Rated R, 2 hrs. 43 min. Directed by: Zack Snyder. Release Date: Mar 06, 2009.
****REPOSTED FROM THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH ADDITIONAL COMMENTS AND EDITS****
"Who watches the Watchmen?" appears in several parts of the movie, and it seems to be a very relevant question for the movie in general. Like, really, I get that LOTS of people watched this movie, but I can count on one hand with some room left over how many people I know that liked it. What gives? For me, this was the superhero movie let down to end all let downs.
The movie is FILLED with problems for us layfolk who have not spent years obsessing over the much-acclaimed comic books and/or graphic novel. The alternate history causes problems all across the board, but does not attempt to explain real world problems they caused. Such as if we won Vietnam, why weren't we more aggressive in Cuba? Or, how is the presence of superheroes able to violate the laws that a president can sit in the Oval Office for no more than two terms? In the movie, Nixon presides over matters of the American state for approximately 12 years, and in one point of the "present" story line (1985), there are visible posters with Nixon's face on them declaring "four more years." After some additional research, I learned that in the "present" story line, Nixon was well into his FIFTH term as President of the United States, so I guess that clears up... nothing.
The background information is almost completely gone. The audience receives snatches here and there to help fill in moderate events, but we don't understand how the relationships between any of the characters have formed (for this, I imagine, one would need to read the books). We find our heroes in a legally-enforced disbandment, all attempting to shell out some semblance of a normal life. There is little discussion of how the relationships between Ozimandias, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, Night Owl, and Rorshach formed and were maintained in the years since the Watchmen were disbanded. We only know they used to work together and now apparently are friends, or at least friendly.
Super powers: Where are they? Of the entire cast, only Dr. Manhattan has obvious super powers. Arguably Ozimandias is ridiculously fast, not like the Flash, but just in his ability to move out of attacks. The rest of the team just seems to have attitude and ninja skills. Night Owl is a flagrant rip off of Batman, just swap the "bat-erangs" for "owl-erangs".
There is so much plot and counterplot here, some if it involving personality quirks and relationships that were not covered on screen, that it is occasionally difficult to figure out why people are doing what they are doing. There was also the question why Dr. Manhattan couldn't just make everything right, but that goes back to the weak discussion of super powers.
Finally, the last problem I had is with the way the filmmakers exemplified Dr. Manhattan's psychological separation from humanity. While the movie trailers show him wearing both conservative suits and a brownish banana-hammock, but the hard reality is he's generally hanging in the breeze. Literally. I got what they tried to do here, but being constantly inundated with his nudity was excess (and I'm not even going to talk about the scene that pans out from the guy's sphincter and exits in a rear direction). Dr. Manhattan is not the only nudist in the group: both the second Silk Spectre and Night Owl appear in various states of nudity, so I guess they felt the need to underline the sexually-charged facet of the comic book, although it wasn't really needed for story development.
The good thing about this movie were the fight choreography and the special effects, particularly the use of Dr. Manhattan's powers, were EXCELLENT. Comic booky without being ridiculous, these scenes were all very well done. The fight choreography was a little like the choreography for T.V.'s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so if you liked that, you'll like this.