Reviewer thinks ‘Watchmen’ worth watching

David Wiens

After months of pleasantly uninformative trailers and stray mentions about the expectations and importance of this movie from the fans of the graphic novel, part of me was relieved when “Watchmen” finally opened because and the speculation was going to end.

With high hopes from practically everyone, as evidenced by the Hollywood 14 offering 12 showtimes on its opening day, the bitter little skeptic in me was thinking there was no way that it could match the hype it had built for itself. After all, considering “The Fantastic Four,” “Ironman,” “Superman Returns” and “The Dark Knight,” the success of superhero, comic book, and graphic novel interpretations is wildly unpredictable.

Going in, I knew relatively little about the story it had been based on, only that it was supposed to be a more honest creation of the kinds of people who would dress in costumes and seek vigilante justice. I had deliberately avoided most information about the plot because it is not often the trailers restrain themselves from giving away way too much and I was not about to go digging around trying to spoil the surprise. But I digress.

“Watchmen” was a spectacular movie. I say that plainly and briefly because seeing it will be much more enjoyable if you don’t read the more detailed analysis that follows. Although you should also be aware that this not a movie to take your kids or parents to because it is unflinching about portraying the story’s many issues of violence, sex and mental instability.

If your desire for information still has you reading this, I suppose you would like to know more about what actually makes “Watchmen” such a good movie.

“Watchmen” is mostly told through the film noir narration of Rorschach, who is the only active superhero in the 1980s after Nixon, still the president and well past his sixth term, outlaws masked-vigilante activity. After former superhero/rapist/murderer the Comedian is killed, Rorschach tracks down other retired heroes with concerns that this is the beginning of a pattern. His warnings, however, may be for naught because the looming threat of nuclear war with Russia grows each day. Worse still, America’s insurance, the god-like Dr. Manhattan, has become disconnected from humanity, and he has abandoned everything for the emptiness and simplicity of Mars.

As the plot unfolds, a series of flashbacks show that the two generations of vigilantes have been littered with people whose flaws seem to have amplified along with their strength and speed. The brutally human aspects of the characters is what makes this such a worthwhile film. The characters’ depth and complexity provides a drastic counterpoint to the flatly heroic nature of other comic characters.

Although the movie approaches close to three hours in length, I can honestly say for the first time in a while I did not check my watch once during the entire movie. “Watchmen” is an incredible accomplishment both as a graphic novel and a movie, and it brings hope that we’ll be seeing more movies like “Ironman” and less like “Ghost Rider.”