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Friday, March 13, 2009

Watchmen


Watchmen Watchmen
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Starring: Malin Akerman ... Laurie Jupiter / Silk Spectre II

Billy Crudup ... Dr. Manhattan / Jon Osterman

Matthew Goode ... Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias

Jackie Earle Haley ... Walter Kovacs / Rorschach

Jeffrey Dean Morgan ... Edward Blake / The Comedian

Patrick Wilson ... Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl II

Carla Gugino ... Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre

Matt Frewer ... Edgar Jacobi / Moloch the Mystic

Stephen McHattie ... Hollis Mason / Nite Owl

Laura Mennell ... Janey Slater

Rob LaBelle ... Wally Weaver

Gary Houston ... John McLaughlin

James M. Connor ... Pat Buchanan (as James Michael Connor)

Mary Ann Burger ... Eleanor Clift

John Shaw ... Doug Roth


Watchmen Watchmen Watchmen
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Synopsis: In a gritty and alternate 1985 the glory days of costumed vigilantes have been brought to a close by a government crackdown, but after one of the masked veterans is brutally murdered an investigation into the killer is initiated. The reunited heroes set out to prevent their own destruction, but in doing so discover a deeper and far more diabolical plot. Written by evan murphy

"Watchmen" is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the "Doomsday Clock" - which charts the USA's tension with the Soviet Union - is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion - a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers - Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity... but who is watching the Watchmen?" Written by T-Hen

It's the 1980's and it's a different world. Superheroes have been outlawed, the only ones still in operation under direct control of the United States government. Suddenly, those heroes both still in action and retired find themselves targets by an unseen enemy, who wants to kill them one by one Written by Anonymous

A group of heroes, forced into retirement a decade before are called together once again to investigate the murder of one of their own. What they discover an age-old conspiracy to change the balance of power in a world not different from our own. Written by Kent Sanderson

An adaptation of Alan Moore's landmark comic book series, Watchmen is a story set in an alternative 1985, where the world is ticking closer to the brink of nuclear war, and a plot to eliminate a band of ex-crimefighters is instigated, but why? and by whom? It is up to two of those ex-crimefighters to investigate the plot that seems to go beyond the unthinkable.
--Written by Ruckwood

Their mission is to watch over humanity... but who is watching the Watchmen?"




Review: by Kevin Buist SpoutBlog.com Director Zack Snyder has succeeded in doing the impossible: he has adapted the “unfilmable” graphic novel, Watchmen, to the screen. While there’s no doubt that he has made the movie with surprisingly little deviation from the source material, that doesn’t mean he has made a good film. In many ways, Watchmen is a case study in the inherent differences between the comic page and the screen. Success on screen, even if the adaptation is faithful, is not guaranteed.

The story (in case you didn’t piece it together from the constant barrage of trailers and posters clogging the internet since last summer) revolves around a group of costumed super heroes whose fates intertwine with the events of the twentieth century. Set in an alternate 1985, the world is on the brink of nuclear holocaust. The action is set in motion by the murder of The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a retired hero with dubious morals. The outlawed heroes fight to avert impending doom, and spur to action the only one among them with the power to single-handedly save the world, Dr. Manhattan. Played by a blue CGI mock-up of a naked, impossibly ripped Billy Crudup, Dr. Manhattan is the result of an experiment gone wrong. He is the only hero with supernatural powers, which are inconceivably vast, and has become the lynchpin in the United States’ defense strategy against the Soviets. His powers have gradually separated him from the plight of humanity, illustrated by his failing relationship with Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), a sexy, second-generation heroine.

There’s a concern that the web of back-stories and sizable cast of characters could render the film inaccessible to those who haven’t read the graphic novel. On the contrary, I think the Watchmen virgins are at an advantage going into the film. Snyder covers a dizzying amount of material, staying true to the core of the original story even while making some significant cuts. For Watchmen fans, I think the problem is not the cuts, but rather the treatment of some of the material that’s left in. Hollywood seems to assume that comic books are ready-made storyboards, in need only of several million dollars of CGI to come to life. In many ways, Watchmen is a collection of examples which show why the formula is much more complicated than that.


Watchmen
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The opening credits stride through several decades of alternate history, showing how the Watchmen, and their predecessors the Minutemen, fit into American history. Rather than produce old-looking photos, or depict Dr. Manhattan shaking JFK’s hand in the grainy film of the day, a la Forrest Gump, Snyder sets up nearly still live action scenes. The camera pulls out of these mostly frozen moments, giving a nostalgic feeling of living within the photos. It’s a nice effect, but it’s also extremely fake looking. There’s something very odd about seeing actors you know were told to hold very still, like they’re faking slow motion. At first this really turned me off, but then I began to like it. As the montage went on, it began to feel self-consciously fake, as if these scenes are not depictions of the actual events, but rather glorified memories, existing only in the minds of aging super heroes.

After the credits, the film continues to make drastic jumps in tone and pace. Some of these work quite well, while others do not. About half way into the film, after being pulled in repeatedly by stunning sequences and shunted back out by unsuccessful ones, I found a pattern: the movie works really well when it doesn’t try to be an actual movie. Many passages, the majority of the film even, are a delight to watch. But when the film needs to slow down and just let a scene play, a scene which needs no visual flourishes but is still important, it seems bored with itself. A perfect example is The Comedian’s burial. Rather than inner-cut wide shots of somber figures gathered around the grave with contemplative close-ups, Snyder instead decides to use movie magic to make the camera fly from a tight shot of a stone angel statue back, back, flying over the mourners, cutting through the rain, until the camera itself passes through an impossibly small hole in a wrought-iron sign that reads “Cemetery.” Scenes like this made me wish Snyder could have somehow kept the entire film in music video mode, where it really sings.

For every dramatic visual improvement the film offers, there’s a lack-luster chunk of dialog that sounds as though the actors are reading the comic aloud. There’s plenty of voiceover, the filmic version of comics’ ubiquitous narration boxes, with Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), a grizzled anti-hero with a simmering contempt for the city he’s trying to save, each narrating portions of the film. Alan Moore, who wrote the graphic novel but has distanced himself from the film, penned passages that are now canonical in the graphic novel world. These passages are adhered to where ever possible, which works in certain scenes, but in others the translation to screen feels awkward. Some of Rorschach’s ponderings, which come off as masterpieces of noir prose in the book, feel hokey here. While Dr. Manhattan’s voiceover, with an epic calmness, makes his scenes some of the strongest in the film, due in no small part to Crudup’s stellar voice work.

Plenty of scenes are given the justice they deserve, but others, particularly near the beginning, feel like the abridged version. In particular, a dialog between The Comedian and Dr. Manhattan in a Vietnam bar, a key foreshadowing of the central conflict the blue demi-god faces, plays like a sped-up dress rehearsal. Ozymandias, a hero who has cashed in on his fame and turned his attention toward global energy reform, underscores the futility of placing humanity’s hope in Dr. Manhattan. If the full volley of Soviet nukes come, he explains, “even Dr. Manhattan can’t be everywhere at once.” Watchmen, as thorough an adaptation as it is, suffers from the same fate. It can’t be everywhere at once. In some ways, it’s too complete a retelling of the graphic novel, as it sets itself up for easy panel-to-scene comparison, making the film’s inadequacies that much easier to measure.

It’s clear that Snyder has found a kindred spirit in Dr. Manhattan. As Silk Spectre II distances herself from her big, blue, supernatural lover, she says a line that could just as easily be meant for the director himself, “You know how everything fits together, except people.”


Watchmen

 

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