‘Watchmen’ deserves all the hype

Chris Kallio

Zack Snyder creates a beautiful yet ugly adaptation of famous graphic novel

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Credit: DKS Editors

READ an interview with director Zack Snyder.

“Watchmen,” the highly anticipated and years-in-the-making epic, is finally here and is undoubtedly the first hit of 2009. An unusual pick for the month of March, it is nevertheless a fascinating and immensely enjoyable movie.

INFOBOX Real quick:


starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup,

Matthew Goode

Directed by Zack Snyder

Distributed by Warner Bros.

Rated R Runtime 163 mins.

Stater rating (out of five): ★★★★ & 1/2

The film takes place in an alternate America of 1985. The Cold War seems to be getting hotter, and Richard Nixon is re-elected to a third term (quite a frightening farce in itself). A group of heroes, or Watchmen, has fallen out of the prominence of a world that seems not to need them.

The Watchmen – Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) and The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) – find themselves in a world where heroism is a dying breed, so much so that one of their members is killed (in a stylistic scene set to Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable”), sparking a reuniting of the remaining members and an investigation into the murder.

The movie, aside from its content, is fascinating in its details. Engulfed in dominant and extravagant hues, it provides a unique retrospective look of the 1980s in a far more unique fashion than any VH1 show. Hollywood has not yet rid itself of its fascination with Nixon, and while Frank Langella’s portrayal may be more accurate, this one is a bit more fun, indulging in the ridiculous characterizations of Tricky Dick that will probably never go away.

Not since “Forrest Gump” has the baby boomer generation been so scrutinized and celebrated: JFK, his assassination, Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Fidel Castro, “99 Luftballons,” the Vietnam War (through an “Apocalypse Now”-esque rendition) and more are featured. Not since “Taxi Driver” has there existed such a sense of pessimism and gloom on the screen. Not even two weeks after the Oscars honored movies about hope, determination, perseverance and comebacks, Hollywood has brought us this dark tale.

For all the film’s extraordinary elements, it certainly possesses its share of flaws. There are moments of sophomoric silliness, similar to Zack Snyder’s previous film,”300.” “Watchmen” is quite gratuitous in virtually every aspect, especially violence; it is disgustingly, disturbingly and unnecessarily violent. And its nearly three-hour run time is asking a lot from the audience. Perhaps Roger Ebert’s rule that no good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough does not apply here because Snyder surely could have omitted several scenes.

But these flaws should not overshadow the success of “Watchmen,” for the movie will be quite successful. Snyder has created a beautiful, yet ugly motion picture, choreographing almost everything effectively.

Contact all reporter Chris Kallio at [email protected].