March 07, 2009
Blown away by Watchmen
I was very curious to watch Watchmen after seeing the fantastic visuals in previews last year. I knew it was one heck of a graphic novel and had a fan base even here in the Philippines, but I never got around to reading it, not being a comic book fan. (Although I was reared on a small diet of DC Comics and Marvel superheroes, the storylines then were still happy and uncomplicated.)
As the credits rolled at end of the film, I just had to clap my hands in appreciation. Watchmen didn't disappoint. It's a film where you don't need any prior background knowledge about the characters and the storyline to appreciate it. To that Zack Snyder (who also directed the awesome 300) should be congratulated for not alienating moviegoers who didn't read the novel. (I'm not sure about how the novel's fans feel though. I read somewhere that there's some point in the film's ending that was changed from the original.)
Of course, it's not an easy narrative to follow, and with the theme so dark, and some characters immersed in their own psychoses (most people still think of comic book superheroes as one-dimensional good guys all around), there will be some moviegoers who might be turned off by it. I, however, bought the whole film hook line and sinker. Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon as president for three terms? Sure why not! You can just smell how bad this story is supposed to end. The U.S. winning the war in Vietnam because of the blue superhero Dr. Manhattan, okay, bring it on! Superheroes getting retired, aha. Who woulda thought? (Writer Alan Moore is a genius. It's unfortunate he felt the film was not good enough to warrant his name being credited.)
Sure there were some parts that didn't work for me, the almost cheesy love scene between Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), and the Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) character whose portrayal was very flat and uninteresting in most of the film. But over all, Watchmen was mindblowing. I left the movie theater mildly disturbed by the ending w/c begs the question, how far should we go to achieve world peace? So it's definitely not your ordinary superhero movie. Which is why I loved it. And why I needed a stiff drink after.
There are no big name actors in this movie which is fortunate because they don't distract from the real celebrity here w/c is the story itself. My favorite character is the sinister Rorscach/Walter Kovacs (played by Jackie Earle Haley, remember Bad News Bears?) who plays narrator in the film and is the one who pushes on to investigate The Comedian's death. He wears a mask with an ever-changing inkblot, very cool. But his character is so menacing and depressing, you wonder how he ever became a super hero.
(Off tangent: About 20 minutes into Watchmen I was thinking, Jeffrey Dean Morgan should change his manager. Playing The Comedian this time, he winds up dead. Again. For those who don't know, Morgan played heart patient Denny Duquette in Grey's Anatomy, Dr. Izzie Stevens' love interest who dies and comes back to haunt her. Weird. He also had a short stint as Judah Botwin in the first season of Weeds. Married to Mary Louise Parker's character Nancy, Judah dies in an accident even before the show starts and is seen mostly through flashbacks. Hay.)
Before I spill the beans on the rest of the film, just go watch it and be open to the entire experience. I'm ready for my second turn at Watchmen. And yeah, I am buying the book.