Who watches the Watchmen?
Any comic geek-boy worth his Batman tee and an issue of DC Comics will tell you that this is the phrase that inspired the title for Alan Moore's 12-comic-book magnum opus, Watchmen. But the double entendre
that the question becomes with regard to this Zack Snyder cinematic catastrophe seems as perplexing to answer as the rhetoric that the novel sought to address two decades ago.
Watchmen is a movie made by a comic book lover, who went as far as Mars in staying loyal to, as purists refer to it, the greatest graphic novel of all time. What Zack failed to understand is that a multi-decade inter-planetary plot, which used the graphic medium to its optimal best in its book form, need not necessarily translate to a superhero movie of Dark Knightian
proportions. At best, the laborious attempt could inspire a spoof titled Zack And Dave Make A Superhero Movie
Watchmen kicks off all cylinders blazing, and, for its first 10 minutes, appears to be the Citizen Kane of superhero movies that all comic geeks and movie junkies alike hoped for. There's an intense fight, followed by a death, shot with the impeccable style that made Snyder's 300
a landmark project.
This is followed by one of the most impressive opening credits in recent times, a touch of Forrest Gump inspired flashback with Bob Dylan's â€œThe Times They Are A Changin'" in the soundtrack. It narrates the story of Minutemen, a group of superheroes of the '40s that inspired many of the present day lot. Some brilliant references, including VJ Day at Times Square, JFK, Apollo 11 and Andy Warhol's Factory, recreated featuring these superheroes, showing them to be a part of pop-culture, is poetry in film direction.
The year is 1985. President Richard Nixon is entering his 5th term after leading the US to a steamrolling victory in Vietnam, and the Cold War has led the world to the brink of nuclear destruction. The masked superheroes of America have been issued their VRS by order of the government, or invited to join them in their war for world peace. So goes the premise for director Zack Snyder's messy but often fascinating version.
Sadly, the best part of the movie ends there. As the plot reveals itself over three long hours, the momentum of the movie seems to struggle in meandering its way through labyrinthine flashbacks and subplots. Add to this a mythology of superheroes and their history, which is compressed over an hour, and you are left wondering why you chose to miss the 1213th episode of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.
Having read the apocalyptical graphic novel helped us immensely in writing this review. For the uninitiated, it is a movie filled with very interesting characters, who form the currently disbanded league of superheroes called Watchmen. The first is a psychopathic vigilante named Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), who nurtures a naÃ¯ve ambition of creating a world without crime. Being vertically and intellectually challenged, he makes up for it with his ferocity and ruthlessness. Easily the rock star among the group with his kickass attitude, literally and figuratively, Rorschach is the best explored character in the movie.
The other characters did have the potential for being as intriguing, but their appearance is limited by the loose ends within the screenplay. The movie starts with Edward Blake (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), whose case is as curious as that of Benjamin Button
, put to rest by being air-dropped from his apartment in a high-storey building. It is shortly revealed that Blake was one of the Watchmen, who, under the pseudonym of The Comedian, indulged in rape, murder and the works while donning the garb of a superhero. Following his death, he appears at various instances in the flashback.
Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) comes across as a by-product of Chacha Chaudary and Sabu. Faster than the Soviet's stockpiled missiles, smarter than any American supercomputer, and one whose anger can erupt volcanoes in Mars, this blue naked body seems to exercise control over all the affairs in the galaxy, with the exception of those in his bedchamber.
This introduces us to another insignificant character, that of the Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman), Manhattan's significant other of many years. Her best moments in the movie are when her lips are busy, locked in a kiss. At least that gives the audience some respite from her monotonous dialogue delivery.
There are some impressive performances from Patrick Wilson and Matthew Goode, who play
Nite Owl and Ozymandias respectively. Nite Owl is very reminiscent of Adam West's portrayal of the spandex-sporting Batman, while Osymandias is mostly portrayed in his real life alterego of Adrien Veidt - a flamboyant suave Bruce Waynesque billionaire, who makes a claim of being the smartest man in the world.
Why the movie falls flat is because it is peppered with moments that fail to elicit the emotions Moore played on as a virtuoso storyteller. As a result, the dialogues which are rich in political undertones are assumed to be pretentious, owing to a lack of a suitable background.
So, coming back to the question, who watches the Watchmen?
As we see it, quizzers, trivia junkies and comic buffs, and everyone else who'll find enough fodder for geeky conversations which will last a lifetime. If you are looking for an action-packed movie on the IMAX
screen, may we suggest Kung Fu Panda, which is still running hot. If you really want to know what the Watchmen is all about, we suggest you rush to the Odyssey outlet in Prasads
and book a copy for yourself immediately.