Saturday, March 07, 2009

"Watchmen" (2009) - Movie Review

More and more as we near to the cynicism of our existence, there is a road away from the facade we have created and shelled for the daily sanity of livelihood. And the art forms taking their philosophical perspective on this complexity of the characters in human, the truth seems to be unbearable. May be the potency of that information might stall the steps we take in the day or may be we are not matured and in a constant denial to see through the facts and live with it. Whatever it is, the comic book films are no more comic and it has evolved in to a reality of fiction created by it. “Watchmen” is one such. While I was caught unguarded when the plot unfolds in the end, it took a long time to reach there and I mean a long time. I would have liked to see it in parts, sequel or as one of the early developmental suggestion of having a miniseries. Nevertheless director Zack Snyder takes upon the challenge and completes it despite that it barely reaches the scale of good in my mind.

It is the 80s and President Nixon (Robert Wisden) is there along with this clan of super heroes. There are many and they have generations. They have changed names and evolved through the time. The time where most of them have retired and the rest servicing openly and some finding peace in their normalcy. A veteran from the early generations of these super heroes is “The Comedian” (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and he gets thrown out of his apartment by a darkened face to meet his demise. This triggers another vigilante and cold hearted compadre Rorschach (Jackie Earl Haley) to investigate the murder and thus introducing us to the clan. Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson) a techie geek retired, the ultra super power Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) and his girl friend Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman) working for the US government in helping to stand tall in the face of Soviet’s threat and Adrian (Mathew Goode) a revealed super hero who has made a fortune for himself and works for alternate energy along with Dr. Manhattan.

What is unique about “Watchmen” is that it starts where the happy ending of super hero films leave. It begins with the failures of them in humans and their own struggle in giving a damn for a better world. They have lived long enough to see the atrocities in the streets hiding in the alleys with piled up sins oozing the venom in to the sewage of the city. It has disgusted them enough to retire or become the dark force. A force which does not believe in the defined law and the moral obligation for forgiveness. But that force has divided into psychopaths like The Comedian and the agonized blood seeker as Rorschach. Then of course there is Dr. Manhattan with the ability of being the god and wonders whether he really needs to care for the human kind.

This all sets up to be a nice and novel story to be listened and wondered upon. It does but then it begins to crawl in to the slow motions and makes us think unnecessarily. They lose the grip and falters into the attempt of poetically made scenes unmoving. Part of the problem are the numerous characters with each of their back stories going back couple of decades. Understandably every one needs their time but how much it is going to aid in making this film good? And in that they were not aware of the old saying “Be careful what you wish for”. They get complex situations and characters and they get them plethora of it to make them sweat.

I was of course interested in the developments of every character especially Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan. And the third view in the end makes it perfect. Rorschach while kills without hesitation when he sees a criminal is also conducted by his own rules of conscience. Dr. Manhattan on the other hand is a detached practical philosopher doing things without any single shred of purpose. He sees humans as spoiled brats and the kids who are always looking for some one to clean up their mess and console their guilty filled innocent face. He is not fed up but has seen that and does not want to waste his time on why because questioning nature is a one with no answer.

Before I went to the film, I have been hearing from couple of my colleagues who have read the comic book that the ending is “the” thing for “Watchmen”. They were worried that it would be bent, butchered and morphed for a wide audience under the hands of Hollywood business practices in its creativity. If there is a different ending than this, I sure would like to see that because this ending rescues a gloriously sinking film. And if something can top that, I will be in front of the line. Snyder has worked hard and words does not need to confirm that. Yet there is no way to reach across the aisle to hold hands with the “Watchmen”. I salute its uniqueness but projecting it all in one film is a poor choice of medium for such a wide story and characters.


Reel Fanatic said...

As someone who loves the comic book and liked the movie quite a bit, I'd be glad to tell you just how the endings differed, if you're sure you want to know (don't read on if you dont!) ... The intent of Adrian Veidt, as twisted as it is, is the exact same in the comic book and the movie .. The big difference is that instead of faking an attack by Dr. Manhattan, Veidt instead creates a giant squid, which the earthlings think is some kind of alien attack, causing them to all bond together out of fear ... For me, the ending of the movie was better than that insanity because it made it hit even harder when Dr. Manhattan has to kill Rohrschach (as he did in the comic book too)

Ashok said...

Ohh, that is interesting. As I said in the review, it would have been quite great to have several episodes of this or even a sequel of some kind. But I was surprised how much of gore I was able to take on. I realized it when I read couple of other reviews and thinking back it was pretty gory. But yeah it is a graphic novel and it comes with the territory I believe. But the film could have been better in my opinion.

Tyler Durden said...

For the comic book nuts: the device that Dr. Manhattan builds has an acronym S.Q.U.I.D, a nod to the novel. Being a big fan of the novel, I didn't like the movie much. Perhaps Terry Gilliam was right, the novel was/is indeed unfilmable.


Where is your "Joshua Tree" review?