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  MOVIE REVIEW
   Watchmen

   
    Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley (both from the film "Little Children") flank Malin Akerman in "Watchmen", which opened this morning at midnight across the U.S. and Canada in    
    IMAX and on 35mm screens.  Mr. Wilson is pictured above as Nite Owl, Ms. Akerman is Silk Spectre II, and Mr. Haley is brilliant as Rorschach in Zack Snyder's latest film, which doesn't
    sustain itself.  (Photo: Warner Brothers)
 Watching Them Watching Us Watch This Pain And Torment
   By Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com     
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   Friday, March 6, 2009

   For many Watchmen fans the test of whether you will like the film "Watchmen" (or rather whether fans will take seriously movie reviews about it,) is
   whether the reviewer first reads and familiarizes themselves with Alan Moore's graphic novel that "300" director Zack Snyder's film is based on.  This
   may help with context, but it should never be the criteria for determining the legitimacy of a movie review or any other opinion about "Watchmen",
   which opened in several U.S. cities this morning at midnight.  One needn't read Shakespeare in order to enjoy or dislike film versions of "Henry V",
   "Othello", "Macbeth", "Hamlet" or "Much Ado About Nothing".  One needn't read J.R.R. Tolkien's books in advance to like or dislike "The Lord Of The 
   Rings: The Return Of The King" or peruse J.K. Rowling's books to have an opinion about the "Harry Potter" films.  Nor does one need read the DC
   Comics stories created by Bob Kane to either appreciate or not care for "Batman Begins" or "The Dark Knight".  You get the idea.  People who have
   read these books or comics and then see the adapted films inevitably tend to spend much more time (understandably) comparing and contrasting
   the film to the book and whether it stays true, instead of divorcing themselves from the book and giving what is up on the big screen a fair chance to  
   rise or fall on its own petard.

   So whether or not one has read Mr. Gibbons (illustrator) and Mr. Moore's graphic novel Watchmen doesn't save Mr. Snyder's big screen "Watchmen"   
   from being an epic gargantuan mess that runs almost three hours long.  The test is: does the film and its collective elements work overall as good  
   entertainment or not?  In this respect "Watchmen" falls short.  Granted, what is on the screen at times is impressive and on IMAX it will undoubtedly
   wow many, especially fans of Mr. Moore's novel.  But for all the grandeur and occasional phantasmagorical imagery, "Watchmen" is an amazingly
   hollow experience.  The film occurs in an alternative 1985 and tracks back and forth to the 1940s and through significant political moments in U.S.
   and world history in the 1950's, '60's and '70's, with tonal shifts indicated via iconic songs from Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and the popular Nena 1980's  
   tune ("99 Luftballons") among others, but it feels over-orchestrated, too forcefully constructed -- choppy, chunky and boisterous.  The film represents
   an attempt to seduce one into submission via its excesses, of which there are a few especially its violence, of which the faint of heart must be warned is
   graphic and bloody in the extreme, more so than any violence in the recent "Friday The 13th" -- and that was a slasher-horror movie. 

   Anchored by its detective-like superhero Rorschach (a great Jackie Earle Haley), whose sonorous narration is the film's strongest point, "Watchmen"
   tells the story of Rorschach's mission to piece together and uncover a plot to kill off the remaining legion of his fellow superhero team of Watchmen
   and women, once at their apex in crime-fighting and protecting New York City and the U.S. overall but wh0m to the public have become derelict
   and even fascist in their duties, especially one Comedian (a very good Jeffrey Dean Morgan), anything but funny -- a man whose inhumanity and
   viciousness towards women is barely exceeded by his ego and braggadocio.  There's thorough prologue on Comedian and other characters (Silk
   Spectre and Dr. Manhattan), with good visual effects notably the mask Rorschach wears.  When the action wears thin (and even when it doesn't) for
   the so-inclined among some male viewers there's helpings of sex, a little of it humorous.  Women who have oft-complained about a lack of full-frontal
   male nudity versus abundant female full-frontal nudity in movies won't complain here, even if for them Dr. Manhattan is a virtual reality image of
   icy-blue Silver Surfer-like proportions. 

   On occasion Mr. Snyder's film contains interesting themes and dissertations on human behavior and the American dream but these blips on the radar 
   don't save the film from itself.  Setting up the prologues, while necessary, took too long to jump-start Mr. Snyder's film and this is one of the main
   reasons the film falters.

   Thus the only reason to see "Watchmen" is "Little Children" Oscar-nominee Haley's performance (he gets the best lines of David Hayter and Alex Tse's  
   script), as well as Mr. Morgan's menacing turn.  Although the characters of Nite Owl ("Little Children" and "Lakeview Terrace" star Patrick Wilson) and
   Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman of "Heartbreak Kid" and "27 Dresses") are dynamic in visceral, bone-crunching action sequences, they cannot sustain
   the energy or vast ambition that Mr. Snyder pours onto the big screen.  "Watchmen" is in need of additional editing (William Hoy).  A respectable two
   hours and fifteen minutes would have made the film a tighter, less sprawling endeavor.  Though its production design (Alex McDowell) works well, the  
   visual juice and pulse of "Watchmen" runs out long before we are supposed to stop being voyeurs.

   With: Billy Crudup (Dr. Manhattan) and Carla Gugino (Silk Spectre) and a host of others.

   "Watchmen" is rated R by the Motion Picture Association Of America for strong graphic violence (be warned!), sexuality, nudity and language. 
   There's an attempted rape scene and other assorted graphic cruelties against women.  This film thoroughly deserves its R-rating and with a few
   less edits may even have been an NC-17.


 
 Related:  The Popcorn Reel YouTube Review of "Watchmen"

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