March 6, 2009 Watchmen
Studio: Warner Bros. Rating: R for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and language.
Its source material was named one of the best books of the last 100 years by "Time" magazine. The fact that it was a comic book apparently didn't affect the judges.
"Watchmen" tells the story of an alternate earth. Set in 1985, President Richard Nixon is in the midst of his 5th term, nuclear tensions with the Soviet Union are sky high and superheroes are real.
Although only one member of the group has any powers, the people who wear the masks meet to talk about banding together to make a difference. However, not everyone is on the same page leading to major differences about how to proceed.
The film's main plot centers around the murder of a hero and the subsequent investigation that discovers an even bigger conspiracy. But the threat of nuclear annihilation hangs over the proceedings throughout the story.
Chances are unless you've read the comic book you've never heard of these heroes.
The sexy Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman), the computer-generated and godlike Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), the enigmatic Rorschach (Jackie Earle Hailey), the world's smartest man Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), the cruel and sadistic Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the gagdet-savvy Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) make up the Watchmen.
Probably the best known member of the cast is Carla Gugino. She's the original Silk Spectre, whose daughter is following in her crime fighting footsteps.
Thanks to their performances and the solid writing, "Watchmen" is probably the most realistic portrayal of superheroes ever put on film.
Outlawed and past their prime, the crimefighters must somehow get past their own failings and weaknesses to try and solve a murder and save the world.
The standout performances here belong to Hailey and Morgan. Their sociopathic characters believe that the ends justify any means. That means they're willing to cross all lines to deliver their brand of justice. Wilson is also very good as the doubt-plagued Nite Owl. He's a Batman-type hero without Bruce Wayne's strength of character.
This is a dense, dialogue-heavy with sporadic bursts of graphic violence. But the movie remains mostly true to its source material. That is both good and bad. The graphic novel was so complex it's difficult to get everything onscreen. But director Zack Snyder does his best, and even though there are moments of clunky lines and stiff acting, "Watchmen" is an overall victory.
It's a smart, gritty superhero movie with very little black and white.
On my rating scale, "Watchmen" earns a TRIPLE.
BONES Tonight at 8:00 PM The Tiger in the Tale
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