Tuesday, March 24, 2009

REVIEW: Watchmen


Year: 2009
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

Watchmen was easily one of the most anticipated films of this year. When the film first aired its trailers over multiple theaters, people wet their pants. Not only was this famous graphic novel coming to the big screen, but it was being directed by the guy who gave us the epic spartan movie "300". From every new peak the studio released, the movie was beginning to look alot like the novel itself. Now, I thought the trailers for Watchmen were cool. I wasn't so hyped for it simply because I haven't read the novel or knew anything about it. I was alittle nervous that I might not enjoy it as much since I didn't follow the Watchmen universe. On March 6th, the film came out and scored a hefty $55 million on its opening weekend. With almost everyone at work talking about it, I just had to take a look.

Plot Outline:
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.

Watchmen is based on the comic book series of the same name by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The film adaption has had a rocky start with directors such as Terry Gilliam and Paul Greengrass on board the project at one point. Even film studios deemed the adaption too complex to tell. When the project eventually reverted back to Warner Bros. studios, the company brought on "300" director Zack Snyder to bring this popular series to the big screen. I wasn't able to read the graphic novel in time before seeing the film so I cant tell if its 100% faithful to the series. I did however, read some reviews and for the most part, it stays true to the series. The films plot is quite interesting and is really worth mentioning. It combines a film noir-ish style with some hint of mystery. It reminded me of Sin City and how the story/stories were told in that film. Its good, but also demands alot of attention. This ain't your normal superhero movie and everything is definitely geared towards adults. I'm really surprised on how Snyder was able to make this a hard R rating when its definitely close to an NC-17 rating. What didn't work for me in Watchmen was the films pacing. It felt really off and just didn't work well for me. Its like the scenes were split between its narrative and action scenes which we hardly get enough of. The films run-time was also an issue for me. I have said it before and Ill say it again. I don't mind long movies, but as long as the movie stays focused and doesn't bore the audience. For me, Watchmen felt alittle too long. I know Snyder had to trim the movie down, but I think he could have trimmed at least another good 15-20 Min's off. Some parts of the film tended to drag on alittle longer than they should have.

Patrick Wilson plays as Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II and he does a pretty good job at it. I wasn't sure an actor like Wilson was right for the part, but he surprised me. He had the right personality and made the character feel more human than he already is. Malin Akerman plays as Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre II and she does an alright job at it. I thought she fit the costume right and made a decent character opposite Wilson, but I'm not sure she was particularly right for the role. I would have loved to see someone more serious take the role. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays as Edward Blake/The Comedian and he probably gives the best performance out of everyone. He seems more relaxed and focused on his character. I really enjoyed his work on this film. Jackie Earle Haley plays as Walter Kovacs/Rorschach and he gives a mixed performance. At times, he was great and fluid, but their were also times were he felt somewhat off. I mostly enjoyed his work on this character, but It would have been interesting to see what someone else could have done. We also have Billy Crudup playing as Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan. He does a good job with the character and I enjoyed what a talented actor like Crudup did with such a bizarre character like Dr. Manhattan. I think he nailed the part for the most aspect, but I think people could have been better off not seeing his blue penis every time he makes a screen appearance.

The visual look of Watchmen is simply fantastic. The film has this film-noir style that makes the film seem much more real than it should be. Watchmen was just released a couple weeks ago so it doesn't contain much in terms of film grain. Their is grain present, but its simply an overlay that seems to make the film much more gritty and dark. Colors are somewhat hard to explain. Their are scenes of the movie where it feels like Sin City with its black and white footage, but then their are scenes that are vibrantly filled with such dynamic colors such as the Vietnam scene. Keep in mind that this is a violent dark film so I'm sure the coloring is all based on this reason only. Black levels are very strong and very inky. The darker scenes also hold up very well. Flesh tones are spot on perfect and always seem natural. Characters don't look waxy or artificial, but more natural. Detail is great and really shows alot of clarity in the image. I thought 300 looked great, but I think Watchmen is a slight step up in terms of detail. The environments and clothing on the character always seem to be nicely detailed. Watchmen is sure to please in terms of its visuals.

The soundtrack in Watchmen was a mixed bag for me. The original music was done by composer Tyler Bates who also scored Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake and 300. He does a good job scoring the film, but his score is hardly used enough. What really brings Watchmen down in the sound department is simply the choice of music that's being played through out the movie. The film starts off with music like The Times They Are A'Changin by Bob Dylan than later on we have music like Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. Then their is the famous All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix. Now these are all great music and I simply love all of them. Its just that these great songs don't go well with the film and really takes away the gritty/dark feeling that the film simply tries to dish out. While I may have not liked the choice of music played through out the movie, theirs little to be disappointed in terms of bass. Watchmen delivers some of the strongest bass usage I have seen in awhile. While the film may not be as action packed as 300, it still manages to rumble like no tomorrow. The action scenes trembled with bass and really gave an immersive experience.

Watchmen is a good movie that's definitely worth experiencing especially on the big screen. It stays mostly faithful the series and isn't your normal superhero movie that we have come to expect. Its dark, gritty and pretty darn violent. I enjoyed the story and still think its worth seeing twice to fully grasp it. I didn't like the pacing of the movie and its run-time could have been trimmed alittle more, but its still an entertaining movie none the less. The cast was pretty great for the most part and went well with their character counter parts. The visual look of the movie is simply fantastic and really brings this graphic novel to life. I thought it had some awesome color effects and was wonderfully detailed. The soundtrack was a mixed bag and featured some great music from artists such as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Jimi Hendrix that didn't go well with the actual movie itself. The bass is hardly anything to complain about and really made this film much more surreal. I think Watchmen is definitely worth watching, but just be prepared for a long movie that's got some problems here and their.

Grade: B-


micky said...

i didnt like the movie. it was just talking and moving around.

Jaccstev said...

I'm totally agree. Visual is the winner of this film but story is so complex that could probably be seen once or twice to figure it all out. The production and direction by Zack Snyder is noteworthy with cool special effects and cinematography that’s both dark and thoughtful.

watch tv said...

It is one of fantastic movie that I ever seen. The overall story is an exact replica from the book, with every single flashback in place and only 1 noticeable change towards the ending.