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 uncover a sinister plot that puts all of humanity in grave danger.
The comic book geek blockbuster for adults only.
Watchmen is directed by Zack Snyder and adapted to screenplay by David Hayter and Alex Tse from the Alan Moore/David Gibbons graphic novel. It stars Patrick Wilson, Malin Ackerman, Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Carla Gugino and Matt Frewer. Music is by Tyler Bates and cinematography by Larry Fong.
1985 and someone is killing all our superheroes. Time for the remaining super heroes to band together - but what they find as they fight the good fight is potential annihilation for everyone.
It was quite a battle getting Watchmen onto the screen, over twenty years of legal wrangling and controversies, it got to the point where fans of the source material doubted it would ever happen - and even if it did it was sure to be a monstrous failure. How pleasing to find that not only did it make it to the screen, but it is also a genre bending winner - well to some of us of course...
One has to take into context just how potent and original the graphic novel was back in 1986/7, we are dealing with very mature themes, superheroes with serious psychological baggage. Alan Moore lit the touch paper in the comic book kingdom that the rest have since followed to keep the torch burning well into the new millennium. Snyder has achieved top line results in getting both the feel and look of the source, even if some of Moore's cunning cynicism has been lost in translation.
Story is set right in the middle of nuclear paranoia and the fear of the Soviets in 85, the America we view is dank and depressing, noirish in vibe (aided by Rorschach's clobber and detective inclinations), it's a world on the road to nowhere. We are also at a time in the alternate world where superheroes are banned from operating, forcing The Watchmen to become vigilantes - that is if they can get along and shunt their psycho discord to one side. The back stories of the main protagonists are fully formed, and these are not jolly characters, so much so you worry the fate of mankind is doomed if these are who we rely on to save us.
There was in no way that Snyder would be able to produce a comic book filmic adaptation that would be as worshipped in that sphere, to rival that of the worship the novel has in its own. However, coming at it as someone who only sought out the source material after seeing the film, it shines bright for newcomers who are ironically seeking darker tints in superhero tales. Oh it has the requisite nifty twists (a clinical mystery to be unearthed), booming visuals, excellent effects work and smartly constructed action set-pieces, but narratively it's moody and calls for the utmost attention on dialogue passages (I have found it gets better on repeat viewings).
Snyder clearly cared about the project and that love is evident in the movie. It was never going to appease all and sundry, but at worst to hardcore Moore fans it's at least an honourable failure, to many others it's a smart and stylishly refreshing genre booster. 8/10
DC Comics, Lawrence Gordon Productions, Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount, Cruel & Unusual Films by Zack Snyder, David Hayter, Alex Tse, Dave Gibbons, Alan Moore.
Stars: Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Malin Akerman.
Genres: Action, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Keywords: nuclear war usa president dc comics secret identity mass murder soviet union narration retirement based on comic conspiracy animated scene doomsday masked vigilante doomsday clock red square death of superhero 1980s
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