Who watches the Watchmen?

Date Fri, March 20 2009


I do. Or, I did. And I quite enjoyed it. It was visually stimulating, to say the least but it was more than just the special effects I enjoyed: it was the story. I had contemplated reading the graphic novel beforehand; after all, the trailer complimented the comic immensely but I held off and thought I’d let the movie help me make my decision. The jury is still out but it’s leaning toward “yes” (as soon as I finish Sandman, of course).

I would hazard a guess that most people who disliked the movie did not dislike it because of difference from the graphic novel; rather, they disliked it because it stuck too closely to the GN (which I have heard described as incredibly fetishistic). Ultimately, this is not a family friendly superhero story. Even as violent as Batman or Iron Man were, they were much more family friendly than Watchmen and I think people expected a superhero movie that came on the heels of such blockbusters would be. It’s what they wanted. I understand that, but it’s not what they got and I am pretty sure the trailer described it as a much darker type of movie.

If not, let me reiterate. The Watchmen is not a family friendly superhero movie. In fact, it’s not a Superhero movie at all in the sense of superhuman powers. It focuses on a group of heroes who were simply costumed cops who wanted to fight crime effectually. And as far as family friendly? The themes in this movie are dark, sometimes grotesque. From sex to rape, gratuitous violence to murder and even bordering on genocide, the themes in this movie are not those you would subject your children to. While I realize some of these themes seem pretty commonplace, the way that they’re done in this flick really isn’t. Plus, there are numerous scenes which feature full-frontal male nudity.

While I think the trailer touched on these concepts and I think it also impressed that this movie would be different. Just how different, I don’t think the general public realized. Disclaimer aside, I really did like the story which focuses on this group of once-adored caped crusaders who now seem to have fallen at the wayside and I was surprised at how empty the movie theatre seemed. The opening credits show how the Watchmen (formerly the Minutemen) have faded in and out of public favour, often depending on the political era. The masks and costumes are passed down, in at least one case, from parent to child who continues on the family legacy of crime fighting. Above all, the heroes are human and as such are humanly flawed. They make mistakes and sometimes they don’t do what would be considered the “right” thing which makes this movie much more a look at the human condition than a superhero movie.

As I touched on, I was very visually stimulated. From the costumes to the sets, my eyes never bored but it was more than that. It was more than pretty or interesting. It was enthralling and I think I cannot do it justice unless I let you in on a secret: it was hot. Watchmen was a very arousing experience for me. I also really enjoyed the special effects, of which I didn’t think many were obvious except for the appearance of Dr Manhattan which was very well done. If you’re unfamiliar, he is the bright blue, glowing man. I didn’t find any of the special effects to be monotonous, overdone or cheesy which is a nice change of pace.

Without going into too much detail, the Watchmen is set in a fictional 1985 where Nixon is still President and we are still engaged in a Cold War with Russia. The death clock has been set to 5 minutes to Midnight which basically implies that a nuclear war is imminent. It seems, in many cases, that humanity is showing its worst side, heroes included. And did I mention it seems like someone might be picking off these former American idols? Well, maybe.

So our heroes are brought together by concern of saving their hides. They’re a divided group who rarely talk on a frequent basis except to reminisce about the good old days over bottles of beer. But friendship, and sometimes more, seems to be rekindled through the new turn of events and some of the Watchmen even hop back into the superhero transport to try it out, just like old days. don’t except a reunion, at least not a happy one, however. It becomes obvious that someone or something isn’t as it seems and someone is pulling at the strings and it’s up to the Watchmen, divided or not, to figure it out.

Although my style of writing became a little cliche. I did not find that the movie did. I also didn’t find that it had a really happy ending but the ending, just like the rest of the movie, was incredibly human and real. If you crave family friendly fun or a happy ending, then this movie is not for you. If you appreciate visual art displaying dark and adult themes such as sex and violence, I would give Watchmen a try.

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