Review – Watchmen: The Directors Cut

                Rating = ★★★★   Tagline = Full Price

Let me start off this review by giving major props to director Zack Snyder for bringing Watchmen to the big screen. Everyone thought that Alan Moore’s graphic novel could not be made into a movie; it was deemed unfilmable. When I initially found out Snyder was directing, my hopes were dampened. First of all, wasn’t a big fan of 300. While not bad in any sense of the word, it didn’t work for me. Yes, visually speaking it was great. Overall, 300 never quite gelled for me. Directors Terry Gilliam, Paul Greengrass, and Darren Aronofsky were going to direct this movie at one point. They all backed out because none of them could see the material being translated well on screen. Against all odds, Snyder did wonders. Watchmen: Directors Cut is one long movie – it’s running time is about three hours. The length was needed to convey the story properly – I’m glad he didn’t shy away from that.

Quote = “The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll whisper “no.”

Set in an alternative universe in 1985, the world is highly unstable, nuclear war is imminent between America and Russia. All superheros have long been made to cease their crime fighting thanks to the government-sponsored Keene Act. But this all changes when the death of the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) – a robust ex-hero commando – mysterious free fall out a window perks the interest of the country’s last remaining superhero, Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley). In his investigation he believes he has uncovered a plot by a mysterious foe to kill off other costumed heroes. Rorschach then warns his former colleagues Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), and the godlike Doctor Manhattanm (Billy Crudup) – he’s the only one who actually has super human ability. Watchmen is kind of a more complex and R rated version of the The Incredibles.

Quote = “The art of being a hero is knowing when you don’t need to be one anymore.”

Alex Tse and David Hayter’s screenplay is beyond great. They did a great job getting everything they could out of the novel. Of course they couldn’t get ever last detail from the novel into the movie. Still, they got a solid amount. Watchmen is complex morality tale and has countless layers. Many recurring themes are presented throughout the movie. Human nature has never been delved into as deep. Justice, heroes, compromise, politics – nothing left untouched. Don’t get me started on the dialog, just so many superb lines.

Quote= “Once you realize what a joke everything is, being the Comedian is the only thing that makes sense.”

The Watchmen.

The characters couldn’t have been done better. Yes, these people know how to fight and have a tool or too, but their just real people in costumes – save for Doctor Manhattan. All of them have flaws and some don’t really have any redeeming qualities. Throughout the movie each characters back story is raveled, it’s like each of them get their own part of the movie. All the flashbacks do a great job of showing who these people are and the viewpoints they have on themselves and the world. The present time shows that as well. My favorite character was Rorschach. I love all of them, but Rorschach is so intriguing. Each character is flawed, yet you find yourself wanting everything to turn out good for them. This makes them seem more human. Through the course of the movie all the characters change for better or for worse When I think about it, Watchmen is sort of a character study; among other things.

 Quote = “In my opinion, the existence of life is a highly overrated phenomenon.”

The performances are excellent. Rorschach was the character that had to be perfectly cast and perfectly acted; thankfully Jackie Earle Haley answers the call. He completely embodies every aspect of the character. Even when he’s behind the mask, he shines. Subtle and load elements to the character are done well; adds depth that was already there strictly from the writing department. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was also perfectly cast as the Comedian. He steals every scene he’s in. Matthew Goode might not have been the best fit to play Adrien Veidt, but he has a quite quality that helps pull off the character. Billy Crudup had the hardest character to play, Doctor Manhattan. Crudup’s voice, along with the motion capture of his face has certainly been incorporated well to make the intriguing naked blue man be more than a glob of special effects. Patrick Wilson has never wowed me in any way. While he doesn’t go above and beyond, Wilson holds his own and sells moments with facial expressions. Malin Akerman is the weakest member of the cast. She is not bad, but compared to everyone else she just falls a little short – mainly in her line delivery.

Quote = “What happened to the American dream? It came true, you’re looking at it!”

The opening credits must be mentioned. I have to say that the opening credits to this movie is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was a great way to show us the history of the Watchmen and it opened the movie on a high note. Even people who didn’t like the movie said that they still like the opening credits. Just flawless. Another thing that I really liked about the movie was the soundtrack. The soundtrack is a mix of scoring, which seems to be channeling a gritty 80s crime film mixed with some nice pieces. Getting to the look of the film; make no mistake, it looks outstanding. The cinematography captures the surrounds and helps you buy into this world. The slow motion is overused at times, but only really bothered me in a scene or two – it was used effective in some. While Watchmen is flawed, it’s something of a masterpiece.

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7 thoughts on “Review – Watchmen: The Directors Cut

  1. Did you read the original source material? If so, what did you think about the change of the ending regarding the giant space squid? I always thought that element of the comics was the weakest part, but I’m not a fan of how the movie handled it as well.

    I think the writers of the screenplay didn’t think their scenario through to the end like Moore did. In Moore’s telling there was a common “enemy” to unite against. In the film’s version the common “enemy” is actually a weapon of one specific nation that has deployed it against other nations in the past.

    Slightly switching subjects, are you reading the new “Watchman” comic releases they have been issuing in groups of mini-series for each character. The writers and artists are doing a really good job of staying loyal to the original work while expanding the character history. I didn’t know they were going to include some villain titles as well. I just read “Mordoch”, and it was really good.

    Great review of the director’s cut. I haven’t watched it, and I have always thought about doing so. I’ll add it to my Netflix queue.

    • Yes, I read the original source material – recently I might add. Like you, the squid thing was okay, caught me off guard and didn’t entirely work for me. While the movie version isn’t perfect, I liked it a lot and thought it was a better way to do it on film specifically.

      I haven’t read them yet, but I want to. Your thoughts on them have made me want to read them even more now.

      The directors cut adds scenes, dialog, and takes away bad aspects. It’s far superior to the theatrical version. Overall, it is a more complete movie. Make sure to see it when you have the time.

  2. Watchmen the graphic novel is great and Snyder delivers a great film. The end off the film sense for the film gave it a more realistic factor. The greatest part of the film is the title sequence where Snyder displays the other events from the novel. Only the novel fans would appreciated it. Great review

  3. This movie got a lot of hate for some reason upon its release. I’m not sure if it was just from fanboys of the graphic novel whose expectations were not able to be met or it if was from those expecting a traditional superhero film minus giant blue genitalia. However, I really was impressed by the film and thought it was quite daring and original (despite the obvious similarities to “The Incredibles”). I haven’t seen the director’s cut yet, but would like to. I am very curious to see how Zack Snyder handles Superman in “The Man of Steel,” which looks to be quite different visually than his previous movies.

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