Suffice to say, but every comic book-reading teen from the Eighties has read this ground-breaking Graphic Novel. Calling that masterpiece a “graphic novel” isn’t enough – even saying that sounds lame. “Watchmen” changed the landscape of comics forever. It was all thanks to Alan Moore, the author. This was not Superman or Spider Man. These were new heroes, and not quite what you’d expect heroes to be or even look like. Oh, the immediate comparison of Night Owl to Batman is apparent, but what else seems the same? Not much.
So, this book (let’s just call it that) comes out in 1986 and it spelled the end of an era. Comics at that point were pretty bright and colorful and the climate was changing much more so than the comic book companies were aware of. “Watchmen” broke the image of comics for all time. Frank Miller would continue this trend in his brilliant work “The Dark Knight Returns”. Suddenly comics that had not accepted the darker storylines and imagery stirred up by the eighties themselves found themselves with disillusioned readers and low sales.
The teens of the eighties demanded more of their comics. The artwork was much improved from the seventies and a lot of talent was springing up all over the world. However, the storylines were suffering. We, that teenage crowd of the day, wanted darker heroes – and mostly it was because we were seeing the world without blinders. The reason for that change: Alan Moore’s work called “Watchmen”. Folks, there was an underground movement years ago involving a smiley face button with a drop of blood on it. Nobody that had one explained it: we just assumed if you knew, you KNEW. Moore had crippled the sugar-coated view of the world, and believe it or not, a lot of teens listened and read intently. We understood.
Yes, I was one of “those” kids. I still have my bloodstained smiley face button from back in “the day”.
So, of course I had to re-read the whole story prior to going to see the movie. Folks, you don’t need to read this story prior to seeing the movie. It’s ALL in there. For those of you who were fans back in the eighties of this “comic book”, the wait was worth it. This is a dark film. There isn’t a happy ending. The true hero of the story kills criminals without mercy – at least that’s my opinion. There’s sex, rape, murder, brutal scenes of grotesque violence, naked blue men, and some very disturbing imagery. Realistically, this film should be a NC-17 rating.
There are 3 actors whom you may recognize in this film, but for the most part they are unknown. At least, they were to me. They are perfect for their roles! So, the casting is top notch, which really helps a film like this one. The actor who plays Rorschach is brilliant – of course, the role is just written that way. None the less, the portrayal is flawless! Even Moloch and Hollis were well cast parts, fulfilling all readers’ dreams and wishes.
The imagery was ripped straight from the panels of the comic, which makes the film FEEL like you are reading that masterpiece. It contains everything from Dr. Manhattan’s glass “house” on Mars to Dreiberg’s basement lair for “Archie”. It is both a relief and not a surprise that the creators of this film didn’t mess around. Instead, they just got it right!
If you are a fan of the book, then don’t delay: go and see this movie right away! It is worth every penny to see this one. It is not an “adaptation”; it’s just the book in movie form! I know that’s kind of hard to imagine, but it’s true. Go see it and you tell me if I am wrong. There are a couple of minor things that were changed in the film, but nothing that changed the tone of the movie. As I say, these are minor changes.
If you have not read the book, you just need to prepare yourself for a long movie. At nearly 3 hours in length, “Watchmen” is a sumptuous visual feast. It is a story that spans at least 3 decades, so there is a lot of ground to cover. There are flashback sequences in the movie to explain both character storylines and give the story a full telling. If you don’t like that kind of thing, then you won’t like this movie.
If you prefer a more heroic tale, where the good guys win out over a clearly defined villain, then don’t go see this movie – you won’t enjoy it. If you thought Chris Nolan’s “the Dark Knight” was a pretty terrific movie, then you might enjoy this film. Keep in mind this: criminals don’t get arrested in this film, they die. If you liked “the Punisher” with Thomas Jane (we won’t even bring up its “remake”), then you’ll appreciate “Watchmen”.
The bottom line: this film has a power to it than cannot be matched by other super hero movies. I found it rather fitting for today’s audience to be exposed to this movie. There are a lot of kids out there who have grown up with “darker” comic book heroes (like Dead Pool and Spawn), and I hope they do somehow convince mom or dad to take them to this. Parents, you have to know what you child may be able to handle. Take that into account prior to making that decision. Will this movie change the way people will view super heroes? Maybe. Who knows what the film’s effects will be?
In those prophetic words I will end my review: who watches the Watchmen?
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE