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Thread: First reviews of Watchmen

  1. #1
    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default First reviews of Watchmen

    (Yea I'm excited about this one)

    Watchmen :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews

    Watchmen
    A quantum man in a universe
    of mere masked marvels

    Release Date: 2009
    Ebert Rating: ****
    / / / Mar 4, 2009


    by Roger Ebert

    After the revelation of “The Dark Knight,” here is “Watchmen,” another bold exercise in the liberation of the superhero movie. It’s a compelling visceral film — sound, images and characters combined into a decidedly odd visual experience that evokes the feel of a graphic novel. It seems charged from within by its power as a fable; we sense it’s not interested in a plot so much as with the dilemma of functioning in a world losing hope.

    That world is America in 1985, with Richard Nixon in the White House and many other strange details, although this America occupies a parallel universe in which superheroes and masked warriors operate. The film confronts a paradox that was always there in comic books: The heroes are only human. They can be in only one place at a time (with a possible exception to be noted later). Although a superhero is able to handle one dangerous situation, the world has countless dangerous situations, and the super resources are stretched too thin. Faced with law enforcement anarchy, Nixon has outlawed superhero activity, quite possibly a reasonable action. Now the murder of the enigmatic vigilante the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has brought the Watchmen together again. Who might be the next to die?
    Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), the only one with superpowers in the literal sense, lives outside ordinary time and space, the forces of the universe seeming to coil beneath his skin. Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) is the world’s smartest man. The Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) is a man isolated from life by his mastery of technology. Rorshach (Jackie Earl Haley) is a man who finds meaning in patterns that may only exist in his mind. And Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman) lives with one of the most familiar human challenges, living up to her parents, in this case the original Silk Spectre (Carla Gugino). Dr. Manhattan is both her lover and a distant father figure living in a world of his own.

    These characters are garbed in traditional comic book wardrobes — capes, boots, gloves, belts, masks, props, anything to make them one of a kind. Rorshach’s cloth mask, with its endlessly shifting inkblots, is one of the most intriguing superhero masks ever, always in constant motion, like a mood ring of the id. Dr. Manhattan is contained in a towering, muscular, naked blue body; he was affected by one of those obligatory secret experiments gone wild. Never mind the details; what matters is that he possibly exists at a quantum level, at which particles seem exempt from the usual limitations of space and time. If it seems unlikely that quantum materials could assemble into a tangible physical body, not to worry. Everything is made of quantum particles, after all. There’s a lot we don’t know about them, including how they constitute Dr. Manhattan, so the movie is vague about his precise reality. I was going to say Silk Spectre II has no complaints, but actually she does.

    The mystery of the Comedian’s death seems associated with a plot to destroy the world. The first step in the plot may be to annihilate the Watchmen, who are All That Stand Between, etc. It is hard to see how anyone would benefit from the utter destruction of the planet, but remember that in 1985 there was a nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union that threatened exactly that. Remember “Better Dead Than Red”? There were indeed cold warriors who preferred to be dead rather than red, reminding me of David Merrick’s statement, “It’s not enough for me to win. My enemies must lose.”

    In a cosmic sense it doesn’t really matter who pushed the Comedian through the window. In a cosmic sense, nothing really matters, but best not meditate on that too much. The Watchmen and their special gifts are all the better able to see how powerless they really are, and although all but Dr. Manhattan are human and back the home team, their powers are not limitless. Dr. Manhattan, existing outside time and space, is understandably remote from the fate of our tiny planet, although perhaps he still harbors some old emotions.

    Those kinds of quandaries engage all the Watchmen, and are presented in a film experience of often fearsome beauty. It might seem improbable to take seriously a naked blue man, complete with discreet genitalia, but Billy Crudup brings a solemn detachment to Dr. Manhattan that is curiously affecting. Does he remember how it felt to be human? No, but hum a few bars. ... Crudup does the voice and the body language, which is transformed by software into a figure of considerable presence.

    “Watchmen” focuses on the contradiction shared by most superheroes: They cannot live ordinary lives but are fated to help mankind. That they do this with trademarked names and appliances goes back to their origins in Greece, where Zeus had his thunderbolts, Hades his three-headed dog, and Hermes his winged feet. Could Zeus run fast? Did Hermes have a dog? No.

    That level of symbolism is coiling away beneath all superheroes. What appeals with Batman is his humanity; despite his skills, he is not supernormal. “Watchmen” brings surprising conviction to these characters as flawed and minor gods, with Dr. Manhattan possessing access to godhead on a plane that detaches him from our daily concerns — indeed, from days themselves. In the film’s most spectacular scene, he is exiled to Mars, and in utter isolation reimagines himself as a human, and conjures (or discovers? I’m not sure) an incredible city seemingly made of crystal and mathematical concepts. This is his equivalent to 40 days in the desert, and he returns as a savior.

    The film is rich enough to be seen more than once. I plan to see it again, this time on IMAX, and will have more to say about it. I’m not sure I understood all the nuances and implications, but I am sure I had a powerful experience. It’s not as entertaining as “The Dark Knight,” but like the “Matrix” films, LOTR and “The Dark Knight,” it’s going to inspire fevered analysis. I don’t want to see it twice for that reason, however, but mostly just to have the experience again.

  2. #2
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    totally seeing that this weekend. Can't wait. the hard R rating is a big plus
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

  3. #3
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    Movie review: 'Watchmen' delivers great scenes

    Action fantasy. Starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson. Directed by Zack Snyder. (R. 163 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)

    Director Zack Snyder is beginning to look like the best thing to happen to the action movie in this decade. His previous film, "300," took the battle of Thermopylae and re-created it, combining stylized visuals with a feeling for history, culture and character. His new picture, "Watchmen," follows in the same vein, but goes deeper, achieving a psychological sophistication that "The Dark Knight" aimed for but didn't quite reach.

    Other directors shake the camera to instill excitement. Snyder meticulously choreographs action scenes and thrills audiences with his inventiveness. Other directors go in for brutal realism. Snyder goes in for brutal surrealism, adding little visual grace notes that comment on the action and allow for audience distance. These touches, some of them genuinely odd but strangely right, show an unconscious engagement with the material, the work of a director not going through the motions but pulling from all sides of his brain.

    He had a strong advantage going into "Watchmen," an audacious adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name. In their screenplay, writers David Hayter and Alex Tse don't do the usual thing of pounding the novel into something simple and linear. Instead they give us a story with lots of digressions and spin-off narratives. In one scene, at a funeral, the movie's forward motion completely stops for a series of flashbacks in which various people recall their contacts with the deceased. These scenes and others like them explore character - and with no apology coming in the form of an action orgy minutes later.

    One could say that the filmmakers' strategy in "Watchmen" is to try to hold the audience's attention, not with a great story (the story is just OK), but with great scenes, one after the next. That's the ultimate risk in any narrative art: It means that the contract for an audience's engagement is up for renewal at the end of every sequence. Yet Snyder and company keep closing the deal. They keep the ball in the air for an epic 163 minutes, by attending to the drama within scenes and by nurturing the film's pervasive mood - despair and nihilism.

    That mood descends during the opening credits. Through a mix of archival and manufactured footage, we get the back-story of "Watchmen" through flashes - an alternate history in which masked heroes have been part of the urban landscape for decades. The effect of this credit sequence can't be overstated: It presents, in fictionalized form, the mid to late 20th century as an endless slog of wars, assassinations and mass deceptions. Within minutes, the viewer has been infused with a sense of life on earth as chaotic and hopeless.

    It's 1985. Richard Nixon is still president, the Soviets are threatening nuclear war, and a serial killer is threatening two generations of masked heroes, who were once important figures on the American scene. Now disbanded and back in private life, the various heroes, to different degrees, try to discover who is after them. Along the way, they uncover more serious plots and threats to civilization.
    Unlike the case of "The Dark Knight," there are no performances here that we'll be talking about at Oscar time, but the ensemble is excellent, with Patrick Wilson as a Batman-like figure, who's shy except in his bat suit; Malin Akerman, as the woman torn between him and her increasingly remote lover - a shape-shifting, radiation altered superman (Billy Crudup); and Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, the gruffest, meanest little guy anywhere.

    Hard-bitten, weary and contained, the performances reinforce the somber mood. Action scenes, when they happen, are bold and striking, but they're kept to a minimum. As the story isn't the movie's strong suit, it's no surprise that the climax is mild by action movie standards - just an intelligent resolution, then the credits.
    The appeal of "Watchmen" is really about something else - the sight of a blimp passing by the twin towers, as seen from an office window. It's about the uneasiness we feel when we see those towers resurrected in an alternate universe. Part conscious and part unconscious, "Watchmen" tells us of a world without hope and then makes us wonder if we're already living in it.

    -- Advisory: This movie contains simulated sex, nudity, strong language and graphic violence.

  4. #4
    Gold Member Flak's Avatar
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    Excellent! Can't wait to see it!
    By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity -- another man's I mean. -Mark Twain

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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    The appeal of "Watchmen" is really about something else - the sight of a blimp passing by the twin towers, as seen from an office window. It's about the uneasiness we feel when we see those towers resurrected in an alternate universe. Part conscious and part unconscious, "Watchmen" tells us of a world without hope and then makes us wonder if we're already living in it.
    I didn't even notice the twin towers. Guess I'll have to look for them the next time I see it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    the hard R rating is a big plus
    I really appreciate that part, the lack of sugar coating.

    I did close and cover my eyes during the arm saw scene. I just couldn't watch that part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by celeb_2006 View Post
    Movie review: 'Watchmen' delivers great scenes

    Action fantasy. Starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson. Directed by Zack Snyder. (R. 163 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)

    Director Zack Snyder is beginning to look like the best thing to happen to the action movie in this decade. His previous film, "300," took the battle of Thermopylae and re-created it, combining stylized visuals with a feeling for history, culture and character. His new picture, "Watchmen," follows in the same vein, but goes deeper, achieving a psychological sophistication that "The Dark Knight" aimed for but didn't quite reach.

    Other directors shake the camera to instill excitement. Snyder meticulously choreographs action scenes and thrills audiences with his inventiveness. Other directors go in for brutal realism. Snyder goes in for brutal surrealism, adding little visual grace notes that comment on the action and allow for audience distance. These touches, some of them genuinely odd but strangely right, show an unconscious engagement with the material, the work of a director not going through the motions but pulling from all sides of his brain.

    He had a strong advantage going into "Watchmen," an audacious adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name. In their screenplay, writers David Hayter and Alex Tse don't do the usual thing of pounding the novel into something simple and linear. Instead they give us a story with lots of digressions and spin-off narratives. In one scene, at a funeral, the movie's forward motion completely stops for a series of flashbacks in which various people recall their contacts with the deceased. These scenes and others like them explore character - and with no apology coming in the form of an action orgy minutes later.

    One could say that the filmmakers' strategy in "Watchmen" is to try to hold the audience's attention, not with a great story (the story is just OK), but with great scenes, one after the next. That's the ultimate risk in any narrative art: It means that the contract for an audience's engagement is up for renewal at the end of every sequence. Yet Snyder and company keep closing the deal. They keep the ball in the air for an epic 163 minutes, by attending to the drama within scenes and by nurturing the film's pervasive mood - despair and nihilism.

    That mood descends during the opening credits. Through a mix of archival and manufactured footage, we get the back-story of "Watchmen" through flashes - an alternate history in which masked heroes have been part of the urban landscape for decades. The effect of this credit sequence can't be overstated: It presents, in fictionalized form, the mid to late 20th century as an endless slog of wars, assassinations and mass deceptions. Within minutes, the viewer has been infused with a sense of life on earth as chaotic and hopeless.

    It's 1985. Richard Nixon is still president, the Soviets are threatening nuclear war, and a serial killer is threatening two generations of masked heroes, who were once important figures on the American scene. Now disbanded and back in private life, the various heroes, to different degrees, try to discover who is after them. Along the way, they uncover more serious plots and threats to civilization.
    Unlike the case of "The Dark Knight," there are no performances here that we'll be talking about at Oscar time, but the ensemble is excellent, with Patrick Wilson as a Batman-like figure, who's shy except in his bat suit; Malin Akerman, as the woman torn between him and her increasingly remote lover - a shape-shifting, radiation altered superman (Billy Crudup); and Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, the gruffest, meanest little guy anywhere.

    Hard-bitten, weary and contained, the performances reinforce the somber mood. Action scenes, when they happen, are bold and striking, but they're kept to a minimum. As the story isn't the movie's strong suit, it's no surprise that the climax is mild by action movie standards - just an intelligent resolution, then the credits.
    The appeal of "Watchmen" is really about something else - the sight of a blimp passing by the twin towers, as seen from an office window. It's about the uneasiness we feel when we see those towers resurrected in an alternate universe. Part conscious and part unconscious, "Watchmen" tells us of a world without hope and then makes us wonder if we're already living in it.

    -- Advisory: This movie contains simulated sex, nudity, strong language and graphic violence.

    nice to see that mick la salle gave it a good review. i nearly always agree with his reviews. i lurve him.
    white, black, puerto rican/everybody just a freakin'/good times were rollin'.


  7. #7
    Elite Member Chalet's Avatar
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    Has anyone else seen it?

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