WATCHMEN: Best superhero movie i've ever seen.
When I first heard about the Watchmen movie, I was skeptical—to put it mildly. In fact, I was indifferent. And when I saw the first stills from the movie, I knew, absolutely knew, it was a bust, that they were turning it into something gaudy and noisy and messy and dumb—what Hollywood does best. Beyond all doubt, “the visionary director of 300”—a mind-numbingly vacuous live-action cartoon cum commercial for Spartan warfare—would debase the material by catering to the lowest sensibilities of the mass audience.
But within ten minutes or less of the movie, it’s clear that something else is happening. The film, like the graphic novel, starts with the murder of the Comedian. The perfect pre-credit sequence, it sums up the delicate resonance of the story by both keeping to genre conventions (for an opening action set-piece and plot-starting murder) while adding a whole new layer of emotional nuance and poignancy. The Comedian’s weary acceptance of his fate speaks volumes. He has been waiting for this moment, and he’s secretly relieved that it’s finally come. If he puts up a token resistance, it’s only because he doesn’t know how not to. He keeps up his end of the mythic narrative to the bitter end.
This is followed by the lovely, eerie frozen images of the credits, by which flesh and blood becomes comic book image, or vice versa. The credit sequence is inspired: both delightful—enchanting—and wryly amusing, it lets us know that we are in good hands and can settle back to enjoy the most fully satisfying and morally complex superhero enactment in the history of movies.
The storyline is straightforward enough, but the peculiar blend of social realism with the pulp roots of comics, and the idiosyncratic, poetic, magical genius of its creator, make Watchmen utterly unlike any superhero movie, or any movie, we’ve ever seen before. It’s a freak in the best sense of the word: a creature of unfathomable beauty so unique that some people may mistake it for ugliness. It creates its own aesthetic.
What’s perhaps most unusual about the film is its complete moral ambiguity, the way in which it steps entirely outside of the usual mythic paradigm of good and evil, spins off a parallel reality, and weaves its very own mythic narrative.
Watchmen creates a new paradigm for the superhero movie. It’s a paradigm which I highly doubt other filmmakers will be willing, or able, to match, much less develop. There are no heroes in Watchmen, and no villains either. There are rather extraordinary (and extraordinarily flawed) human beings, struggling to make sense of a world in chaos, wrestling with their own complicity in that chaos. These are easily the richest and most affecting characters to ever grace what is ostensibly a fantasy movie. They are not just functions of the plot, as Neo and Morpheus are functions of the plot. As in all great writing, Watchmen’s story develops out of the characters and not vice versa. And these characters are nothing if not ambiguous.
Ozymandias, is driven by a seemingly pathological, philanthropist desire to save the world, and this he succeeds in doing. But we don’t admire him for it—we can’t admire him, because no end could justify these means. He’s an elitist, driven by intellect and a sense of his innate superiority, but devoid of heart. On the other hand, there is much to admire in the murderous vigilante Rorschach—who is all heart. His code of no compromise, his ruthless implacability, his deranged sense of justice, beneath which is a strange tenderness and a deeply wounded soul. Rorschach simply cares too much not to cause mayhem. Like Travis Bickle, his pain, rage and confusion spills out into the world—and he matches it atrocity for atrocity.
There are some minor flaws: the sex scene to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is something we could certainly have done without; perhaps more seriously, the extreme violence seems out of place here, largely gratuitous—it doesn’t add anything and may even detract from the dreamlike quality of the story (though with the Rorschach scenes a degree of savagery is probably intrinsic to the material). And sometimes what works in the graphic novel can seem mannered and contrived on screen (such as Night Owl’s question, “Whatever happened to the American Dream?”). Moore’s dialogue is self-consciously clever, loaded, and this works better when we can hear it in our heads and give it our own inflexion. Actors can be all at sea with these multi-layered lines. There are also areas, such as Rorschach’s revealing the abyss of his soul to the liberal-minded psychiatrist, that need more time to be developed, that are rushed and hence diminished, and the film would probably have worked better, been less choppy and more textured, if it had been allowed an additional ten or twenty minutes of screen time.
But despite these flaws, the sheer joy and originality of the source material fills every frame. It animates every performance with an exuberance, audacity, and poetry, that is unique to the genre.
Maybe now, Ill take take the time to actually read the graphic novel.
Watchmen has every imaginable reason to crash and burn. Yet somehow, against impossible odds, it takes flight.
Give me your opinion,did you enjoy it or not? agree or disagree?