Watchmen is a 12 issue comic book that was written by famous god Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. It ran from September 1986 to October 1987. Watchmen takes place in an alternate 1985 where masked vigilantes have been outlawed. The story follows several protagonists and features an odd narrative that jumps from character to character, explaining different events in their own perspective. Global conflict with the USSR and the constant threat of full-blown nuclear war plays a big theme in Watchmen, paranoia and fear grips the people and something big is just around the corner. It starts with the murder of a masked hero, The Comedian. His death sets into motion a series of events, namely an investigation by the lone wolf Rorschach and culminates in the unraveling of the sinister motives of the villain(s). As it progresses, heros that have long been retired don their costumes once again to fight evil, but things are not what they seem, and they have to cope with either bringing the culprit(s) to justice, or instead choosing to preserve peace in the world. There is also a giant squid!
The movie starts rather expectedly. You've seen it in the trailers, a man attacking the Comedian while he's in a robe in his apartment. The fight itself (as with most fight scenes in the adaptation) is drawn out to provide more action to the audience. As the Comedian is brought to his knees, he is thrown from a window and falls to his death with the iconic smiley button slowly crossing the screen, then falling, leading to the opening credits.
The opening credits were done extremely well, coupling the use of a good tune and great scenes that seem almost stripped from the comic book. It fleshed out some backstory quickly, yet I didn't feel cheated. Think The Hulk's opening credits where the backstory was done throughout the opening credits so that there's more room for other stuff in the actual film. We get to see the original Minutemen getting their photograph taken, we see them fighting crime together, we see them celebrating and we also so their eventual demise. We get to see Mothman going insane, Silhouette and her female lover murdered, we see Dollar Bill with his cape stuck in a revolving door and shot in the head. As it continues and these old heros fade, we see the rise of the new ones: Doctor Manhattan, Silk Specter II, Nite Owl II, Rorschach, Ozymandias and with the inclusion of the now aged Comedian.
With the end of the opening credits we get into the meat of the movie. For about the first 10-20 minutes its almost frame by frame, and literally word for word up until the scene where Rorschach must tell the invincible man that someone intends to kill him. Extremely faithful to the comic book, Rorschach visits his old partner Daniel (Nite Owl II) who has since retired since the Keene Act outlawed mask vigilantes. We get a feel for what his character is like during this scene, lonely, almost a recluse, and as Rorschach puts it: a flabby failure who sits crying in his basement. Rorschach believes that there is someone gunning for masks, and continues his investigation while Daniel warns Ozymandias, who after retirement, revealed his identity to the world and became a billionaire business man. Rorschach likewise visits Doctor Manhattan, and this is where the perfect dialogue ends. During their meeting, some details were lost in translation. Laurie (Silk Spectre II) doesn't seem to hate Rorschach so much in the film. Whereas in the comic, he constantly gets on her nerves which usually ends with her yelling and screaming at him. In the film, she seemed irked by him but not overly irritated, and rather then have him teleported out of the Army base, Doc Manhattan does, much to Rorschach's dismay.
As the film progresses, fans will definitely see their vision of a live-action Watchmen come to life. When Laurie and Daniel are assaulted in an alley by a gang, the violence and action are fast and furious while an interview with Doctor Manhattan goes horribly wrong. We see what the Comedian is like in vietnam (and they didn't pull ANY punches with that, it's exactly the same), and even Rorschach's moment of insanity are faithful interpretations to the comic book, (with Rorschach's being changed slightly, with more brutal results). You get a good feeling of appreciation that the film makers put as much as they could from the original comic in, though some dialogue and some scenes were cut out, such as most of Doctor Manhattan's musings, Ozy's journey around the world and his eureka moment, and the absence of Captain Metropolis throughout the entire film. And when there is fighting to be done, it gets done in a nasty and I keep saying brutal, and i mean BRUTAL. The film is rated R for a reason, bones snap through skin, butcher knives cleave foreheads, buzzsaw cuts thru arms, people catch on fire, people get shot, women get punched, beaten and almost raped, etc. To say the film is dark, gritty, and no-holds barred is an understatement. The few problems I had in the film were minor, but here they are: every other scene it seemed like there was a 70's or 80's song blaring over it. I feel like the film makers relied on this a little too much. While it started to get old, it's nothing major to me, and the film is still very enjoyable. Another gripe is that some of the dialogue seems really forced, but thats easily chalked up to almost 3/4ths of the script being ripped completely from the comic book. Other will probably hate the way the narrative jumps around form person to person, but these people have probably never read the graphic novel, so those of us who have are expecting it.
Now on to the ending. I won't say what happens, but it was well known before the movie's release that it was being changed. The original's involved a giant psychic squid explosion, so one could see why that wouldn't translate well here. That part has been replaced with another, but with the same effect (and it's named the squid as a nod, which is great), and the confrontation of the surprise villain is faithful and pretty darn cool. Even Bubastis shows up! As the movie comes to an end, almost three hours from it's beginning, we get to see the smiley once again, on the shirt of a dude who has just dripped barbeque sauce on it. As the camera starts to slowly zoom in on a familiar journal, we get to hear Rorschach one more time, and then the credits roll.
I didn't sit through the credits so I don't know if anything was there, but below I've included a brief summary of some cool things, and some disappointing things, some of which, only people who have read Watchmen will get. The absence of the Tales of the Black Freighter aren't included, as they (along with Under The Hood) will be available separately on another dvd due out soon. After the film's release, there will be a special director's cut version that will include Tales of the Black Freighter.
- Rorschach's confrontation with the Big Figure.
- The Galle crater on Mars, which resembles a titanic smiley face.
- The squid being involved in a very little way, but still nice for the acknowledgement.
- A lot of faithful transitions from the graphic novel.
- The Flamethrower incident while aboard the Archimedes.
- The inclusion of Bubastis!
-Not So Awesomeness-
- Constant usage of music during a scene transition.
- Some seemingly forced dialogue.
- Dogs getting killed (it was in the comic, but its still not cool no matter how it's portrayed).
- Rorachach doesn't jump out of a fridge.
- No mention of Raw Shark (lol).
Hope you all enjoyed the review and I hope you enjoy the film when it's released all over the place March 6th. Watchmen runs just short of 3 hours and was directed by Zack Snyder (300, Dawn of the Dead) and stars Malin Akerman as Laurie/Silk Spectre II (The Brothers Solomon, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle), Billy Crudup as Doc Manhattan (Mission Impossible III), Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach (Semi-Pro), Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian (Grey's Anatomy), and Patrick Wilson as Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II (The Phantom of the Opera). This movie is rated R and features intense violence, blood, gore, harsh language, and suggestive themes such as sex, rape, murder, etc. Don't bring your kids.