Starring: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson
Directed by: Zach Snider
It’s time to let your inner fanboy come out to play. This movie finally put on screen the imaginings of many who have ever wondered – what would the world be like if normal people could in fact be superheroes? What personality traits would they have, what insecurities would manifest, what type of person would go out of his way to be labeled both savior and sociopath? Watchmen answers these questions and many not even thought of.
The movie brings us back to mid 1980’s America, with a few changes, including Richard Nixon’s knack for getting re-elected and the US and USSR moving ever closer to all out nuclear war.
In the cities, the streets were once run by gangs, but were cleaned up by various groups of colorfully-masked vigilantes. In return for their hard work, they were banned from practicing their unique style of crime fighting sans due process and Miranda.
Now retired, these former butt-kickers are scattered about, some working for the government or corporate entities, others try to live quiet, unassuming lives, while still others cling to their vigilantism at much cost to their reputations and sanity. Their lives change irrevocably in the opening sequences when one of the former “masks” is murdered, and another starts alerting other former heroes, hoping to stop a potential war on masks.
Once you get past the initial fanfare, you realize the story is not about athletic heroes in capes and masks, but about the men and women who wear them. Only one of the Watchmen has true, super-human powers, though for all his omnipotence, he struggles to maintain a human connection to the ones he loves. Another must deal with a different type of potence, of the “im-” variety. One has maternal abandonment issues, another, “who’s my daddy” problems. An amusing set of psychological cases that humanize these characters despite their ability to build inconceivable devices, leap high distances, and floor a prison full of convicts with bare-knuckle knockouts.
The movie is not without its social commentary. The cold war ironically centers on the US’s involvement in the Middle East, while the citizenry deals with the crumbling society and infrastructure of the recessional 80’s.
The actors do a great job of bringing to life their comic-book counterparts. Patrick Wilson’s Nite Owl II is endearing and relatable, while Malin Akerman does a good job interpreting Silk Spectre II’s internal conflicts around her familial and romantic relationships. The standout is Jackie Earle Haley, whose Rorschach persona puts the pieces of the puzzle together in the movie, and whose rasping voice provides the Greek chorus throughout the saga. His character proclaims the most memorable line of the movie, where he declares to his vanquished prison mates “I’m not locked in here with you – you are locked in here with me!” Overall this is a great ensemble, with no one actor trying to pull focus, which makes for a great story. It’s also great to see a cast of accomplished albeit lesser known actors given the opportunity to breath life into these larger than life characters without the easy aid of their celebrity.
Jack Snyder and his Director of Photography Larry Fong did an excellent job of showing us the story, almost frame by frame, almost ripped straight from the pages of its graphic novel. I did not read the original piece in advance but I brought with me my own resident expert, who confirmed that there was almost nothing that even the most discriminating fan-boy could pick at in this movie. They treated Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s graphic novel as a textual and visual bible which they dared not sin against.
It must be noted that the novel was ground breaking during its time for the adult subject matter it dared to bring to its pages, and the movie does the same. Take the R rating seriously, as this is not a movie for little ones… unless you want to explain the very visual love scene in the clouds to your tykes, or have to deal with the fact that our blue atomic matter manipulator is lucky to be both a shower and a grower. The violence is also very graphic; think Snyder’s other hit 300 for the type of bone cracking, limb ripping visuals that await your viewing pleasure.
With that said, this movie is definitely worth the sitter’s cost to see sans kids, and if your +1 isn’t into comics or bloody fight scenes, you may want to cash some brownie points for this one and see by yourself or with the guys, though you may be surprised that there is enough eye candy for her as well. You may be asked to don a cape a mask yourself afterwards…
Your Daddy Time: Worth it or Wasted? Worth it! 4/5 stars
The Rating System is for dads who need to know one thing- Is this movie WORTH IT to:
* Pack up the kids, bags, etc and trek to the theater – or
* Find a babysitter so Dad can have a date night – or
* Cash in brownie points with the Mrs. so he can go with his buddies
If it doesn’t fit these simple criteria, the movie gets the WASTED rating, which means – don’t waste the precious time you have, wait for video/cable when you can squeeze it between chores, work and sleep.
Miguel Guadalupe is a Director at Gartner Inc, a technology research company. Miguel (he’s the one in the middle) grew up in New York City and currently resides in New Jersey. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he currently volunteers for various alumni and community organizations, and is the proud father of a two beautiful girls.