I admit that I was more than a bit skeptical going in. I echoed all the naysayers opinions that the film just couldn't be made. Too ambitious for the screen and would take a trilogy at the very least. And I did come across a few reviews that were less than stellar. But, had to see it. Had to. Couldn't wait any longer.
Loved it! And so did Sandy. It's one of the handful of graphic novels I've got her to read over the years so she was familiar with the brilliance. We both agreed that it deserved a solid 8.5 out of a possible 10.
First off it looked great. And I guess we'd expect that out of Zack Snyder after the stunning visuals of 300 wouldn't we? The opening scene of The Comedian getting the snot beat out of him was stunning in it's vicious clarity. So, the movie looked great.
Second, the cast. Great from top to bottom starting with the aforementioned Comedian aka Jeffrey Dean Morgan. His character rocked! He played the part to perfection. The guy who kicks the shit out of the bad guys--even kills them (kills the good guys too for that matter)--with a certain kind of sick relish that makes you really like the dude. I know, it's wrong. It's so wrong it's right.
Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan. WOW! Never been a huge Billy Crudup fan per se. I always thought he was a fine actor but he never wowed me before until this. He played the part with such subdued, subtle emotion...and yet the emotion crackled with energy. I'm telling you, it must make Leonard Nimoy proud! And the character Dr. Manhattan is so freaking cool! He looked amazing. And when they put him in the black suit? Awesome. He'll never get a nomination because it's a "super-hero" film and that's a shame because he nailed this part. And the CGI blue suit was phenomenal. Usually the CGI muscles look like crap but this was top-notch right down to Mr. Johnson's swaying along as the good Doc strutted towards Ozymandias with bad intention.
Malin Ackerman, The Silk Spectre II. The only other movie I ever saw her in was the very uneven Harold & Kumar/White Castle thing where she played the horny housewife of some deformed creep. In H&K she revealed her breasts and I'm happy to report she does so again in Watchmen. Not gonna mince words here folks, she is a fine looking woman! Stunning. And you know what?...She can act! Not just a pretty face but along with the Nite Owl II the moral compass of the film. It was her after all, perhaps the "weakest" super-hero, who was able to touch Dr. Manhattan's fleeting connection with humanity. I sincerely can't wait to see her in upcoming films. Even if she remains fully clothed.
And speaking of Nite Owl II...Patrick Wilson...I've seen him in a handful of things but can't seem to remember what. Only that I've seen him before. I seem to recall that his prior works have always been good but, again, can't remember what they were. As Nite Owl he was great. He played the part of the "lost soul" very well. Not sure what his place was, afraid of where he was going, unsure...lost. He didn't weep or cry or sulk. He just played it with a sense of sad lonliness. Again, like Crudup, with a subtlety. A dignified subtlety that made you want him to succeed...to get the girl! Just that "nice guy" who deserves a break. I should add that "nice guy" who can and does kick some serious ass too, folks. The alley scene was great.
Matthew Goode as Ozymandias. Never seen this actor as far as I know but he played the cold, calculating part of Ozymandias quite well. He looked the part too. Thin, handsome in an almost feminine way without being feminine (does that make sense?), and deadly. He simmered with calm deadliness. Course it probably helped that I knew the score on him before ever seeing the film. I knew what the dude was up to so I also knew what to watch for. Anyway, another stellar choice in casting.
And finally Jackie Earle Haley. Yep, same skinny runt from The Bad News Bears flicks we all loved as kids (if you grew up in the 70s/80s like me anyway). He ain't the scary cigarette smoking punk, Kelly, anymore. Nope now he's the even scarier freak Rorschach! Could this part have been cast anymore brilliantly? I want to know who's responsible. They simply could not have found a better person for this role. Impossible. And why did Hollywood virtually ignore Jackie for, what, 20 years before his comeback in Little Children last year. The guy's got talent! Man! He was unbelievably brilliant as the twisted Rorschach. Seething with rage, anger, yet that sense of right. Another performance that should receive numerous nominations that sadly will not. But I'd hope that Jackie's not going to be lacking for good roles for a long, long time after this. Hollywood just can't be that stupid twice, can they?
The soundtrack was the only uneven thing for me. I'm big on soundtracks and some of the choices just didn't quite fit. Or they were too loud. Out of place. Some songs were great like 99 Luftballoons. Weird and perfect. Especially considering this took place in the mid 80s. But some just missed the mark and were distracting. Really my only minor quibble with the film.
And I am THRILLED that the bigtime Hollywood decision makers, who all-too-often miss the mark by miles, acquiesced to letting this be a "period piece" and not try to modernize it by putting it in present day. That would have been a big mistake. Having the political climate of the 80s and staying true to Alan Moore's vision was a refreshing gratification after all the arbitrary changes I've seen Hollywood make to other comic book adaptations over the years. Whoever convinced whomever is my hero now. Well done!
I talked with my good pal, Jim Droese (fellow comic geek),after seeing Watchmen today and he summed it up pretty nicely after explaining why he only gave the movie a 7.5. He said, "I wanted MORE! 2 hours and 40 minutes just wasn't enough."
And I couldn't agree more. I want more too. I'm not a big advocate of extended DVD "Director's Cuts" but in this case I'm drooling with anticipation. I'm even going to go on the first day of its release!