Thursday, July 21, 2011

Watchmen (2009)

I Definitely Won't Be Re-watching The Watchmen
....That's For Sure

- I had very interest in seeing Watchmen (2009) upon viewing its first trailer. Whether it was taking in the slow-motion lameness or noticing the cheesiness of the heroes' costumes, I was dreading the inevitable viewing I would need to put myself through to find out what all the hub-ub over the film is about.

Of course, the trailer's phrase "From the visionary director of 300 (2007) did not help rake in any extra interest for me. Zack Snyder is proving to be one of the worst directors working in Hollywood today. Although starting his filmography out well with his 2006 Dawn Of The Dead remake, 300 is just an awful film: the acting was horrendous and the film's style is ugly and very un-visionary like. Watchmen here I come!

Watchmen takes place in an alternate universe where a group of superheroes called The Watchmen have had a great impact on history - even helping the United States win the Vietnam War. By the 1980s however, The Watchmen have been outlawed and, because relations between the US and USSR are so bad, the world is terrified of the possibility of nuclear war. While The Watchmen were banned as an organization, one member of Watchmen remains active with blessing from the US government: the god-like Dr. Manhattan - who goes CGI full-frontal about 90% of the time (seriously, Manhattan cannot at least squeeze himself into an extra-large Speedo?), giving each audience member an up-close and personal new definition to the phrase "blue man group." Together with US President Nixon (who, after abolishing term limits, is in his fourth term; as if there is a real difference between political parties in the first place) they try to avoid a nuclear attack on the US.

Anyway, so everything is not so well in The Watchmen alternate universe - but things get worse when former Watchmen member The Comedian is murdered. Former Watchmen vigilante Rorschach seems to be the only one who cares that his former colleague is dead and begins to not only warn other former members of The Watchmen but to also get to the bottom of the murder. Other former Watchmen members become attacked and framed, all the while relations between the US and USSR continues to deteriorate and the doomsday clock continues to tick, bringing the world closer to nuclear war. Will The Watchmen be able to save themselves while saving the world from nuclear annihilation? Who cares?

Imagine my surprise that Snyder destroys another film. Watchmen is certainly better than 300 but is also certainly a lame mess. Packed with what is becoming Snyder's cinematic signature, Watchmen is overdone to death with slow motion and the clich├ęd scene set ups. Most notable of this is the bizarre Skin-a-Max sex scene towards the middle of the film - words cannot describe how pathetic the scene is.
Also, neither the action nor the drama is well staged. As was the case with 300, we have seen those action scenes one hundred million times before and the drama fails due to Snyder's inability to create tension or curb his actors well. Perhaps worst of all, the film's story is not told well in the least. The plot is stuffed to a breaking point but, to add embarrassment to injury, the film also hops back and forth between the current "the world is in danger" timeline to the past lives of each Watchmen member. This factor really takes away from the actual plot of the film and makes Watchmen a colossal mess.

Alright, so I disliked the film, but I would like to point out that Watchmen has one positive: the Rorschach character who is well portrayed by Jackie Earle Haley. His voice gets a little irritating at times - he sounds like Brian Johnson of ACDC after a tracheotomy talking through an electronic voicebox (and people complain about Christian Bale's Batman voice?) - but he is the only likable and interesting character in the film. Rorschach is really the only character who struggles in the film and has some real choices to make (no, Laurie's indecision about which member of The Watchmen she wants to have sex with does not count). He is dedicated to do his job, is trying deliver justice and protect others, and paradoxically, while he is a violent monster he is the only one of The Watchmen crew that has a true moral sense. The rest of the characters and cast are all boring - except in the case of Dr. Manhattan, who is just gross, and actress Malin Akerman, who is just flat-out bad.

I have never read a Watchmen comic book - in fact, I did not even know that an original print source material existed for Watchmen until I heard of this film's production. Well, after seeing the film, I certainly will not be rushing out to read a Watchmen comic - or go out of my way to see another Zach Snyder film, for that matter. The film was ridiculously overlong, ridiculously convoluted, ridiculously performed, ridiculously presented, ridiculously obscene.... ridiculous.

As the phrase "Who is watching The Watchmen?" continuously pops up from scene to scene throughout the film, I solidly answer each time: "Not me, never again."

CBC Rating: 4/10

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