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The Watchmen - A Review

By MauriceRevek - Posted on 19 March 2009

Who Watched the Watchmen?

I did. Twice.

I wanted to wait a while before posting my review as I did not want to spoil anything about the movie for those who had not seen it and wanted to.

First off, to get it out of the way: I loved it. It is a good movie. It has a good story, which is definitely not your run of the mill typical American movie (no offense Troll). It has very good cinematography. The costumes where well designed, and believable.

I liked how they used the opening credits to introduce you to a lot of the background story which could not be be included in the movie.

The movie, as most of you know, is based on a 12 part mini series published by DC waaaay back in the 80's. I remember seeing the first issue in the comic book store, and being drawn to it by the eye catching cover: the smiley face with the "human been juice" on it. I picked it up and leafing through it, I could see that there was definitely something unique about it. It took 12 whole months to get to read the entire story, but it was worth it.

The movie was quite fateful to the book, except in 2 places, which I will recount now to get them out of the way.

1.- The flame thrower incident. I'm all for political correctness and all that, but there are some times where it goes too far, and it spoils the story. This was one of those cases. While in Archie in the basement garage, Laurie looks at the dash board and presses the Flame button which turns on the flame thrower. The fact that she pressed the button in the first place is somewhat dubious as she is a woman in what seems to be her late 30's, lived most of her adult years to that point on a military base with the only true super being of the movie. She is used to being surrounded by all kinds of devices with buttons that have serious repercussions if you press them. This is simply not a typical child who wants to see what happens when you press this button.

In the book, Laurie is a smoker, quite possibly a heavy smoker. She retreats downstairs to sneak a smoke, and goes into Archie to relax. She tries to locate a cigarette lighter in the dash, as you would find in a car, and is drawn to the button with the flame logo on it. As we saw in the movie, instead of getting a lighter for her cigarette, she triggers the flame thrower and almost burns down the whole place. By not having her be a smoker, it also negated the joke from the book where Dan says its a good thing you did not press the missile launcher button right next to it, which prompted the expected "I'm never touching these dammed things again". A missed opportunity for anti-smoking message. "Stop smoking, or you could accidentally launch a missile or burn your house down with the in-vehicle flame thrower."

2. And this is my biggest peeve with the movie. Ozzy-man simulates John's powers and destroys multiple cities across the world in an effort to unit the world together against a common enemy: Dr. Manhattan. In the book, Ozzy does come up with a similar plan, but he only attacks New York, and does it with a giant monster that would have telleported from an "alternate dimension". Being confronted with an imminent alien invasion would unite the world together against a common enemy. If, as they did in the movie, the world believes that Dr. Manhattan did destroy the cities, it would not unite the world against Dr. Manhattan, but rather it would unite them against the United States, as Dr. Manhattan was a creation of the US government, and was the very center of its nuclear arsenal. Russia would have said the U.S. got what they deserved for creating such a monstrosity, and the rest of the world would have to unite to prevent such a thing from happening again, and punish the American and their arrogance for being responsible for so many deaths across the world. Nixon would have been tried in a world court for crimes against humanity, and probably sentenced to death.

Okay, enough with the "purist nit picking", and here are my thoughts of the movie.

Story: Very good. For a series that had been declared as unfilmable, they did a very good job at keeping true to the essence of the story.

Actors / Acting: Very good. I am actually glad that they went with non-markee actors. All of the actors in the movie did a good job at portraying the various characters in the movie. I particularly liked the way they portrayed Rorschach and the Owl. Also, and I just realised this as I am writing, the entire dialogue int eh movie was spoken without a single curse. Yes there was nudity and sex in the movie, but it did not feel gratuitous and was actually well filmed, and did come from the book. I am glad that they did not feel the need to embellish the script by making the comedian a foul-mouthed brute that swears more than Eddi Murphy in Raw or Delirious, or Tony Montana in Scarface, although the opportunity was there.

Filming / Special Effects: The cinematography and special effects in the movie were all well done. I am glad that they did not choose to go with the close up combat filming that has become typical of action movies these days, but I think the slowed down or paused effect when bones are breaking or bullets going through flesh is starting to get over-used, and is starting to become "look, we are breaking a bone here", or "this guy took a bullet in the head, watch the back of his head explode in 1/4 the speed". It's becoming too much like most comedies that feel the need to overemphasise the arrival of the punch line.

Scene that needs to be banned from all future movies: Those of you that have seen the movie know the scene I am talking about. Its that seen where something bad happens and the hero falls to his knees and screams at the top of his lungs: "NOOOOOOOOOOOO". Its over used, and does not really add anything anymore. Just for having it in the movie: -1/2 paw.

**** (editor: please substitute with the 4.5 half star ratting]

Coxxorz's picture

On our third attempt to watch this movie, we only got to see half of it (undisclosed projector "emergency" forced an evacuation), so I only read half your review.

(P.S.: The last editor to attempt modifying one of your posts is still in therapy, so we sent an unmanned drone this time)

Swag's picture

But the way you set up the review makes it look like you gave the story one paw out of five, then two out of five paws for the actings, and so on.

My favorite scene was the beginning where the Comedian gets killed. The fight scene was very well choreographed and the use of slow motion when the Comedian was throw out the window was a nice touch.

I also somewhat disagree with you about the problem with the ending. You may be right, but remember that New York was also attacked, and so people around the world may have believed that Dr. Manhattan went renegade and turned his back on the human race (which he basically did when he went to mars). Still, the original ending would not have been as ambiguous.

And I will regret saying this, but I am glad that they showed Dr. Manhattan's naked.

Coxxorz's picture

Having seen it 1.5 times now, I can safely say that I like this movie. I like the visual style, the narrative style, the tasteful sex, the flawed characters, the acting, the script... and even the story – it was all there. I didn't even notice the male nudity until partway through the bedroom scene, when some dude in the back of the theatre exclaimed "There's too many wieners!".

Minus 1/4 paw for being DC comics.

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