As someone who only really became aware of Watchmen when the first trailers for the film were released last year I was tempted into reading the graphic novel over the Christmas break.
I hadn’t read a ‘comic’ in about 18 or 20 years and didn’t really have much of an interest in them but with the film version coming up I figured I would give it go.
What happened, as I suspect it does for a lot of people, is that I couldn’t put it down! I really enjoyed it and so my interest in the film reached an even higher level.
Watchmen tells the story of a group of former vigilantes, who discover they are being targeted one by one.
The story takes place in an alternate 1985 where costumed vigilantes have been outlawed for almost a decade.
The Watchmen consist of the following costumed ‘heroes’:
Employed by the government when superheroes are outlawed, The Comedian is a nasty piece of work who seemingly doesn’t give a damn about anything. It’s his murder that kicks events off to their dramatic conclusion.
Rorschach is the only member of Watchmen still active and fighting crime. He wears a white mask with a constantly changing ink blot to cover his face, is a brutal fighter and feels he needs to take a moral stand against the filth on the streets.
Nite Owl II
Nite Owl II is a lot like Batman, he has a similar style outfit and is more likely to use gadgets than weapons. The only differences are that he works as part of a group rather than alone and that away from the costume he’s just a regular guy.
Scientist Jon Osterman became Dr Manhattan when he was caught in an “Intrinsic Field Subtractor” in 1959. This gives him abilities far beyond what man can comprehend, let alone ever dream to use. He is also employed by the US Government and is dating Silk Spectre II when the story begins.
Silk Spectre II
The daughter of the original Silk Spectre and lover of Dr Manhattan – Laurie Juspeczyk hits hard and fast, using her smaller frame to launch herself at opponents. She became a superhero to please her mother but seems to relish the role when she steps back into costume.
Ozymandias retired when the law was passed and concentrated on his business under his real name: Adrian Veidt. He made no secret of his former ‘secret identity,’ in fact using it to boost his business with toy lines etc. Said to be the smartest man in the world and certainly the most public of the Watchmen following their retirement in 1977.
Everyone said Watchmen was unfilmable. I personally didn’t agree but thought it would depend on what parts of the novel were used as to whether it was successful or just a big mess.
And so late last week I made my way to Leicester Square with a couple of mates to take in, what was expected to be, a visual feast.
From the opening scenes with the death of The Comedian and the flashbacks to past heroes, I knew this was my kind of film and as far as I was concerned Zack Snyder had nailed the gritty, gloomy film noire style that the novel had.
This is a brutal film – there are broken bones, blood and an incident involving hot fat to name but a few.
The fights are well chreographed and while the slightly overpowered punches and kicks suited the film, I had always imagined the Watchmen as fighting normally – hard and fast but human all the same.
The CGI for Dr Manhattan is breathtaking and the whole look of the film was impressive, with Archie (Nite Owl’s flying ship) also looking great. The backdrops also had a brilliant style and it was a wonderful visual experience.
It’s obvious that this has been a labour of love for Snyder and on the whole he stays true to the novel where possible.
The ending is different and, although I suspect it would enrage fans of the graphic novel, I have to say I thought it was a better way to finish the story.
Of course, this was the theatrical cut so we won’t see his full vision until the director’s cut release on blu-ray/DVD. Be warned though, even the theatrical cut is almost 2 3/4 hours long!
The music used throughout was excellent, with the exception of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” being used over a sex scene – which was the wrong side of cheesy.
Watchmen was a great film with excellent special effects and a wonderful, if at times confusing, story to tell.
Discussing it with a friend afterwards he said he was worried that reading it first might’ve meant the film made less of an impact – I disagree, in fact I feel it gives it more of an impact.
It isn’t imperative to read the novel before you see this film but you may find some of the plot hard to get a grip on if you don’t. Not to the detriment of the film but enough that I’d recommend checking the book out if you get a chance.
This is certainly a film I would recommend to everyone – it’s not your average superhero flick, so it might not be to everyone’s tastes but they should certainly watch it and come to their own conclusions.