In 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.
It's 1985 in an alternate reality. The Watchmen - comprised of the Comedian, Dr. Manhattan, Nite Owl II, Ozymandias, Rorschach and Silk Spectre II - are a disparate band of masked superheroes, modeled after the Minutemen, who were masked superheroes of a generation earlier, most of who are dead or afflicted by the ravages of life. The Comedian belongs to both groups. Despite the activities of the Watchmen leading to the west winning the Vietnam War which in turn has kept Richard Nixon in the White House, Nixon has now outlawed masks, resulting in the Watchmen disbanding and going into retirement, most hiding their Watchmen past under their human identities. However, the Comedian, in his human persona of Eddie Blake, and Dr. Manhattan - former physicist Jon Osterman who obtained his superhero powers through a scientific accident which almost killed him - now work for the government. Dr. Manhattan's powers in particular have kept a watch over nuclear proliferation, as he is able to stop...Written by
(at around 1h 55 mins) The computer in Adrian Veidt's office is a black Apple Macintosh SE/30, running in inverted mode on-screen. Macintoshes of the era were never officially sold in black, but a consignment is believed to have been once used by the National Security Agency. The program running is an early version of the Mac OS. At the time, these versions were still in black and white, and the production team simply inverted the black and white colors to make it look different. See more »
(at around 1h 20 mins) When Rorschach is tailing Dan and Laurie he VOs that they don't recognize him without his mask. At that point Rorschach considers the mask to be his actual face and otherwise consistently refers to the mask as his face. See more »
I'm 67 years old. Every day, the future looks a little bit darker. But the past... even the grimy parts of it... keep on getting brighter.
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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 »
The "Ultimate Cut" brings the film from its theatrical 162 minutes, to a whopping 215 minutes. Scenes include the expanded action sequences and additional exposition from the director's cut, even more exposition segments, and additionally interweaves the animated Black Freighter short into the story to mimic its role as the story within the story in the graphic novel. See more »
Let's get this out of the way - Watchmen the movie is not as good as the graphic novel.
Zack Snyder's Watchmen is not your average graphic novel adaptation. Unlike with 300, which was short and sharp and shallow and easy to adapt, the original Watchmen is incredibly dense and, as written, unfilmable. So Snyder did something very smart - he didn't even try. What he did instead was to take the world of Watchmen and rebuild it in a way which made a virtue of this new medium (film) rather than try to cram the graphic novel into a cinematic form.
Nowhere is this approach more obvious than in the film's title sequence. A wonderfully composed collage of images depicts scenes from the universe of Watchmen in a way which is only possible in the movies. In this way, we are subconsciously introduced to a world where costumed heroes are a part of everyday culture and brought, in a stylish and fluid way, from the original days of the Minutemen to those of the Watchmen. This introduction is cinematically perfect and is indicative of the heights which the Watchmen movie is perfectly capable of achieving but not quite capable of sustaining.
Watchen is a brave film for a major studio to make and without a doubt it would not exist in its present form without the success of 300. It is incredibly dark (both in tone as well as shooting style) with events that would be anathema to any other superhero story. The less you know about the story, the better so there will be no spoilers here but suffice to say Watchmen's version of a happy ending is a far cry from the Hollywood norm.
Snyders brings his unique approach to action to bear on Watchmen, expanding on the action scenes in the comic without making it feel too redundant. His efforts are ably supported by the incredibly game cast, excellent cinematography and near perfect visual effects - this film is incredible to look at but also manages to create an entire world in a way which most superhero stories never do. The attention to detail in even the smallest scenes is commendable and the dense flashback structure means the same attention is paid to the presentation of full and complex characters.
Snyder has made a film which is gorgeous to look at, agreeably violent, well written, wonderfully designed and features some of the best small scale action sequences ever committed to celluloid. But, naturally, not everything is perfect. Most of the performances are excellent, with a cast of relative unknowns who manage to distinguish themselves despite constantly competing with overbearing effects and design. Patrick Wilson, in particular, does great work with a difficult role as Nite Owl, while Jackie Earle Hayley is blistering as Rorschach. Unfortunately in a film which could have done with a strong female presence, neither Carla Gugino nor Malin Ackerman make much of an impression, despite having quite a lot of screen time. Synder's musical cues are another bone of contention - often pushing the tone of the film into the realm of parody. And the ending... well let's just say it cheapens the experience in search of the lowest common denominator and the whole package suffers. On a related note, neither of the stories major revelations are handled that well. These moments were genuinely shocking in the graphic novel but are almost glossed over in the film.
Don't get the wrong impression, Watchmen is a good film, sometimes a great film. Snyder has managed to make a movie which is a terrifically well balanced compromise between accessibility and fidelity. That anyone can sit down in the cinema and experience a distillation of the Watchmen universe in just 163 minutes is a marvel. It does not deliver the depth of feeling and connection of the novel but that is more a matter of the differences in the media than a failure on the part of the film.
On its own merits, Zack Synder's Watchmen is a dark and twisted tale peopled with complex characters whose motivations are not obvious even to themselves. It is a solid film, sometimes rising into the extraordinary, and deserves to be successful. This is not Alan Moore's Watchmen but it is a competent extension of the universe into another medium and a worthy cinema-going experience.
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