My Doomsday Clock Hit Midnight About 45-Minutes Into “Watchmen”
Zach Snyder is a director who has achieved a lot of fame and success at a very early point in his career. This is really all based on “300”, an action movie worshipped by comic book fanboys. This has led to the unbelievable hype of Snyder’s adaptation of one of the most revered graphic novels of all time, “Watchmen”. If you think it is impossible for a movie to live up to its own hype, I urge you to once more watch “The Dark Knight”. If you want to see the opposite of living up to the hype, go see “Watchmen”.
“Watchmen” is a boring beating of a movie. I have taken one day to think about it, just to see if I can come up with something I really dug about the movie. There are two things that I liked, both being due to the actors. Other than that, nothing. Nada. Zilch.
The first failed bit in “Watchmen” is its supposed political commentary. The problem I have with this movie is the same problem I have with the movie “Syriana”. The creators of these works have completely fictionalized an entire era. In “Watchmen”‘s case, we have somehow won the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon is still President in 1985, among other historical liberties. Altering history that radically sure makes it easy to get your point out there. None of that really matters because the political argument here is a tired one. “These liberals are too left wing and these conservatives are too right wing“…yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before. So…the politics of “Watchmen”? Failed.
How about the acclaimed visual style of Zach Snyder? Here is how Snyder stylizes every single action sequence: Lengthy close up of actor followed by a slow motion punch/kick that ends with sped up film on contact of said punch/kick. The opening scene of the movie was probably the best sequence in the movie. It featured the murder of The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), which sets off the basic whodunit plot. It’s a particularly brutal fight and it was pretty slick. After that, the Snyder action formula gets tired real quick.
The majority of the story is told in flashbacks. We learn about a team of superheroes that were enlisted by the U.S. Government. All of them are regular folks, a la Batman, except one. His name is Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) and he was bombarded with radiation…or gamma rays…or something that made him turn blue. I am still a bit unclear on it but it did leave him without the desire to cover his penis. There has been much made from the blue wanger in “Watchmen” and it is safe to say that it is a bit distracting.
Dr. Manhattan is working with the smartest man alive, Ozymandius (Matthew Goode), on a device designed to keep the two world powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, from using nuclear weapons against each other. At one point, Ozymandius fights off an assassination attempt but seems to be able to dodge bullets. This is quite confusing because we are led to believe that Dr. Manhattan is the only person on Earth with actual super powers.
We also meet Laurie Jupiter (Malin Akerman), who is living with Dr. Manhattan and his ever-present garbage. She is bored with Dr. Manhattan as he becomes more and more God-like and detached from society, which in “Watchmen” means more and more boring. She leaves him for Dan (Patrick Wilson), who used to be the Nite Owl. One night, Laurie and Dan go out in the costumes and save some people from a burning building. This gets them very excited and we are treated to what amounts to soft-core pornography. Oddly enough, I think this sex scene was supposed to be very emotionally uplifting. Instead, it was creepy and uncomfortable. Thank goodness Snyder didn’t use the slo-mo-speed-up technique then.
Sound like a lot to cram into one movie? It is. In fact, there is so much to cram in that it seemed rushed and the movie is 163 minutes long. To make matters worse, there is much more dialogue than action, most of which is from Dr. Manhattan. Billy Crudup is a fine actor but not even he could save us from the philosophizing beating of his character.
So, the two things that I did like? Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s The Comedian for sure. The Comedian was a sociopathic nut disguised as a hero that helped Dr. Manhattan during the Vietnam War. Morgan definitely had a good time as a cigar chomping nut and he actually has a few of the only thought provoking lines in the movie. He was completely repulsive and likable at the same time.
Of course, it is impossible to dislike Jackie Earle Haley as Rorshach. He easily has the most interesting role and he plays it pitch perfect. Rorshach is a vigilante whose mask constantly changes images, which is the coolest effect in an effect heavy movie. Haley growls more than Christian Bale as Batman and he also toes the line of law enforcement and vigilante justice.
I wanted to like “Watchmen” but it simply bored me to tears. It is too long, too wordy, and, once the movie takes the heroes to Antarctica or the North Pole or wherever, it goes into full out silliness. It even comes complete with the Bond villain monologue. You know, when the master bad guy explains his evil plan? Yeah, it’s got that.
Lastly, Malin Akerman is flat out awful. Cringe awful. She is so distracting that it doesn’t even matter that she was wearing skin tight latex…which shows just how bad she truly is.