Like any atheist geek worth his salt, I used to be a big comic book nerd back in the ’80s. But I had never read the Watchmen comics or (::gasp::) even heard of them. Maybe that’s because I was into Marvel comics instead of DC. Or because my home town sucked and we never got anything that was really “cool” by my standards. I could never get my hands on the Secret Wars comics back then either. Still, I could hardly wait to see Watchmen (the movie) when I saw the previews at the theater. I checked the web sites to see who liked it (the reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 65%) and who didn’t (Metacritic gave it 56%, which is pretty average). So I wasn’t sure what I was in for when I went to see it last Saturday.
So was it awesome, or did I leave weeping bitterly and shaking my fist at a cruel, cruel world?
Well … that’s a complex question. At first, I started to pull away from the film. After what seemed like fifteen minutes of alternate history publicity photos spanning like 50 years in the Watchmen’s United States, we’re treated to some heavy handed narration by Rorschach. (Though there is a pretty vicious fight scene just before that.) What do I mean by heavy handed? Try this out for size:
Rorshach’s Journal. October 12th, 1985.
Dog carcass in alley this morning. Tire tread on bird’s stomach. This city’s afraid of me. I’ve seen it’s true face. The street’s are extended gutters. And the gutters are full of blood. And when the drains finally scab over, all of [couldn’t make this word out] will finally drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will fold up around their waists. All the whores and politicians will look up and shout, “Save us!” And I’ll whisper, “No.”
There were other moments in the movie where I pulled away. Like when the audience laughed the first few times they showed Dr. Manhattan’s weirdly inanimate smurf penis.
Yeah, I’d go with Silk Spectre 2.
But there were also plenty of cool moments. Some very violent fight scenes, which we haven’t seen a lot of since the good old 80s. (Damn Soccer Mom’s and focus groups!) Or the times when hot chicks in nothing but thigh-high jack boots were getting banged by super dudes. Then again, I have mixed feelings about the scene where Silk Spectre 1 (played by Threshold‘s super-hotty, Carla Gugino) was almost raped by the Comedian.
I really liked the themes and questions behind the story. How many real people would become super heroes instead of villains if mere mortals could have “super powers” like you see in the comics? What kind of person would it take to refuse the temptations that sort of power brings? How many of them would ever get it right? Of course, most of the heroes in Watchmen don’t technically have super powers. But I think this movie handled these sorts of questions way better than Hancock.
I found it much easier to get into the movie as time passed. By the end, I was thinking that I wanted to see it again. I think I’ll have to if I want to really appreciate the whole thing. My suggestion is that geeks should see Watchmen. Just make sure you’re in the mood for something dark (which is totally in keeping with my tastes) and a bit melodramatic (which is not so much in keeping with my tastes).
Here’s a little more in the way of photos to think about.
Not exactly Silk Spectre 1 doable,
but totally doable all the same.
If Carla Gugino is in it,
I have to see it!
So enjoy Watchmen, the movie. And chicks in high-heeled jackboots.