I love superhero movies. And I like them dark. I’ve really enjoyed the recent Batman movies starring Christian Bale. So when I saw the trailers for The Watchmen, I was excited. I’ve never read the comic book the movie is based on, and loved the idea of being introduced to a brand new world of brooding, slightly flawed superheroes.
In the recent surge of superhero movies hitting the big screen, it hasn’t been necessary to have any background whatsoever to enjoy these movies. And in fact, the biggest flaws these movies often have is spending too much time on character backgrounds, and not enough time on the action we crave. It’s a forgivable offense, they’re trying to make sure we’re all on the same page. Even the folks that are a little slow on the uptake.
Spoiler alert. What is written below may ruin the movie for you, or even convince you not to waste your time seeing this deep-dish slice of Suck smothered in a rich sauce of FAIL they call “The Watchmen.” You have been warned.
The character background was my first clue that The Watchmen was going to be a dreadful movie. Early in the movie there’s a montage that serves to give viewers the scoop on where we are in the movie. A moment or two into this scrapbook-y tour of the past I’m thinking, “Cool, it’s gonna be based in the 40’s or 50’s.” But pages keep turning and character quirks start appearing. OK, one of the heroes is a lesbian. That’s unique. Another is has Bruce Wayne riches, OK, that explains how they buy their nifty super-gadgets. The pages keep turning, and characters we’ve only just been introduced start being killed off or institutionalized. What the hell? By the end of the lengthy slide show, I’m more confused than I started. Who the hell is still alive in this show?
When it’s done, the introduction to the current characters is at best incomplete. You’re in for another long introduction to the “heroes” who are still around. They spend their time bitter and moping or wistful about a times past. And to make things even better (and by better, I mean much worse), almost none of them are active in any sort of heroism. Not only that, as characters, they are completely devoid of any of the altrusim and idealism you expect from even the most flawed heroic characters. Well before any real action takes place in the movie (aside from a fight with “The Comedian” early on), I came to the realization that I just don’t care about any of these characters, and hope that they meet the same fate as the Comedian. Sadly, even this wish is not granted.
The only character I came moderately close to liking was Rorschach. He was the only character who actually did anything for the first half of the movie. But soon, even he started to irritate me. His lengthy meandering bitter monologues, made me want to shout at the screen, “Shut the F*ck up already! We get it, you’re disturbed, dark and angry!” Thank god even this was inconsistent, Rorschach’s narratives were like much of the movie, just randomly placed and useless.
Dr. Manhattan, the only character with actual superpowers was completely unable to rescue this flop of a movie. And it’s clear from his long-awaited appearances in the movie that he didn’t much care either. He’d far rather look down his nose at humanity while doing some incredibly cliche hovering meditating on Mars. It’s just a shame he didn’t stay there, it really would not have made a bit of difference if he had.
The final insult was the end of the movie. My wife, who is still bitter that I brought her along, was nearly vomiting at the forced melodrama and complete ridiculousness of the premise. (Her tastes in movies are much more refined than mine, and this blow may send us to marital counseling.) I really didn’t care that many major cities around the world were obliterated. This Watchmen reality sucks, it’s just a shame the whole planet wasn’t blown to bits, ala Star Wars. What annoys me is that Rorschach was obliterated for sticking to his principles and the villain is embraced by the remaining super-zeros in an intelligence-insulting ends-justify-the-means rationalization. My guess is their next super-deed will be to enforce Eugenics and Euthanasia on people older than 50.
My guess is that the people who dropped this steaming, fly-covered pile of film on the public think they’ve authored a dark, complex masterpiece that imparts knowledge and inspires thought. I hate to break it to them, what this is is an adolescent, self-absorbed, meandering monstrosity. The only lesson to take from this nearly three hours of pain is that never hurts to read movie reviews before you part with ten bucks.
So to answer the question posed so many times in the movie by graphiti, who watches the Watchmen? People who have just been ripped off, that’s who. If this review gets to you in time, I’ve done my own bit of heroism in saving you ten bucks.
What do you think? Have you seen this movie? I’m curious if people who were already fans of The Watchmen comic book found it a more enjoyable experience than I did.