In an alternate 1985 where former superheroes exist, the murder of a colleague sends active vigilante Rorschach into his own sprawling investigation, uncovering something that could completely change the course of history as we know it.
A marksman living in exile is coaxed back into action after learning of a plot to kill the president. Ultimately double-crossed and framed for the attempt, he goes on the run to track the real killer and find out who exactly set him up, and why.
Selene, a beautiful vampire warrior, is entrenched in a war between the vampire and werewolf races. Although she is aligned with the vampires, she falls in love with Michael, a werewolf who longs for the war to end.
In a gritty and alternate 1985 the glory days of costumed vigilantes have been brought to a close by a government crackdown, but after one of the masked veterans is brutally murdered an investigation into the killer is initiated. The reunited heroes set out to prevent their own destruction, but in doing so discover a deeper and far more diabolical plot. Written by
"Who watches the watchmen?" was spoken by Aristotle responding to the theory of Plato about filakes (Watchmen) who will be the ultimate, infallible authority in the city-state. Aristotle said "Pios tha filatei tus filakes?" ("Who watches the watchmen?") to deny that theory. In the graphic novel, the phrase is never fully seen, being always either partly covered or incompletely written. In the film, the complete phrase appears at least twice, perhaps as the result of editing errors. See more »
The Phil Caputo book, "Equation of Evil" seen in Hollis Mason's apartment next to the television during the Rorschach/Patterson-Gimlin Film (1967) news footage, was not published until 1996. See more »
Gerard Butler is given second opening credit in the Ultimate Edition (on the fuselage of the airplane in the montage), due to him playing the part of the pirate in the 'Tales of the Black Freighter' segments. See more »
With 300, Zack Snyder had the problem of having not enough meat on the bone - Frank Miller's violent graphic novel was short and in-your-face, with director Snyder compensating by spending pretty much all of it's two hour runtime in super-slow motion. Here the problem is reversed: Alan Moore's unfilmable, complicated and very, very deep graphic novel seemed simply too dense for any director to take by the horns and be successful. Hell, even Moore himself deemed it so - so much that he disowned the film entirely.
Here, Snyder has two audiences: those familiar, and those who aren't. If you're the latter, Watchmen is a masterwork of literature, telling the story of a group of masked avengers who, since outlawed, live empty and lonely lives. When one is killed in his apartment, Rorschach, who dons the famous ever-moving mask, takes it upon himself to get to the root of the real reason for the death, but stumbles onto something much larger than he could ever have expected.
It really is a character piece. Each one, filled off-screen with complicated, articulate back-stories is brought to life on screen by some of the most heartfelt acting I've seen in a long time (save perhaps Malin Ackerman as the latex-wearing Silk Spectre II), particularly from Billy Crudup who plays the blue, often naked (and well-hung) demi-god who is the only superhero with real superpowers.
Although the star of the show is Rorschach himself. Despite being behind a mask for the large majority of the film, Jackie Earle Haley is beyond perfect for the role. His husky voice commands the voiceovers from Rorschach's journal (recited in many cases word-for-word from the novel), and plays the psychopathic, paranoid and immensely complex role with such a force that you simply can't tear your eyes away from him.
Snyder made himself known with 300 - the ultra-violent story of the Spartans who went to war (and lost miserably). However, Watchmen makes 300 seem like Mary Poppins - this has got to be one of the most violent films I have ever seen. All the book's action sequences are there, just bigger. More badass. Gory as hell. And, for some reason Snyder decided to place a porny, cringy 3 minute sex scene set to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" slap bang in the middle of the film. Sure, it was in the book, but it was shorter, and the soundtrack was most certainly not this poncy.
However, this discrepancy is the only gripe (and this is a very minor gripe) that I have with the film. It's hard to watch in places - a rape scene here, a pregnant woman killed there - and even pulls the heartstrings in others (Doctor Manhattan's backstory most definitely (almost) brought me to tears). The book is majorly complex, deep and meaningful, and in it's transition to screen, a lot of that is lost in translation. But what we get is a fantastically artistic, fast-paced action epic. Snyder was aiming for two audiences who are polar opposites, and comes free with an adaptation of which even writer Alan Moore should be proud.
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