Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley
Storyline: A superhero has been killed and his peers try to solve the murder even as the doomsday clock ticks towards Armageddon.
Bottomline: An exhilarating celluloid translation of the iconic graphic novel. The soundtrack rocks.
Watching this movie was a strange experience as this reviewer was simultaneously reading the iconic graphic novel on which Watchmen is based. The experience was odd because it almost seemed as if the panels of the novel had come alive as film — right down to the bright, lurid colours of the book.
There was the Comedian meeting his violent death ending up on the road with his blood splattered smiley, there was the nihilistic, paranoid Rorschach wandering the seedy streets of New York with his journal entries providing a voice over that stitched the movie together, there was Dr. Manhattan, in all his blue, naked glory with that weird blue light functioning as a kind of virtual fig leaf, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre — they all had come gloriously to life in the film. Why the ending was changed will, however, remain an unfathomable mystery.
While “Watchmen” has long been said to be unfilmable, the movie actually makes for rather easy viewing. After having pruned some subplots, including the ultra ghoulish, macabre “Tales of Black Freighter”, the movie coasts along at a spanking pace, with enough bone-crushing violence, exotic locales (Antarctica and Mars) and great balls of fire to keep every action movie fan enthralled.
Fanboys are equally thrilled as most of their beloved novel, including dialogues, has been preserved. Whatever could not make it to the movie will be out soon enough as DVD extras. And if you just want to watch some exhilarating cinema, then Watchmen is the movie to go for.
The film, like the book, is set in America circa 1985, the doomsday clock is ticking closer to midnight and nuclear war seems imminent. Superheroes have been outlawed and someone seems to be picking them off one by one. Watchmen even works as a fairly serviceable whodunit.
Animal lovers will find the movie distressing and there is a dig at vegetarianism and fascism, the second this year after Valkyrie.
Saving the best for last — Watchmen features an awesome soundtrack. Apart from Simon and Garfunkel, Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen, the soundscape is bracketed by Bob Dylan. Just to listen to his “The Times they are a Changin’”, Jimi Hendrix’s version of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” or the mind-altering version of Dylan’s surreal saga “Desolation Row” by My Chemical Romance is worth the price of the ticket and then some more!