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
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
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
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
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
wow many, especially fans of Mr. Moore's novel. But for all
the grandeur and occasional phantasmagorical imagery, "Watchmen" is an
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
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
"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
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
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
versus abundant female full-frontal nudity in movies won't complain
here, even if for them Dr. Manhattan is a virtual reality image of
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)
Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman of
"Heartbreak Kid" and "27 Dresses") are
dynamic in visceral, bone-crunching action sequences, they cannot
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,
visual juice and pulse of "Watchmen" runs out long before we are supposed to stop
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
less edits may even have been an NC-17.
The Popcorn Reel YouTube Review of "Watchmen"
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All Rights Reserved.