Thursday, March 5, 2009

Watchmen is not your ordinary Fanboy popcorn flick: A Review & Spoilers



Thanks to my Hollywood hook-ups (aka MCAS Miramar), I got the chance to catch a special showing of Watchmen this past Sunday, so for the time being I get to play the role of a hard-to-please movie critic.

Watchmen, however, did not disappoint one bit. I had never come across the comics/graphic novel before, but even as a standalone product, the film easily turned me into a fan. After watching one of the greatest movie trailers back in July during The Dark Knight, and after a long wait as the release date kept getting pushed back, Watchmen nevertheless lived up to all the fanboy hype and much more.


Be prepared, though, for a lot of slasher-esque violence you typically found in horror films, with limbs getting chopped off, skin melting, people getting vaporized and exploding into gory bits and pieces – lots of fun stuff. Be also prepared for a lot of nudity, as the Blue Man Group (Dr. Manhattan) decides to spend most of the movie fully exposed and casually showing off their glowwatchmen_comicing goods. The main female character in the movie, Silk Spectre, takes her clothes off too, so I guess that balances things out for those of you worried about two hours of blue dick on screen.

Those issues aside, I wouldn’t actually consider Watchmen your standard “comic book movie,” like what has been popular in Hollywood for some time now (i.e. Fantastic Four, Transformers, Ironman), or at least in a general fanboy sense. Sure, it includes plenty of fanboy elements that would please any theater full of nerds – lots of fight scenes, sex, explosions, cool superhero costumes – but in reality, Watchmen deals with much more serious and mature themes that makes it way more sophisticated than the average ‘origin-of-superhero-to-defeating-villain’ formula.

War, propaganda, politics, crime, morality; even more interesting is how the Watchmen story re-imagines and deconstructs the whole superhero genre, creating an alternate history where costumed vigilantes exist in society and explores how they deal with real-world issues. (If a bunch of guys decide to disguise themselves and rob a bank, why can’t someone decide to dress up themselves and stop them?) The Watchmen universe is just as interesting, set in a 1985 America where Nixon is still President, the war in Vietnam lasted only one week (thanks to Dr. Manhattan.) and is now the 51st State, and Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union is about to reach its breaking point.

What I also really enjoyed about Watchmen was how it featured an ensemble cast of “superheroes,” and the ambiguity that came with attempting to define the true protagonist and antagonist of the storyline – especially at the end of the film, as the audience gets to decide who they relate to more, and there really is no right or wrong position to take. (Sort of like the set-up of the Iliad/Troy, and how you could argue “Achilles/Brad Pitt is the shit – No way man, Hector/Eric Bana is way cooler,” etc.)

This is probably what makes Watchmen such a good film and separates it from all the other comic book movies out there; by already having a complex, quality narrative anchoring it, the people making the film version of it would really have to fuck up to make it suck.

Of course, not taking away from the work of director Zack Snyder (300) and his crew, as his often surreal visual style seemed like a perfect fit for the premise and setting of Watchmen. The CGI and action scenes were on point, and while the acting was a little dry at times, the cast still played their roles well enough to highlight the distinct qualities of each of their characters. I also thought the use of popular music throughout the film was done quite nicely, with some pre-emo and hippie 60’s music thrown into the mix like Simon & Garfunkel and Janis Joplin. I would even consider the opening credits my favorite part of the movie, as a montage setting up the alternate history of the Watchmen world is shown, with Bob Dylan - The Times They are a-Changin’ playing in the background, all to great effect.

Hopefully, even with all the fanboy hype, positive reactions to Watchmen will help reshape the current stereotypes of comic books and the superhero genre, inspiring new possibilities and spurring more interest in similar, lesser known comics of its nature. Regardless, Watchmen simply reminds me why films are truly the art form of today and the future.

“The Superman exists, and he is American.”


  1. I can't wait, going tonight at midnight!

  2. lol you get a 3 hour head start on everyone back home

  3. im so excited for me and floyd's man-date tonight, hahaha.

  4. i don't know, but i swear when the blue man group showed up, some were more well endowed than the others. yes homo.

  5. lol, well i was wondering if that was really billy crudup's dong or if it was completely cgi.

  6. These are the manly thoughts that come to mind when watching this movie.