Saturday, March 14, 2009

WATCHMEN: Alternate Side of Dark Knight

WATCHMEN (fantasy adventure)
Starring: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey
Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson
Director: Zack Snyder

Time: 163 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Akerman (as Laurie Jupiter), Osterman (Dr Manhatan) and Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach)

PREAMBLE: First, my apologies for this late posting of the review. As such, I will be brief and get right to the point: Zack Snyder's Watchmen is a bold and thought-provoking adaptation of the 1986 original graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. However, at 165 minutes long, the narrative tests our patience and concentration. Sometimes, it can be an exercise in toleration...

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Set in an alternate era of 1985, with Richard Nixon still in in the White House and the Cold War with the Soviet Union simmerimng, the narrative starts with a costume hero called the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) brutally murdered in his New York apartment. The murder starts a reunion of sorts for several of the Comedian's friends, who, before Nixon outlawed masked heroes - were collectively known as the Watchmen.

Trying to solve this 'whodunit' are Dan Dreiberg (Patrick Wilson), formerly known as the birdlike Nite Owl, his friend and ex-partner Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley, wearing a mask bearing an inkblot pattern), and the curvaceous Laurie Jupiter (Malin Akerman), who inherits her superhero legacy from her mother and predecessor, Sally (Carla Gugino).

The other members of the Watchmen are Laurie's lover, Jon Osterman, better known as Dr Manhattan, and the smug Adrian Veidt (Matthew Goode), who has now become a tycoon and dubbed "the smartest man in the world".

HITS AND MISSES: While unravelling the whodunit, director Snyder takes many detours to provide us with glimpses into the origins of the Watchmen and women, and giving us a tour of the 'alternate 80s world'. Yeah, Snyder renders the scenes like they were transferred from the graphic novels, with visuals of sawed-off limbs and dangling organs, and randomly cross-cutting to scenes on planet Mars with Dr Manhattan.
Indeed, many of these are spectacular, even to non-fans of Moore's comics.

We also get the Sixties and Seventies nostalgia both in the soundtrack that is packed with hits from singers like Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Leonard Cohen and Billie Holiday, and in characters like Nixon and Dr Henry Kissinger.
Best of all, I like the way the superheroes are portrayed as human beings bearing grudges as well as sentiments.

THE LOWDOWN: If you like The Dark Knight, catch this as an 'alternate viewing'.


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