Who watches the Watchmen? I did and I'll never get my seven bucks back!
It’s the first major release of the 2009 summer movie season, it has tons of hype, and a blue guy who is too smart and awesome to wear pants. So, how did I feel about Watchmen after leaving the theater after digesting a 3 hour movie, too much popcorn, and a large Coke? I was hungry for a much better paced movie, and I really had to pee.
Watchmen starts off with a bang, and from there it’s all downhill. The first action sequence is very well done. The opening credits for the film are also great. Sadly, everything after that is pretty pedestrian. The basic plot is as follows: The world is in dire straits. Those crazy Commies are getting ready to launch nukes (we assume, as this fact is never actually SHOWN in the movie) and Richard Nixon (who is in dire need of a nose job) is freaking out about how to handle it. Elected to a third term in this alternate time line due to a rousing victory in Vietnam, Nixon comes and goes from the movie when some political back-story is needed to give the film what mild sense of urgency it has. The Doomsday Clock (which you can now get from Timex in a smaller, more fashionable wrist version) is ticking down to destruction and the Unites States rests its hopes on a super nerd turned moody blue badass, Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup). The good doctor has his hands full, as he is trying to help create an unlimited energy source while gearing up to double penetrate his girlfriend with clones of himself. I do that too, but I’m usually making hot dogs at the time.
Amidst all this fun we have the rag tag group of former “heroes” the Watchmen attempting to solve the murder mystery of one of their comrades in arms. You see, The Comedian (Edward Blake) was murdered by an unknown assailant, and it’s up to Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley – yeah I have no idea who the hell he is either) to get to the bottom if it by running around town and breaking into places. He tries to enlist the help of his nerd friend Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson) in an attempt to find the killer. The final members of the crew are Silk Spectre II (played by a woman who’s more wooden than the chairs in my living room), a daring slut who will jump on any guy who pays attention to her, and Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), a blond pretty boy billionaire. He’s basically a fruity non-threatening version of Bruce Wayne.
Eventually the two plots meet, some things explode, Dr. Manhattan rocks out with his cock out while having mood swings, and Rorschach clues the audience in all the while with voiceovers so gruff you’d swear it was your uncle who knocks back 10 packs a day. The movie has some standout action scenes with the final conflict and prison escape being my favorites. There’s tons of blood to go around, a little pointless sex here and there, and loads of trademark slow motion Zack Snyder ass kicking. However, this is all ruined by a lack of urgency. The movie just rolls from one scene to the next and the audience never really feels like all this is happening under the umbrella of an imminent nuclear war. In fact, it’s almost an afterthought.
Some things also feel very rushed. For example, Dr. Manhattan goes from being a whiny bitch hiding on Mars to changing his mind in a matter of minutes, all from revealing something he already knew. Nite Owl II gets plenty of screen time, and he’s a fairly likeable chap, especially when being used by Slut Spectre II, however their relationship feels forced throughout the film. Basically Nite Owl ends up getting sloppy seconds. He doesn’t seem to mind though.
Rorschach is the most developed character in the film and the only one who the audience can really connect with. The Comedian is the funny man of the group, which is highly disturbing. The guy basically shoots everyone he meets, is always drunk, admits to beating women, and tries to rape the original Slut Spectre (played wonderfully by Carla Gugino). This guy is the FUNNY ONE?! He should have been called The Sadist or The Rapist, not The Comedian.
Overall, the movie was a letdown. Coming in at almost 3 hours, the pacing is more loose than Slut Spectre II after a romp in the sack with Dr. Manhattan. The acting is nothing to write home about, and the music choices seemed very out of place to me. Also, while I realize the movie took place in an alternate 80’s timeline, it sure never really felt like it. In fact, all mention of that could be dropped from the movie without any impact whatsoever.
On the plus side, the directing was good, and some of the writing and dialogue was clever. David Hayter (SNAAAAAAAKE) and Alex Tse no doubt tried to cater this movie to fans of the comics and people like me who have never read it. In the end though, I think they just managed to alienate both worlds. Maybe the rumored 4 hour director’s cut will change things, but if anything I feel this movie needs to get shorter instead of even longer.
Oh yeah, and Ultraman could totally take huge Dr. Manhattan.