Saturday, August 22, 2009

Movie: Watchmen (2009)

Rating: 4
Year: 2009
Genre: Fantasy/Superhero
See Again? Yes

Our Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Meetup group watched the new BlueRay release of this film last night.
The "director's cut" is 186 (3:06) minutes long, versus the theater release time of 162 (2:42). The extra 24 minutes gave us a little side-story, but not something I couldn't live without. It made an already long movie feel longer.

The story: it's an alternate 1985. Tricky Dick Nixon is in his third term as President. Masked superheroes have been outlawed. The Watchmen disbanded, retired, and melted into the populace.

One of them--The Comedian--is murdered, thrown from his high-rise apartment. One of his former teammates suits up to find the killer and warn the others: Rorschach, who reminds me of Sam Spade with a white ski mask under his fedora, but with Wolverine's manners.

Casting was mostly good.
I really liked Jackie Earl Haley's "Rorschach"--but I couldn't say whether his "Christian-Bale-As-Batman" voice was done as a nod to Bale's superhero or not. I'll have to see it a few more times. He does get the single coolest line in the entire movie. After being locked up for a murder he didn't commit, he gets into a brief fight with an inmate, then announces to the others: "None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you! You're locked up in here with me!"

Patrick Wilson's "Dan/NiteOwl II" was fun. He's the "Batman" of the team--lots of money, lots of wonderful toys, lives alone. No butler. The in-joke with this guy is that his costume includes goggles that give him night-vision and such--but in his mild-mannered persona he has to wear glasses.

Malin Ackerman (Laurie/Silk Spectre II) is the obligatory vinyl-clad hottie heroine, and she pulls this off reasonably well, aside from some clumsy hero-landings and poses. I kept expecting to see a "Clairol" (tm) placement in some of the fight scenes, where her hair flows like something out of a hair-care commercial.

Billy Crudup appears only briefly as John Osterman; the vast majority of screen time is given to his computer-generated heroic ego, Dr. Manhattan, of the glowing blue skin and the glowing blue todger. Thumbs up from three out of three women in the Meetup! A subtle but VERY effective effect with Dr. Manhattan was the interactive lighting when he got near enough to cast light on a person or thing. In a medium where explosions don't cast light or shadows (or interact with their surroundings), this is a neat effect.

On the downside, I wasn't impressed with the age makeup on Carla Gugino's Sally/Silk Spectre (she's Laurie's mother, and handed the name down to her kid). She didn't look as much like an older version of herself as Lea Thompson did in "Back to the Future." Her lower face was puffy-looking--but it could be because this was in BlueRay, which is much less forgiving of weak makeup effects than a regular DVD just because we can see so many little details.

By the same token, the Nixon makeup on Robert Wisden was iffy and fake-looking. They got the nose right, and the overall look was good, but he suffered from the same puffy-face syndrome as Gugino.

I could have done without the "Knotheads" side-story of the extended version. This is a gang of various ethnicities, each with a samurai-style topknot, and they kill the original NiteOwl (Stephen McHattie). This just leads to a fight in a bar where the current NiteOwl (Patrick Wilson) beats the stuffing out of one of the gang members after learning of his mentor's death. Meh.

Still, not that many negatives. I have yet to read any of the original comics or books, so I can't say how closely they're followed, but I liked it.


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