*** Official WATCHMEN Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by LynxFX, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. LynxFX

    LynxFX Stunt Coordinator

    May 27, 2008
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    Got to see it today.

    First I really have no prior knowledge of Watchmen so I went in pretty much a virgin to the story. The following is spoiler free.

    In a word, epic. In a cheesy catch phrase, this movie puts the 'graphic' back in 'graphic novel.'

    This film is a hard R, with no reservations. It is brutal, graphic, non-PC, sexual, full frontal nudity on Dr. Manhattan, and did I mention brutal? Definitely not for the kiddies.

    It is also looong I might add. Clocks in at 2 hours and 40 minutes. Most of it flies by but it does drag a tiny bit in the 3rd act.

    From the opening scene through the opening credits it quickly sets the tone. I watched this in a theater filled with fans of the graphic novel and they cheered at all sorts of stuff in the opening credits so I'm guessing there are lots of hidden gems in there for those that know.

    I really liked the use of flashbacks to give back story about each of the main characters. You really get to like, or hate some of them. Rorschach is probably one of the coolest characters in the film and he also gets one of the best lines and audience cheers. Just like droves of people dressed like Heath Ledger's Joker, I expect this Halloween will be filled with people dressed like Rorschach.

    The overall story flows pretty well and isn't that hard to follow, even without knowing anything about it. It is serious and brutal but there are also a lot of LOL moments and other humor sprinkled throughout.

    As for direction, Zach Snyder really steps it up. I really liked 300 and here he takes it further, but for the most part more grounded in the real world. Yes there are lots of slow motion shots but it used incredibly well and really accentuates most of the fights. I also really liked the choice of music used. It is very Tarantino-esque.

    I understand the ending is different from the source but I didn't have a problem with how it ended. Judge that for yourself. It is a bit preachy though.

    Overall a cool movie going experience. It should make some bank this March.
  2. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Screenwriter

    Feb 22, 1999
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    Got a surprise today that I was invited to a screening of "Watchmen."

    I only read the graphic novel once a few years ago, so I wouldn't consider myself a fan and I was far enough removed from the plot to take the film's story on its own terms. I thought it was a great experience that transcended the most critical reviews I've scanned. It's very faithful in many respects to the book and does not for a second compromise in any attempts to be either brutal or philosophical. The director definitely wanted to ground the film with the characters' emotional lives and that side is quite well handled, especially by Billy Crudup and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I didn't feel the film deviated into camp, though I think the same instincts that made the experience so engrossing and kinetic also pushed other elements in directions that I personally think could have been handled with more subtlety. Dark and viscreal pushed too far threatens to undercut the dark and intelligent story is what I would say.

    I would only hesitate to recommend the film to those who would balk at the graphic violence, those who can't focus for more than two hours, or those who get turned off by the occasional philosophical aside.
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Watchmen". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.


  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    The film is an abridged version of the book, so it'd be a little confusing to a non-reader. That said, to do the story justice, including proper character development, I think it needs to be a 5-6 hour film. It's a tough project to take the source material and adapt it for the big screen, but it swings for the fences, but you only end up with a ground-rule double.

    Casting-wise, I liked Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl and Jackie Haley as Rorschach. Didn't think Malin Akerman did well as Laurie as she's just not good enough of an actress to pull off pivotal scenes, couldn't really stand Matthew Goode as Veidt, but I'm ambivalent on Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan. Carla Gugino did well for a small-ish role.

    At this moment, I think I'd give it 2.75 stars, or a grade of B-.
  5. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer

    Oct 5, 2005
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    Lee Summit, Missouri
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    I admit, I went into "The Watchmen" somewhat skeptical. The book always struck me as something very difficult to translate to the screen because of the lack of characters the audience can sympathize with.

    I don't envy the director's task, fanboys will be fixated on how true to the book the story is; those outside of the fanboys just want a good show. You have to walk the line.

    Just like longer books, many areas have to be excised. Some of this was almost a no-brainer; the storyline of a pirate washing in from the sea simply didn't need screentime. Other elements had to be changed to compensate for the revised ending.

    And in this, the film failed miserably. I've voiced this in the discussion thread, and the more I've thought about it, the more the criticism sticks with me. Kicking out elements of the story was a requirement to fit within the time you can have a film. But the film went through the conceit of aluding to these elements later, even when it detracted or made the changes elsewhere seem out of touch with the rest of the story.

    Having the Journal get to the papers at the end was interesting, but there was no investment in why that meant anything. The fear people felt over nuclear holocaust? It came across as more ridiculous then real. And, if the squid was crossed out, what was the point with the insertion of genetically engineered pet at the end, etc ? These elements were neat asides for those fanboy comic book purists, but they were distractions from the story as it developed.

    The film also suffered in that some characters were just miscast. No matter how much you can buy Crudup - who is very good in the role of Dr. Manhattan, the role of Veidt is SOO bad that I could have fallen asleep as he appeared.

    The film for me really started to fall apart in the 3rd act, when too many insider winks to the audence became pretty distracting.

    This is a decent film, probably worth the rental. But if this didn't have a gigantic marketing machine behind it, I'd struggle to find any reason why this would be better then crap like "Johny Neumonic". The film doesn't feature special effects that blow your mind, the storytelling becomes too messy about half way through...

    The question book fans will ask is: is it true to the book. Some will say it is insanely so. I, on the other hand, tend to feel as though it completely missed the entire point of the novel.

    But that's me.

    C- [​IMG] [​IMG].5 / :Star: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

    Jul 25, 2000
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    Amazing about sums up my view of the film, very, very well done. Of course I know nothing of the novel so I have nothing to compare it to. I give it an A.
  7. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

    Aug 6, 2001
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    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    I hate to sound like a broken record, but the film was merely decent for me (as well). It has some brilliant images, but they belong to Moore and Gibbons; seeing them in motion didn't add much to their power. I can't really fault Snyder...what options did he have? But seeing the panels come to life is a lark, not exactly a movie.

    I am not slave to the GN, having not read it in a few years. The film captured a decent chunk of it. I thought Haley was exceptional (easily out-Batmanning Batman), and Wilson was also quite good. I didn't mind Ackerman as much, but it might have been her sex appeal at work. I also agree that Goode was woefully miscast, and his reveal speech was a huge missed opportunity. I thought Crudup worked OK.

    The action scenes were well done, though sometimes unnecessarily gory. The score sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. The entire thematic journey just didn't gel for me. There is every chance that the density of the story whooshed over my head on the first viewing, much as the novel did the first time I read it. I'll give it another chance on Blu and see if it grows on me.

    Skillfully done, with devotion to the source material. Make up your own mind, I recommend.
  8. Shad R

    Shad R Supporting Actor

    Oct 8, 2001
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    After watching this movie one word comes to my mind, COOL! It is just plain cool. But it is cool with a serious point to make. It makes you think while at the same time entertaining you. That's a good thing. It does, as others have mentioned, get a tad preachy at times, but I was never distracted by it and thought it flowed well within the story. The action was great, and if you see this with a huge crowd they will indeed be cheering at some of the action scenes involving Rorschach. Visually, this movie looked amazing. I would absolutely recommend this movie.
  9. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

    Sep 30, 2002
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    North Hollywood, CA
    Real Name:
    Brandon Conway
    My thoughts:

    Nailed the overall look. Nailed Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan. Kept the right aspects of the graphic novel in, cut most of the non-essential stuff well.

    Everyone else was fine, if not remarkable. Goode is getting too much hate, IMO.

    I think (novel spoiler) ditching the squid and making it look as though Dr. Manhattan did it worked very well. Almost so well that it may be more intriguing philosophically than the squid (has a Soddom & Gomorrah undertone to it).

    Pacing was good, though the sex scene could have been shortened. That was the only time I felt we were wasting time.

    Seeing a little more aftermath of the destruction at the end on a human level would have helped convey the impact a bit more. Still, the idea is pretty straightforward.

    I think the period music was a tad overdone.

    All that being said, it definitely wasn't the experience reading the novel is. Not a fair comparison, but an inevitable one.

    In the end, a solid film, and a pretty damn good adaptation. I don't think we could have ever gotten a better one.

    I'd give it a 8/10. (I consider Snyder's 300 a 7/10, so he's moving in the right direction.)
  10. Pete-D

    Pete-D Screenwriter

    May 30, 2000
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    It's the 2001 of comic book movies.

    It's uncompromising, daring, cerebral, violent, it deals with real themes, and yes, is sometimes way too self-indulgent. Alan Moore's story ventures into territory that would make even The Dark Knight blush.

    That said, I don't know if Synder is a "visionary" ... he's basically just directly translating the graphic novel, more or less ... but kudos to him for be surprisingly faithful to the source material. Yes there are changes, but considering this is an adaptation of a 400+ page graphic novel, and all the places where a Hollywood suit likely would've demanded changes ... Synder uses his "300" cachet to keep things close.

    Also the opening title sequence is probably worth the price of admission alone, and that is completely a new creation of the director. Really impressive.

    I though the music choices were really uninspired though. The "Times Are a Changing" ... ok, but aping the "Sound of Silence" from "The Graduate"? Ugh.

    It may be too much for one movie, they probably would've been better off splitting it into two, but it's still worth seeing. You can nitpick it to death but the bottom line is you're not likely to see a superhero movie like this again.

    4/5 stars.

    Go see it. It's not perfect, but the Transformers 2 and Terminator 4s and Iron Man 2s of the world can wait for a couple of hours. Your brain just might thank you for it.
  11. Brett_M

    Brett_M Screenwriter

    Nov 19, 2004
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    Mos Eisley Spaceport
    Real Name:
    Brett Meyer
    I saw this today after watching the motion comics DVD. I have no problems with the changes -- in fact, it works better as a film than the original story. Sorry. I'm a fan of the graphic novel but the movie is better than the source in this case. Just my opinion.

    Loved Morgan, Haley, Wilson (my favorite) and Crudup. Great stuff to see and hear from them.

    A special note about Malin Akerman. She is so sexy and appealing. I loved her in this. I thought her performance was nuanced and she handled the material well.

    Goode is getting hammered. I didn't mind him, although his hair sucked.

    I literally went to see this after watching the last 7 chapters of the motion DVD. At about 30 minutes in, I found myself wondering if the film was going to be good. There is a point in the movie where it builds to a crescendo and it was full tilt fun until the end. I will see it again.

    They effectively told the story. I don't think anyone would be lost if they had no prior knowledge of the graphic novel.

    Special note #2 -- Carla Gugino is absolutely smokin' hot as Silk Spectre. Both she and Akerman have Snyder to thank for making them the hottest woman on screen right now. Gorgeous.

    This is not a "wait and rent" flick. See it on the big screen.

  12. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

    Nov 1, 1998
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    I haven't been to the movies since Nov 2007, and that was a family outing to see the uninteresting Bee Movie. Needless to say, not much has gotten me to leave the confines of my home theater for the uncertainty of sitting next to or near loudmouth dipshits (which did occur when two jackoffs snuck in at the beginning of the last act). I actually dread walking into a movie theater these days, which is why Watchmen pulled at least one heroic feat by getting me to actually buy a movie ticket.

    Overall, I liked it. I liked it quite a bit, in fact. I’m thisclose to loving it. The movie started to really come together around the time they sprang Rorschach from jail, and even though I embraced the movie from the first frame, I wasn’t sure if I really loved it. I definitely want to see the EE when it comes out on video – there are probably a dozen set pieces I could watch repeatedly because they are executed so well (including all of Rorschach’s action scenes). There were moments that were breathtakingly perfect, the kind of moments that allow you to overlook the many flaws.

    The visuals are stunning, amazing, phenomenal, capital “A” Awesome. Zack Snyder is brilliant when it comes to translating the look and feel of comic book panels into moving images, and he really brought the comic book to life -- everything from Rorschach's mask to Dr. Manhattan (blue penis and all) jumped right off the page. The fights, in particular, as brutal as they were, were beautifully composed. My only visual quibble was Laurie's costume -- it was not as sexy as the one in the book, but then again, Malin Ackerman is not zaftig enough to pull it off anyway.

    Wilson’s Dan Dreiberg was well done, and Morgan’s sweaty Comedian was just about perfect. But Haley’s Rorschach was the most perfect of all the casting, from his diminutive stature to the facial similarity. Ackerman was just physically wrong for the part but was okay. Goode’s Veidt was uneven – they fey delivery was an interesting interpretation, but clashed with the Graphic Novel’s establishment of a studly hero. His was also physically off, as his profile just doesn’t match the one in the comic, looking more like a young Robert Carradine than a young Robert Redford. Frewer’s small part as Moloch was the only one to rival Haley’s Rorschach for being an eerily perfect translation.

    The movie has three big flaws. The first was that the dialog that worked on the page oftentimes just didn’t work coming out of the actors’ mouths. As a result, a lot of the performances came off as odd, and the conversational scenes were a bit off putting. I grimaced more than once at a badly delivered line that was not necessarily the actor’s fault. The occasional flashes humor in the GN didn't translate well at all -- I think there were maybe four laughs in the entire movie. There were some scenes that should have been tightened or edited but in his devotion to the source, went on too long. Another issue was that viewers who have read this GN multiple times (as I did) do not find any surprises or discoveries in the course of the movie. Even the ending was only altered in specifics – the outcome was the same. In effect, I felt like Dr. Manhattan as I watched the film, knowing exactly what was going to happen next except that I was a bit fuzzy about the ending. The only thing that felt unknown was keeping tabs on what was cut or ever so slightly altered (for instance, what happened to the Snow Segways?). Everything in the film was just about 1:1 with the GN. And the chapter structure of the GN does not allow the movie to flow as a single work – it stops and starts with each chapter, shifting abruptly in tone and plot, feeling more like a marathon viewing of a TV series than a singular film.

    All of these issues arise from hewing so closely to the source material. Scenes that are meant to be twists and surprises in the narrative have a “been there, done that” feel to them – finding out that Blake is Laurie’s father
    has absolutely no impact, nor do any of the major plot turns of the movie. I do realize, however, that many of the things that I love about the movie (including, oddly enough, the fidelity to the GN) would not be possible if Snyder hasn’t set out to make such a faithfully rendered project. Had Synder started tinkering with the underpinnings of the movie with both dialog and plot, the studio would have stepped in to make many multiple “suggestions” including getting the 100+ million dollar film to a PG-13 rating. Snyder’s adherence to the source material was both a shield and an anchor, losing all suspense and surprise but gaining the opportunity to convert the page to the screen with minimal studio tinkering – any arguments over recommended changes began and ended with, “that’s not how it is in the book”.

    As a fanboy, I will have to thank Synder for forcing through this vision, as it is preferable to the mutant Watchman movie directed by Brett Ratner or McG that would have disappointed and pissed me off to no end. Had that happened, I would have lamented, “I wish someone had made an almost frame by frame translation of the graphic novel, because it is perfect as it is”.

    Be careful what you wish for.
  13. Mr. Film

    Mr. Film Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 8, 2009
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    I loved it. Or liked it a lot.[​IMG] I thought the imagery was incredible and they really did master the look of the graphic novel.

    The Acting: When the film first started I thought to my self, "This is gonna be crap!". That was mainly due to the opening credits scene with I did think was horrible. John (Dr. Manhattan) was done horribly. Billy didn't seem to care about the part. He seemed so lifeless and his voice just didn't fit the character well. Niteowl 2 and Silk Specter was also very cheesy acting. Rorschach/ Walter Kovacs was a whole another story. Jackie Early Haley did a wonderful job displaying the dark and disturbed character of Rorschach.

    Special Effects: In today's day and age of over CGIed films and thing is possible in the world of film. Nothing in this movie really stood out as "stunning" compared to some of the special effects films that are coming out nowadays.

    Overall: Overall it was a fun, violent, action packed movie that raises questions and controversies that most Hollywood movies wouldn't bring up. It is a true masterpiece of a graphic novel and not a bad movie either.

    Music: Horrible. Simpley awful.

  14. Chris Atkins

    Chris Atkins Producer

    May 9, 2002
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    Very, very good film. Like a five course meal, with different flavors and textures throughout. Definitely need to see it again to chew a bit more on the philosophy of the film, but the technical aspects were absolutely excellent. Can't wait to see it again.

    EDIT: as an FYI, I've never read the graphic novel and know nothing about it or the characters.
  15. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator

    Mar 4, 2001
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    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer
    "Watchmen", for all its horrors, could not go on long enough. It is comic made cinema, true to all themes. I wanted to devour every scene, bask in the details.

    Watchmen considers an alternate US history, set in 1984 where masked crusaders (superheroes) are real. And it considers it a very dim prospect. And it is uncompromising in its thematic pursuit of the story that flows from this. It is a difficult story: violent, bloody, and cynical. But it understands people are capable of change, of love, and redemption. But mostly that we are small, broken, and exist in a world of compromise, at best.

    Watchmen the movie is wholly true to the style and theme, if not the exact details, of the comic. This is rated "R" for good reason. When bloody, it is fully violent showing clearly how persons are mutilated. Full frontal nudity of azure-blue, superhuman Dr. Manhattan. Upper nudity of one or more female characters, and a reasonably explicit sex scene. And good use of profanity in places.


    I was fully engaged with this movie. Except for one, this is not a movie to give us gleeful, adolescent jubilation of good-guy / bad-guy fight scenes. Here, violence is painful, often sadistic, and likely lethal. It is horrible. And it is gripping.

    The story is smart, if somewhat contorted -- but is true to the comic. And the ending is cynical, depressing -- or hopeful, depending on one's perspective. This has the greatest change from the book, but I think it was for the better.

    If you thought The Dark Knight candy-coated human nature, Watchmen is for you. If you liked the comic, you must see it. If you want an intelligent, provocative superhero movie, here's your movie. But if you like the more optimistic joys of X-Men (which I truely do) but find Batman too much, this is not for you.
  16. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

    Nov 1, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Lou Sytsma
    I'll continue the trend of saying this was a good bordering on great movie at times but was constantly undercut by little flaws here and there.

    The R aspects of the material did not bother me but overall seemed gratuitous and unnecessary. These are Snyderisms I expected going in. The CGI was dodgy at times and nothing effects wise really stood out.

    I liked the ending of the movie better than the graphic novel. In the end though I did not empathize with any of the characters and thus was never emotionally invested.

    I suspect the Director's Cut edition may alleviate some of my issues.

    Snyder has proved himself capable on the technical and physical side of film making. He has yet to show any artistry or grasp of the emotional components of making a film.

    7.5 out of 10
  17. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

    Dec 4, 2001
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    Caught this on the IMAX screen yesterday.....a truly well done translation of the comic miniseries/graphic novel. I haven't read it in 20 years (man, I feel old [​IMG] ) but the film certainly brought me up to speed. I loved every fantastic minute of it. [​IMG]

    I thought that the acting was pretty good all around.....I particularly liked the interaction between Patrick Wilson & Jackie Earle Haley the best. Their 'buddy' relationship certainly emphasized their symmetry as two sides of the same coin - one an idealist who believes in justice and knows where to draw the line...the other a bitter, paranoid sociopath looking for conspiracies and unrestrained vengence everywhere. That was particularly well done. I also don't understand the hate for Goode and Crudup's performances.....Crudup in particular portrayed Manhattan with appropriate restraint for a superbeing becoming less interested with humankind as he has evolved far enough beyond them to realize how insignificant they are to him. His delivery was almost HAL-like which I am very happy with.

    The action scenes were intense and very brutal.....you could almost feel the bones break. [​IMG]

    Kudos to Zack Snyder for delivering on the goods....this is truly one of the best comicbook films I have seen. Bravo!

    I cannot wait for this to arrive on Blu-ray! I may have to see this one more time in the theatres before then.


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