I’ve been rolling this film around in my head for the past two days, trying to decide if it was good or not; if I liked it or not. My dilemma is that they’ve been pumping this movie up for five months, including telling us how acclaimed the comic book is, but it didn’t live up to the hype. That alone is usually enough for me to tear into a film. However, this is the kind of film that I would watch if I came across it on TV, so I’ve been trying to give it the benefit of the doubt.
This movie can easily be broken down into good and bad, which is why it’s so hard to categorize as a whole. That’s why I’m going to take you into my head and try to break this down.
The most obvious positive of this movie is the visuals. I was a little nervous about this considering it was coming from the same guy that did “300,” which was completely about the visuals. I was worried that “Watchmen” would suffer the same problem; its visuals overpowering the rest of the movie. Luckily, the director (Zach Snyder) was kept in check, probably because he realized he had an actually story to work with (unlike with “300”).
While we’re on the subject of visuals, I have to warn you about the nudity. Depending on what you like to see, this could be a good or bad thing. For me, female nudity is good and male nudity is bad. It’s not that I mind beefcake shots in movies, but I draw the line at full male frontal nudity. Especially, when there are FOUR of them in the same shot. And, they’re all blue. I am not making this up. On the flip side, the second Silk Spectre (female) gets naked a couple of times and she has a smokin’ hot body. It would be even better if she didn’t resemble Lucy Lawless so much. Then again, these scenes include a naked Nite Owl (II), who more than resembles a middle aged, overweight stock broker. Yech. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the worst (read: creepiest) is the sex scene between Silk Spectre and Dr. Manhattan (a.k.a. The Blue Dong). You think it’s going to be okay as you see two blue hands on a naked Spectre. Then, a third hand, followed by a fourth hand join the fray. Zoom out and blam! Four blue schlongs, which, by the way, weren’t even erect. No wonder she was pissed off at him. The only question left is if it was really his junk or just some CGI magic.
Perhaps one of the biggest problems with this film is the distractions. The wieners and boobs were just a couple of them. The worst one for me was Richard Nixon. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. In this alternate universe, Richard Nixon has been elected and re-elected five times. This didn’t bother me (much), but the makeup job they did on the actor portraying him seemed to get worse as the movie went on. I know it’s a small thing, but it was awful. To make matters worse, the portrayal was complete garbage as well. An alternate universe means you can change things. A writer with half a brain would have used Joe McCarthy instead.
The length of the film was also a big distraction. Normally, action movies never seem too long, but this one did for two reasons. One was simply the lack of action. Superhero movies are supposed to have action and two hours and forty minutes should be plenty of time to fit some in. This was a direct result from the second reason; too much time used for flashbacks, most of which did not add anything to the movie. Some people have argued that this was all for character development, but that’s not true. These flashbacks should have been showing us character arcs and relationship developments between the members of the Watchmen. At the very least, they could have shown us why Nixon made being a superhero illegal when they were the sole reason for winning the Vietnam War (don’t ask). Not only was this just another distraction, but was one of the major problems with the plot.
The plot was the hardest (haha) part of this film for me. The overarching plot was the typical superhero comic book plot. The bad guy is going to kill lots of people and the good guys have to stop him. The twists are what made this plot so difficult to like. The story started out making the audience believe that someone was killing off retired superheroes after the murder of The Comedian. This is solidified later when Ozymandias is attacked. We learn much (much) later that this is all part of the elaborate master plan to save the world (by killing millions of people and framing other superheroes). This is convoluted enough, but trying to fit in all of the little subtleties has turned my brain into mush. Maybe it’s just me, but a good tight plot wouldn’t have that problem.
I seem to have gone very negative, so here’s the best part of the movie. No, it’s not the visuals; I said that was the most obvious positive. The best part of the whole thing is Rorschach. He’s the guy with the sack over his face with the constantly changing ink. Unlike the laziness with the effects of the invisible man from “The League of Extra Gentlemen,” the ink on Rorschach’s face consistently changes for the entire movie. That aside, he created an unforgettable character with the same personality that we love about Wolverine. He’s the hero that doesn’t care about being a hero and does what it takes to get the job done. He’s also got the “I don’t give a shit” attitude that enables him to do things that morally guided heroes won’t do. You know, things like break bones and kill people.
After all that, I think the answers to my dilemma are clear. The movie is kind of good and I kind of liked it. In other words, it’s the kind of movie that I would stop and watch if it was on TV…as long as it’s past the multiple dong part.
Rating: This film is way too dong – I mean, long – so when you finally get out of the theater ask for half of your money back. Even if it’s a matinee.