Until the first preview for Watchmen premiered in front of The Dark Knight. There were only two types of people: Those who had never heard of “Watchmen” and those who had read Watchmen.
Watchmen is one of the most classic graphic novels ever published.  Originally released as twelve individual issues the compilation has actually made Time Magazine’s top 100 novels of all time list.   Thus after seeing the preview I started a thorough search for the novel at every comic book store I passed for several months.  That actually makes me the one of the few who had heard of “Watchmen” but never read it, or the exception that proves the rule.  

Set in 1985 at the height of the Cold War in a world where costumed vigilantes defend justice from the forces of evil the story begins with one of the most long-lived heroes, the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), being murdered.  His murder sparks an investigation by the most interesting of characters Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley).  Rorschach is an unorthodox detective who wears a mask that resembles Rorschach-style symmetrical ink blots.  He thinks that someone is trying to kill off all the costumed heroes, most of who have retired or gone public like Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias).  

Through a series of events Rorschach makes the Night Owl II (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) aware of the perceived plot. Eventually Night Owl and Silk Spectre II come out of a government-mandated retirement and don their costumes for the good of society once more.  This is all to the backdrop of impending nuclear war with Russia.  

There is also plenty of back-story for each of the principle characters and the previous generation of heroes that inspired them.  

The film is incredibly accurate to its source material from the dialogue to casting and the setting of the mid 80’s with five-term President Nixon. This will please fans of the graphic novel with the only noticeable difference being some legitimate updates to the hero’s costumes. Of course the most impressive is the style of Dr. Manhattan.  He is the blue super-powered being who can manipulate matter and experiences time on a non-linier nature.  

Director Zack Snyder continues his success in bringing graphic novels to the big screen. Though since graphic novels are essentially very polished storyboards, the step between script and filming when making a movie, the translation is not difficult.  Unlike 300 Snyder uses a more varied style of film techniques and is not so dependent on narration.  This makes Watchmen a better overall film than 300.  The action is spectacular and the character interaction and development translates well to the screen. However a few sex scenes come off more as comedy than romance.   Part of the problem is the length and unnecessary gratuity of the scene.  

Watchmen is dark. It is not your typical superhero film, this is probably why the graphic novel has known the success it has.  Instead of fighting for truth and justice these heroes are truly flawed.  For some being a hero is a job, for others megalomania sets in.  That being said this movie is not necessarily for everyone. Fans of the original material will be satisfied with the on-screen result, while others may be confused or bored at the films length.  

The translation from paper to film is analogous to Lord of the Rings, and probably just as successful.  However there will only ever be one Watchmen.  Overall this is a good film; that is if you want your super heroes flawed, with psychological issues and often in a grey area between hero and villain.

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