Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Movie Review: Watchmen

**Mildly spoily. I won't reveal the central mystery or endgame or anything but smaller plot points are fair game**

Months ago, I was at a movie with my brother, BW. I think it might have been The Dark Knight, but I'm not sure. Anyway, they showed the awesome original trailer for Watchmen. I'd seen it online of course, because I'm a geek, but seeing it on the big screen was SO cool. And I'm bouncing in my seat with glee. BW looks over at me and says, "You know, if you got pregnant TOMORROW, you'd have the baby before that movie comes out. I'm just sayin'." I glared at him and told him to shut it. Then we saw the preview for Terminator: Salvation and I bounce with glee some more. (I LOVE the Terminator series) And BW says, "Hey look! Another movie you can bring your newborn to!" I threw popcorn at him. (Also, I think someone really wants to be an uncle. Whatever, you'll have to keep waiting, dude!)

So, fast-forward the average gestational period of a human being, and I'm sitting in a theater with my mom and BW. I've been looking forward to this for MONTHS. EGT can vouch that whenever we've watched tv together over IM and saw a Watchmen preview, I'd scream-type "WATCHMEN!!!111!!!" She's very patient. So, the movie...LOVED IT! I mean really, there wasn't much chance that I wouldn't. But yeah, it pretty much lived up to all my expectations and then some.

Watchmen, as you know unless you've been living in a hole or aren't a geek or loved one of a geek, is the long-awaited film adaptation of a much-beloved graphic novel. The graphic novel is SO awesome. As great as the movie is, it really can't touch the muti-layered brilliance of the novel. Seriously, go read it. The movie opens with the murder of the Comedian/Edward Blake played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan who also was Daddy Winchester on Supernatural. Yeah, he's not as nice here. He gets his ass kicked and then tossed out a window and you can't say he didn't have it coming. Blake used to be part of a few crimefighting teams of masked avengers until they were outlawed some time ago.

The world of Watchmen is an alternate universe in which the U.S. won in Vietnam and is still embroiled in a bitter nuclear arms race with Russia. Richard Nixon is on his 5th term in office and the Doomsday Clock is set at five minutes to midnight...like it is in our current world. (I read a review that talked about how unrealistic and unrelatable Watchmen is because it's nothing like our current world and we don't even fight with Russia anymore and no one worries about nuclear war, anyway! Um. It's nice in that guy's world, isn't it? Why do idiots get to review movies...says the girl writing a movie review. QUIET, YOU.) Former masked heroes Dr. Manhattan/Jon Osterman and Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt are working together to develop an alternate energy source and make everyone with nuclear weapons chill the hell out.

Arriving stealthily under the cover of darkness to investigate the Comedian's death is Rorschach/Walter Kovachs, a former...coworker? I guess? of his. RORSCHACH IS MY VERY FAVORITE. And that was my favorite sequence in the graphic novel. He's one of those fictional characters that I want to follow around, eating popcorn and giggling in horrified delight at all the awful things he says. (Gene Hunt from the U.K. version of Life on Mars is another) Seriously, he's awesome. Uncompromising, right-wing, rigid, equally judgmental of the people who saves and who he saves them from; he really doesn't like anyone. He dislikes slightly less some of his fellow crime fighters, as long as they still fight crime. Rorschach is totally paranoid, possibly a sociopath and wears a creepy black and white mask. He partially narrates the film with raspy entries from his journal. Jackie Earle Haley does a PHENOMENAL job with the role. His is probably my favorite performance in the film.

Rorschach tries to round up all the remaining former heroes, but they aren't having it. He goes to Dr. Manhattan, the giant naked blue guy and his former (very!) jailbait girlfriend Silk Spectre II/Laurie Jupiter. Doc was on the wrong end of a scientific experiment and now he's pretty much omnipotent and can see his past, present and future at once. (Like the Doctor!) Billy Crudup plays him and does a brilliant job. And I hate saying that about him. YOU KNOW WHY, BILLY. In spite of the C.G.I. all over him, Crudup still manages a surprising nuance of expression and a soft, semi-bored voice. Well, who wouldn't find omniscience boring? Rorschach manages to, well, I'd say "piss off" but really "mildly annoys" Dr. Manhattan, who then teleports his pissy little ass on out of his giant government facility lab.

Anyway, plot plot plot, who's killing former masked avengers, who has a secret agenda, who doesn't, why is everyone such an asshole, when will the world end, fight fight fight. It's a very good time. All the actors are really great and I have to mention Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl II/Dan Dreiberg, kind of a dorky but nice guy, sort of still longing for the good old crimefighting days. Wilson gives him an interesting vulnerability. I am SUCH a huge Patrick Wilson fan, loved him in Angels in America, Hard Candy and God help me, Phantom of the Opera. (...Shut up) He's awesome here and you know, naked a lot. Have fun with that, kids!

Speaking of kids, OH MY GOD, WATCHMEN IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE FILM FOR CHILDREN UNDER 5 YEARS OLD. NO. And also, I just want to let anyone who hasn't seen the movie who is still reading this thing (thanks for that!) know, there is a very nasty attempted rape scene in the movie. (It's as well-done as it could be and actually integral to the plot and not really cheap exploitation) If that kind of thing bothers you, take a bathroom break. You'll need it, the movie's a fucking million years long. You'll see it coming, take a powder. Shakesville points out that very few film reviews have mentioned it; most are too busy talking about Dr. Manhattan's blue penis. Hey, a rape scene is nothing, but a dude seeing another dude's dick? NO, THANK YOU. Ugh, whatever.

The music in the film is a bit of a mixed bag. "Hallelujah," though it's one of my favorite songs, made me wince. I just don't think you can use it anymore in films or tv, really. The title sequence set to "The Times, They Are A-Changing" is a thing of BEAUTY. Seriously, it's amazing and does a lovely job of showing you the world that you are about the spend time in. And of course, My Chemical Romance's cover of "Desolation Row" plays over the closing credits and YOU KNOW I was bouncing in my chair. It's pretty great.

Watchmen is visually stunning and features some awesome, gory, bone-crunching fight scenes. Some of the fights are a little over-the-top; these guys, with the exception of Dr. Manhattan, DON'T have superpowers. But I'm totally willing to overlook that because it was so fun to watch. It's full of little details and treats for readers of the graphic novel, but I think it's accessible enough those who didn't read it. But if you saw the movie and enjoyed it? Read the book. Seriously. I'll loan you my copy! (Maybe)


EGT said...

(1) Yes, I am very patient.

(2) There seems to be a lot of nudity in this film.

(3) Huh. I'm not in your cast of characters...WHATEVS.

Sorsha Ni said...

Totally can't wait to see it after conversing with you about it. Very cool review. My, you were serious when you said you can get "wordy." :>)

"Lady" Bea said...

1. Yes. And I appreciate it!

2. Huh. Yeah, I guess there was! Good times.

3. My mother complained about the same thing. Congrats!

"Lady" Bea said...

Please, have we met? I can be wordy about ANYTHING.

And yes, see it soon so we can geek out about it!

Volstaag said...

A truly awesome film. Rorschach was definitely my fav. especially the prison stuff and as long as the movie was, I thought it went fast. very well paced.

"Lady" Bea said...

Yeah, the prison stuff was pretty hilarious. And gross. And one of the best lines, "I'm not locked in here with you -- you're locked in here with ME!"

Gotta love Rorschach.

Shadowfalls said...

Don't know when I'll see it, but I will. I'm reviewing the graphic novel again to refresh my memory. Thanks for the review. Anyone can know Batman, but not eveybody knows Watchmen. Now I know I'll like your blog.

"Lady" Bea said...

Thanks for the comment! I hope you DO like our blog! We think it's preeeetty.

Sorsha Ni said...

Saw it this weekend. Great flick. Amazing blue appendage on Dr. Manhatten! Holy freakin' moley! Will be re-reading the graphic novel now.

Shadowfalls said...

I don't agree on the movie. I've posted my disappoint at nightshadeloophole. Love the book. Not the movie.