Superheroes need psychiatrists too (Watchmen reviewed)


Watchmen (USA, 2009)

Seen: Sunday, 15th March 2009 (cinema)
Runtime: 162′
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino
Production House: Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Lawrence Gordon Productions, DC Comics
Plot: While the cold war threatens everybody with nuclear extinction, a couple of ageing, isolated and psychopathic superheroes are trying to get a grip on this new nuclear reality.

Scene From The Film
The trailer is in my film spotting post.

Impressions In Short
I’m not sure I liked it, but it was definitely interesting… Sort of insane actually.

More About the Film
I wonder how this will do in the box office. Just looked at the US one and it seems to have opened well, but dropped quite significantly in its second week (68% drop). That kind of makes sense to me cause on the one hand it’s a huge Hollywood special effects kind of movie which should appeal to a certain kind of audience, but on the other it is also very intellectual and should (at least theoretically) be difficult viewing for the audience it’s being marketed at.
I mean I’m pretty sure I missed a lot of intriguing subtexts because of my historical ignorance and I don’t think the average film goer is more knowledgeable than I am. Also, it’s a totally bizarre set of characters. It’s a bit like Sweeney Todd actually - almost all the characters are completely perverse, only the two lovers are pure.
It’s the first superhero film I’ve seen which points out that somebody who dresses up in strange clothes and goes out in the night to fight crime cannot be entirely sane and that the power a superhero holds would surely end up corrupting him. A valid point I think ;) And it’s also the reason why it has certain elements no other superhero film I’ve seen does - loads of very violent and gory scenes, a brutal rape attempt, three of the principle characters getting nude with even a full frontal in there (it’s also the first time I’ve seen a blue penis, but I digress ;) ).
Now all this was very interesting and had a lot of potential and also the film really has an amazing twist at the end (I’ve read on imdb that the comic had an even better ending, but this was still pretty jaw-dropping), but emotionally I was left relatively cold. I felt like the special effects and violence took over the film and that just wasn’t the exciting bit for me. It probably didn’t help that I’m not a big fan of gore (though I can tolerate it) and the film went quite far with it. This just resulted in me emotionally shutting off - that’s what usually happens to me when I’m watching really graphic, gory scenes. The violence would have actually left a bigger impression on me if it had been a little milder (I hear it was milder in the comic). And also I felt the characters lacked intensity. I mean “on paper” they were extremely complex. They were almost all very morally twisted and had a lot of mental hangups. On screen, however, it felt like the costumes and scenery and all of that just took over. I did, however, love the casting of Billy Crudup as Dr Manhattan (the blue guy). He was just perfect for it - he could have done his worst performance ever and still work well in the part lol While I actually like Crudup, I think he’s very bland and Dr Manhattan is so out of touch with human reality that that blandness just works so perfectly.

Er… yes and no. It’s visually very spectacular and I guess that if that sort of thing appeals to you, you’ll like it. The story is very intellectual and pretty disturbing - I guess for some people that will be a plus and for others a minus. On the whole, however, for me it’s a film which didn’t entirely work.

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