Well, apparently the embargo on Watchmen reviews has been lifted. So! To answer the question I’ve been asked many times over, “how was Watchmen?” Here we go! There is no doubt about it, it’s epic. It is unlike any other comic book movie you’ve ever seen. And in honor of Zack Snyder, I’ve made this review R-rated. So deal with it. It’s more real, more gritty, and sorry Dark Knight fans, more dark than any comic book film we’ve ever seen before. In comparison, it makes TDK look clean and shiny. Now don’t get out your pitchforks just yet, it’s depth may also be it’s biggest problem. I’m not sure if the box office is ready for such a dark comic book film. But this is a solid film, not just a superhero flick. Recently we stated that we did not think that TDK was worthy of an Oscar nomination because although is was an amazing film it did not transcend it’s genre and The Watchmen does. There is far more emphasis on the characters, the background, the relationships than there are fight scenes (although don’t get me wrong there are plenty of explosions and special effects for you to enjoy). The Dark Knight, opened a door and now The Watchmen has stepped through it.
*** Some minor spoilers ahead for those of you who have NOT read the graphic novel***
Most of this review is based on the characters because that’s the way the film works. We move from one characters POV to another, looking at all of their powers and flaws until we get to one final question at the end of the film, which every character has a different answer for.
As for the casting, it was perfect. I loved that Zack Snyder went for actors that were right for the roles instead of the “biggest” names in Hollywood. My favorite character was the Comedian. And why not? It is so much fun to see a truly evil superhero. He made the Joker look cuddly. From raping his best friend because, damn it he could, to shooting the mother of his child point blank while she’s 8ish months pregnant because he didn’t feel like dealing with it, he does not have many, if any, redeeming qualities. He is truly fucked up and yet somehow remarkably charismatic. Thank you Jeffrey Dean Morgan (read exclusive interview) for somehow finding a way to mix those things together. It’s not easy to have a rape and murder scene, and still have women walking out of the theater wanting to bang you. Well done.
Rorschach, played by Jackie Earl Haley (exclusive interview coming soon) was also remarkable (and the line in the trailer where he says “the world will look up and scream save us, and I’ll say no” which is in the trailer, is far better in the film with an R-rated spin). His ever rotating mask was enjoyable to watch, but it’s even more fun when he had it taken off. He’s real, he’s gritty, and remarkably bad-ass. In fact out of all the characters, he’s the one you feel the most connected with. He’s just a dude with a lot of baggage that lives by a code. In the end, he was the character who I felt had the most heart. He was the everymans hero.
Dr. Manhattan and Dr. Manhattan’s penis were also very good. I understand the need for him naked, that he’s withdrawn from society and no longer needs to please us peons with clothing, but for the life of me I couldn’t stop staring at it. Bill Crudup‘s performance was amazing, he was distant, intelligent beyond comprehension, painfully honest, everything the character called for, but all I could see was his penis (especially when there were three of them at once!). He’s not like a Ken doll, when he moves it moves, and it’s mesmerizing.
Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II was my least favorite part of this film. She does what she needs to do (AKA look hot), but some of her lines, whether it be because of the writing or the delivery felt a touch too old school comic booky for me. “Look there’s a fire over there!” I just needed a touch more authenticity from her. She sure as hell looks good naked though. And when I say naked I mean NAKED people! Again, Zack Snyder decided to go for a solid R in terms of nudity. Her relationship with the Nite Owl was believable and I liked Patrick Wilson in his role, although he never really blew me away, mainly because that’s his character. Wilson did what he needed to do, and mainly came off as needy and dorky, except for when he was in his suit, which was pretty much perfect for the Nite Owl.
I really could have used some more Carla Gugino as the original Silk Spectre though. Man was she smoking and completely fucked up in the head. Perfect combo for a great character. There is one scene which I really needed clarification on, which is, how was her daughter created? We watch the Comedian beat and almost rape her early on in the film and then it is alluded to later that they “sealed the deal.” I needed clarification on how the hell that came about. It seemed like such an important part of the story, so one would have preferred a little explanation as to why Silk Spectre would go back and fucked him, instead of the cheesy line like “I never hated him because he gave me you.”
Bottom line, this is a groundbreaking film. After the credits role you question the film because it doesn’t give you any clear cut answers. It trusts that the audience will be smart enough to come to their own conclusions, unlike the Dark Knight, which spelled out the ending for it’s audience. In this film, the question really is, who is the hero? What is right for humanity? And did they make the right choice? What I loved about walking out of the theater is that everyone was debating who was right and who was wrong. Everyone was fighting over why Ozy’s point was better than the Nite Owl’s or some other combination, and I thought that was brilliant. A comic book film that you and enjoy and then leaves you thinking. Who would have thought!
That all being said, I had one main issue with this film and it’s a biggy – it was two movies mashed into one. Perhaps they were too afraid to green-light two rated-R comic book films because they didn’t know how it would go, but now that I’ve seen the film, it should have been two films. I would have happily sat through another Snyder Watchmen film. I can’t see how word of mouth, Internet buzz, and Dr. Manhattan’s penis won’t get people into theaters. The film is over 2 hours and 40 minutes and about an hour and a half in, I was ready for the final act and yet I felt like I could have seen more set up. I think there should have been one film of set up and one film of that happened as a result of the set up. Perhaps shoot them together and release them a year apart (we’ve seen that before). Yes some people would have been upset, but having two awesome movies is better than one good one. And I hate the whole sequel, cashing in on a guaranteed thing as much as the next person, but this film wouldn’t have been that, this had the opportunity to simply be a two part film, much like Lord of the Rings was a trilogy, not just one film with two sequels.
So. Now, you can get out your pitchforks and do as you will or you can check out some of the awesome picture galleries, TV spots, and trailers we have for you below…
Check out EVERY single Watchmen post from ScreenCrave or possibly some of the Watchmen cast history below:
Some ComicCon videos:
Bill Crudup, Malin Akerman, Carla Cugino talk about shooting on Mars:
The Joker asks Zack Snyder about the “dark side”:
The history behind the making of Watchmen:
Snyder on staying authentic and his favorite character, Crudup on his attire or lack there of, and Jackie on his character, :
Matthew Goode on his accent with Ozy and taking another “gay” role:
All the photos released:
And of course my three favorite trailers:
The Japanese Version:
The Full Length:
The Teaser Trailer: