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Thoughts on "Watchmen" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, March 09, 2009

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee. The caveat here is that if you're a major comic book movie fan or simply a 'Watchmen' fanatic because of the graphic novel, then you could justify paying full price for length alone - the damn thing is nearly 3 hours long.

Will I Own It On DVD: No. I was fine with viewing 'Watchmen' on the big screen, however, the film will lose effective chunks of its grand-scale set pieces when it moves to the small screen and it wasn't good enough to jusify another 3 hours of my time.

1) Among comic book or graphic novel fans, 'Watchmen' is apparently regarded as holy text, a genre-defining work that has been hailed as nothing short of a classic tomb that demanded to be noticed. I cannot be counted among that contingent as I've never read the novel nor am I a major fan of comic book movies in general. That being said, there are many examples of excellent films which have been made from this source material (The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Batman, etc), so I was interested to check out 'Watchmen' to see what all the fuss was about.

2) The story is set in the mid-1980s, and presents an alternate universe where Richard Nixon is still President of the United States and the entire world is on the edge of nuclear extinction due to tensions with the Russians. The Watchmen are a group of skilled yet also very human characters who wear masks while deliverying somewhat questionable justice. They depart from tradional comic book heroes in several ways as they still battle crime, but also deal with issues like impotence, boredom and borderline sexual assault.

3) This combination makes for an R-rated experience that combines occasionally graphic sex and violence with a prickly ensemble cast ranging from very interesting and charismatic (Rorschach, The Comedian) to bland (Nite Owl) and even the downright wimpy (Ozymandias). It also means viewers bear witness to the God-like blue presence of Dr. Manhattan (Billy Cruddup) strolling around mostly naked with his blue dick flapping in the breeze, a freqent sight which is never properly explained in the film.

4) The novel itself is apparently filled with elaborate backstories for its characters, and the movie tries to provide the audience with many of them. Some are interesting, others are not, but regardless, they also limit the dramatic effectiveness of the movie because pacing becomes an issue. The main story suffers as frequent flashbacks occur, which makes it difficult to sustain a rising tension from the threat of nuclear extinction.

5) With a running time of 2 hours and 40-something minutes, 'Watchmen' felt very, very long. Some films can justify expansive running times, however, I felt 'Watchmen' would have been leaner and more effective by editing it closer to two hours versus three. But it is far from a total drag as there are several interesting vignettes as well as some cool-looking visuals that keep the action moving along without bogging down entirely.

All in all, I found 'Watchmen' to be a competent, well-shot yet underwhelming experience. It deserves credit for taking a different perspective concerning super heroes yet if you aren't already a fan of the graphic novel, then I doubt it will win make you a fanatic.



  1. Heff Says:
  2. Thanks for the warning about the length of this film. I'm certainly not into it enough to kill that kind of time on it.

  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. You would think that for a movie with that much screentime devoted to a really nasty case of blue balls, there would be at least an equal amount of time spent on female nipples.

    I thought there was too much time spent on backstory and I sat there in the theatre thinking "Hello, is something going to happen." Then the movie dragged on for another hour. Darn thing just wouldn't finish.

    Not to say it wasn't a well-made film. And apparently it's damn near spot-on to the original source material. But this is probably a case where more stuff should have been cut out.

    And did you think that Dan and Laurie looked a lot like Clark Kent and Lois Lane from the 70s-80s Superman movies?

  5. Heff - This is perfect for you and the DISH. Ha. You can break for beers, bathroom, etc. that way & turn it off if you get bored.

    Whatigot - I generally agree with everything you said here & in your own post about it. Once the blue penis finally emerged, it never went back in its shell, so to speak. And I agree completely about the backstory elements, which were somtimes interesting yet caused things to bog down. Finally, that's an interesting thought on the Superman thing, I'll have to take a look.

  6. JLee Says:
  7. I was curious about this one since it looks very visually appealing, but sounds a bit disappointing. Like I told WIGSF, my friend rated it "3 Blue Weiners" haha

  8. Linda Says:
  9. All good points. I did not read the novel either, so I don't get the reverece. As a film, I thought it was technically strong, but a pretty lame story. The opening sequences and Jackie Earle Haeley's performances being the stanodouts for me. I wish they had explained why Dr. Manhattan was naked as well.

  10. Jlee - Visually appealing - yes. Story/character appealing - not so much. Your friends Blue Weiner review sounded pretty funny, although I'd give it closer to 2 or 2 1/2 BWs.

    Linda - You nailed it with the opening sequency/Earle being the stand-out pieces in this film. I absolutely agree as Earle was the only character I really enjoyed (Comedian was pretty good too)& he gave an very fine performance.

  11. Boxer Says:
  12. 3 hours??? Oh, so not good. I've seen long, GOOD movies that didn't feel long, but I'm not generally a fan. The Mister pitched seeing this over the weekend, but I didn't want to wait in lines. REALLY glad we didn't go. Plus, I'm not big on comic heroes, etc.

    Thanks for saving me some time and $$.

  13. Hmmm. I figured I'd wait until this one hit dvd racks, but maybe I should try to catch it at a matinee. Of course, if there's that much smurf wang showing, maybe I can pass altogether.

  14. nobich Says:
  15. Hmmm no desire to see this. Thanks
    for the confirmation.

  16. Boxer - With all the facts lined up from you, I think it was a good thing you pushed on seeing 'Watchmen.' Luckily, I caught a matinee on Friday and the crowd was small, so that helped a bit. But overrall, it wasn't worth much effort in my opinion.

    Native Minnow - I almost used a Smurf line right at the end of that sentence, and now I'm sorry I cut it out. Ha. Should have stuck with my gut . . . If you're going to watch it, then it looks great visually on the big screen, but DVD would allow you to pause, grab snakcs, etc., so it's really a toss-up. That's probably not so helpful, eh?

    Nobich - No problem - just wish I had my $7 back in my pocket. Ha. These things happen.

  17. I am not a comic fanatic but read Watchmen many years ago. Bear in mind it was written in like... '86? Alan Moore is arguably a genius and the graphic novel is worth careful reading and study. Movies based on comic books are usually crap, mainy because the media are so different and provide writers with different tools to do what they want. With a long graphic novel, you could put it down and pick it up tomorrow or something and take a week to read it. I heard they even cut a bunch of stuff out for the movie. There weren't any pirates in the movie, were there? Your analysis is probably spot on. I am dreading seeing it, no one likes to see the product of a genius cheapened just for the excuse to have some cool special effects.

  18. Miss Ash Says:
  19. Yeah I'm not into comic books/super heros at all so I'll pass on this one.

    Though I was just checking out Fridays post....what the fuck happened to MJ's face??? I know it looked odd but that photo is the worst one I've come across. Freaky!

  20. HalfCrazy Says:
  21. Finally, a decent looking review for Watchmen! I have already read some reviews and they are mostly positive but I would love to read more LOL.

    Just the setting alone would win me, I can't wait to download this thing LOL.

    Another one of those Zack Snyder films. Meaning some R-Rated stuff and lots of fighting.

  22. Getoffmylawn - Thanks for the thoughtful review of the graphic novel because I was hoping someone had read it. I'm strongly considering taking a look at it, and yr. ideas helped push it in that direction. I agree completely with your last sentence, however, I would say that the filmmakers seemed to really try to "do right" by the book, which definitely elevated this above empty, special-effects driven movies.

    Miss Ash - Then definitely steer clear of this one. And yeah, MJ's face is something so strange and alien-looking that I have no idea how it could ever look human again.

    Halfcrazy - Thanks as I'll take the decent review of the flick for sure. It's decidely (sp?) mediocre in my mind, although I'm not coming at it from a fan boys' perspective, so . . . And it didn't seem as violent as '300' to me, but definitely a lot longer.


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