leave one →
  1. March 16, 2009 12:20 pm

    Yes! The movie was dead-on. Even if Alan Moore didn’t like it, but then he never likes adaptations of his work. I think he’s “protesting too much” on this one.

    The love-making scenes were startling because they seemed realistic. I know, realism in a super-hero movie. Go figure. I liked that Silk Spectre was hot without being an over-objectified Barbie. I liked that men’s bodies were equally displayed. That resulted in a lot of giggles and uncomfortable squirming in the theater, which shows that it’s just not what people are used to seeing. Women’s bodies usually get objectified in unrealistic ways, and this movie showed everyone in the same real light.

    Reminds me of the beginning of 28 Days Later, when a number of men in the theater with me groaned or gasped as though completely disgusted by Cillian Murphy’s full frontal.

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