Watchmen (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

Review byMatthew Turner04/03/2009

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 163 mins

Impressively directed, brilliantly designed, superbly written and impeccably acted, this is a thoroughly enjoyable thriller that is essentially the best possible adaptation of Watchmen that anyone could have hoped for.

What's it all about?
Adapted from the phenomenally successful (and long thought unfilmable) comic / graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen is directed by Zack Snyder and takes place in an alternate 1985 where the Americans won Vietnam, President Nixon's in his third term of office and the world is on the brink of nuclear war. Against this backdrop, a masked, trenchcoat-wearing vigilante named Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) is investigating the murder of ex-superhero The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and soon concludes that there's a “mask-killer” on the loose.

Rorschach attempts to warn the members of his disbanded (and recently outlawed) superhero group, including blue-skinned, God-like Dr Manhattan (Billy Crudup), gadget-savvy Batman-alike Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), foxy Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman) and billionaire Ozymandias (Matthew Goode). However, as Rorschach and Nite Owl dig deeper, they uncover something much, much darker.

The Good
First things first: if you're a fan of the comic book, you won't be disappointed, as Snyder (a self-confessed fanboy) has put almost every frame up on screen. As such, the production design is nothing less than astonishing, although you do wonder if it was necessary to include quite so many shots of Doctor Manhattan's naked blue cock.

The performances are fantastic, with Haley, Morgan and Crudup the stand-outs, although there's solid support from both Wilson and Akerman, as well as Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter, the original Silk Spectre. In addition, Snyder orchestrates some terrific set-pieces, including a thrilling jail-break and a wonderful opening montage set to Bob Dylan's The Times, They Are A-Changin’.

The Bad
That said, the film's not entirely flawless – for example, the moral ambiguity of Rorschach's violence is somewhat lost when placed alongside Nite Owl and Silk Spectre's actions in the vicious alley fight (the film goes much further than the book, for no adequately explained reason).

Worth seeing?
Frankly, Watchmen is a case of huge sighs of relief all around, as this is a hugely enjoyable thriller that should please both fans and newcomers alike. Highly recommended and easily one of the best films of the year.

Film Trailer

Watchmen (18)
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Content updated: 20/04/2019 03:11

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