Saturday, March 21, 2009

Popcorn for One: A movie review - WATCHMEN


Wow! That pretty much sums up my reaction to the film adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic graphic novel, WATCHMEN. Director Zack Snyder finally does what others before him could not get done. Namely bring this book to the big screen and do it justice. Seeing it in IMAX probably added to my enjoyment, but I'm sure it would also work on the regular screen.

If you are familiar with Moore’s story you already know that it takes place in an alternate 1985, where Richard Nixon is in his third term as President and the U.S. won in Vietnam. In this reality super-heroes, have been around since the 1940s and were pretty much accepted until outlawed. Some have gone into business, or into other pursuits and some began working for the government in one way or another. When one of the more notorious members of the group called The Watchmen is murdered, another member believes that someone is purposely targeting ‘masks’.

That pretty much sets up what happens as we learn some of the background and origins of the major players. It seems the ‘good guys’ may have had their own share of dark secrets and might not have been morally much better than some of the ‘bad guys’ they fought.

Some reviewers didn’t look favorably on the performance of Malin Ackerman (Silk Spectre II), but I thought she was quite good. Her action scenes seemed believable and I thought she was equally as good in the straight scenes as many of her male co-stars. To be honest, I certainly thought she was better than Matthew Goode, doing his best David Bowie impersonation, who chewed the scenery as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias. I put Goode’s performance on a par with Julian McMahon who made Dr. Doom such a cipher in both FANTASTIC FOUR films.

On the other hand, a couple of the major male leads were extremely good and I would hope one of them gets a nod come Oscar time. If Heath Ledger brought the Joker to life (pardon the expression) then Jackie Earle Haley as RORSCHACH deserves equal credit. With his face totally hidden behind his ever-shifting mask, Haley has to use his voice and body language to portray what is going on. Those scenes, especially those in prison, where he can be seen are even more powerful. Patrick Wilson and Billy Crudup (Nite Owl II and Dr. Manhattan respectively) are both good, even though Crudup is computer generated for part of his performance. Hey, if a CGI- Gollum can get an MTV Movie award than Dr. Manhattan and his blue wee-wee are equally deserving of one. As The Comedian, Jeffrey Dean Morgan actually makes you feel sympathy for a character that is pretty unlikable.

By the way, it was fun to see Matt Frewer(Max Headroom, for those with good memories)as Moloch, a 'retired' super-villain. Even though he doesn't have a big part in the film his role is pivotal to the plot.

Finally, I think this film does as much to bring up the level of ‘super-hero’ movies as did the original SPIDER-MAN, IRON MAN and last year’s DARK KNIGHT. Just don't take any small children or elderly nuns, huh?

Folks who know me know I love previews. There were about a half dozen film trailers, evidently being released to IMAX. Of them, I know I'll be catching the new STAR TREK film, with fingers crossed and the second TRANSFORMERS film looks to be even more over the top then the first. Donna caught an ad for MONSTERS VS. ALIENS on television and we might both go to see that one. The next Harry Potter movie really looks as dark (even in the way it was filmed) as I remember the book, but the 'kids' do seem to be much older than the ones they portray at this point.

Save me an aisle seat!
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