There's a lot of hype surrounding this latest comic book film. It was always thought by some to be unfilmable because it seemed impossible get all the content in a single movie. But director Zack Snyder ('300') has done an amazing job in adapting it for moviegoers.
It's only distraction may be that it's too fan friendly, and outsiders who haven't read the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons will be lost at sea. Visually, it's eye-popping and gorgeous, and the costumes are a sight to see. But with its heavy adult-themed plot, viewers will be mixed with this artistic approach. Nevertheless, there are plenty of elements that make the film worth seeing.
Set in 1985, President Richard Nixon is serving his fifth term in office. The United States and Russia at are odds, with the threat of nuclear war peaking to the highest level of Defcon 1. It's five minutes before midnight and Armageddon begins. Wearing nothing but a bathrobe, the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) gets into a fight with an unknown figure in his apartment that leads to his death.
Having to put aside their powers and behave like civilians because of a legislative mandate are his former colleagues, the Watchmen. Looking for answers and vengeance is the shape-shifting mask-wearing Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), who also serves as the film's narrator. With the aid of Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson) and the blue-skinned Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), this group of superheroes bands together once more in their quest for justice.
Also involved in the mix is Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), who was known as the smartest man in the world.
Throughout the film, which runs at a lengthy two hours and 43 minutes, we are treated to the back story of each character, including the history of the first set of Watchmen, known years ago as the Minutemen. That included the original Silk Spectre, Mothman, Dollar Bill and Nite Owl I.
Unlike most of the comic book films we have seen recently, including last year's 'The Dark Knight,' 'Iron Man,' and 'The Incredible Hulk,' there's not a lot of action here, with the exception of a few fight scenes and a glorious jaw-dropping prison sequence in which Silk Spectre II and Night Owl II free Rorschach. The rest of the film is filled with lots of political talk about the end of mankind, which gets to be convoluted if that's not area of interest.
If you are a fan of the book, it will be hard to remain objective. You're basking in the glory of seeing these characters on the screen. Everyone else will need CliffNotes to keep up. Outside of Haley's Rorschach, who steals the spotlight when onscreen, the performances from the rest of the cast are bland. With scenes of Dr. Manhattan's "full monty" and soft-porn love scenes between two of the characters, this movie is certainly not for kids. This film will either gradually grow on you, or you will leave wondering what else you could have done with your time.