Director's Cut + BD-Live
Actors: Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Malin Akerman, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley
Director: Zack Snyder
Genres: Action & Adventure
Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 07/21/2009 Run time: 128 minutes Rating: R
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This Is The Masterpiece We Never Thought Would Ever Happen
The Great Rocky Hill | Pittsburgh, PA USA | 03/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
Let me be blunt.
Alan Moore should eat crow and be proud of this movie. "Unfilmable" it most certainly wasn't.
And the fanboys all need to take a laxative. This was in at least some ways better than the maxi-series/graphic novel, which will never be demoted from its status as a classic of its medium.
Aside from the overly graphic violence, a gratuituous sex scene, and Dr. Manhattan's needless nudity (he needed to wear pants, and seeing his genitalia added nothing to the plot)I really have nothing negative to say about Watchmen.
Let's diffuse some of the criticisms I've come across.
Yes, Matthew Goode was foppish as Ozymandias. He's supposed to be that way. He's not intended to exude menace. That's his style. A villian as sublime as Ozymandias is subtle. Coming across as overtly malevolent would have caused his plans to fail. His slender, Aryan appearance and slight German accent made him the perfect choice to play the type of foe who believes that the murder of millions is the only way to save the world.
Which brings me to the casting. There was not one actor who didn't fit their respective character like Rorschach's inkblot mask. The decisions made concerning who should play who were more accurate than any comic book movie I can think of.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Comedian was Burt Reynolds as a misogynist sociopath. It was as if the character himself was directly lifted from the pages of the graphic novel and given life. It was uncanny how Morgan captured this character's all too easy violence, his nonchalant, happy penchant for brutality.
I said in a review of Batman:The Dark Knight that Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker was unfathomably good, especially considering Ledger's teen idol pedigree.
Jackie Earle Haley's Rorschach dethrones Ledger's Joker in that regard. From out of some forgotten void, a former heart throb returns to play a madman akin to Robert DeNiro's Travis Bickle or Michael Douglas' William Foster. My money would be on Haley's Rorschach as Steve Ditko's right-wing Objectivist Mr. A, the analogue for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' character, is channeled with such a chilling and disturbed beauty. His guilt is blended with an intolerance as he claims that the dead heroine Silhouette met her fate due to being a lesbian. When Haley takes off the mask, things become even more unnverving as you see how "fascinatingly ugly" Walter Kovacs, Rorschach's alter ego is, inside and out. Again, having a former Tiger Beat hero play such a character was just remarkable to me. 20 years from now, people will never believe that Haley was once a Bad News Bear, and for that alone he deserves an Oscar. Seriously. His performance is more than enough to recommend this film to anyone.
None of the other performances disappoint. Patrick Wilson's Nite Owl also deserves mention as he nails down the David Brinkley (from Robert Mayer's obscure but very influential 1977 novel 'Superfolks') as Batman that Moore and Gibbons intended Nite Owl to be. He's awkward, stuffy, insecure, and rusty in crimefighting and life in general, and Wilson flawlessly gets that across.
As an aside, and us comics fans need to face this fact, the film versions of Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, and Ozymandias absolutely trump the comics versions in terms of design. Silk Spectre is sexier, Nite Owl is fierce, sleek, and punches his wonky-looking comics counterpart back to DC's Silver Age, and here Ozymandias is a Greek god compared to Gibbons' take.
Some people are complaining that Malin Akerman's Silk Spectre was dry, but I thought she was fine. In fact, she was just the right mixture of innocent and sultry and thusly kept with the spirit of not only Silk Spectre herself but also of the characters that inspired Moore and Gibbons to create her. Akerman was one mod version of Phantom Lady or Nightshade.
Remember, they're all analogues because if they weren't, we wouldn't have had any Blue Beetle or Question tales in the 80's.
Carla Gugino is quite the aging diva here. Her makeup job as a senior (The Silk Spectre's mother and predecessor) is so astonishing you'd think she was an unknown. In the flashback sequences she is the epitome of retro eroticism.
She sees herself in an underground porn comic and is flattered. Wow.
And speaking of unknowns, can anyone honestly think of any famous actors who would have done as well or better in these roles? Yet another reason why Watchmen is such a success. John Cusack as Nite Owl? Please.
So the casting was faithful as was the entire movie for the most part, thereby squashing another gripe the fans had. I'll even go as far as to say that Watchmen works so well because it is very faithful to its source material.
Yes, the ending is somewhat different, yet is pretty much the same. Ozymandias stages nuclear attacks instead of an alien invasion to unite mankind, "killing millions to save billions" as he himself would put it.
You know, when I read the Watchmen chapter in David Hughes' book "The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made," and saw that Sam Hamm didn't feel that the ending of the original comics story "worked" for him, I knew then and there that the makers of Watchmen the film weren't going to completely stick to Moore and Gibbons' vision. And that slight difference (it's just a parallel path to the same destination) only made for a better movie.
Alien invasions are not timely in any period, let alone this alternate Nixon-led 1985 or 2009. The threat of mutually assured nuclear holocaust is. If humanity is to be dealt a serious blow, it will be by humanity's own hand, not something from beyond our solar system.
What we have with the cinematic Watchmen, is what I believe we had with the original tale. It's a treatise on those who rule the world, masked as a superhero yarn, which in turn is masked as a murder mystery. It makes you think, and at the same time is mindful of that needed sense of wonder. It's scary, nihilistic, exciting, provocative, and its ending is as hopeful as it is troubling.
The tale of the Watchmen is like a railroad track that is built with the best of aims yet leads to nowhere but perdition. What will our elites do, or what are they above or not above doing to improve the human condition? Who in power can we trust? In the movie, we see Nixon, Kissinger, and other real-life malefactors who did what they did for personal gain. What of Ozymandias? What did he stand to gain? Did he really love humankind or have nothing but detached contempt for it? We see this with Billy Crudup's Dr. Manhattan as well, although Manhattan suffers from disappointment and heartbroken selfishness, whereas Ozymandias has this sense of birthright to save the world from itself by way of genocide.
I may need to dig out my copy of Watchmen the graphic novel as it has admittedly been a few years since I last perused it, but as a comics fan of 30 years, as someone who holds comics in the highest regard as an artform and recognizes the Moore/Gibbons masterwork as deserving of its status, I will state that Watchmen was more than worth the wait. One could even make a case that it's a better movie because it took so long to happen, that development hell aided in making it what it is.
And it bears repeating, Watchmen, with some minor and essential tweaking, is reverent of the comic book, and that reverence is another component that makes the movie so engrossing.
There was a time when I didn't think that a Watchmen film should be made. However, upon seeing the final product, I am left with some questions.
Why isn't Alan Moore rejoicing?
And why isn't comics fandom rejoicing along with him?
Even if you've never read a comic book in your life, I strongly recommend Watchmen. If it doesn't make you a fan of the comic book or of comics in general, then you didn't enjoy the film, and if you didn't enjoy the film, I have nothing left to say to you. If you think that your unfamiliarity with the characters, the fact that they aren't icons like Batman and Spider-Man, will hinder your enjoyment, remind yourself of the Hellboy phenomenon. Hellboy was a mid-level character that has never had an ongoing series and was published by a company that was not Marvel or DC. He has since been the subject of a pair of moviehouse blockbusters. Also be mindful of the the popular Men In Black franchise and its origin as an obscure independent comic book. From the looks of it, the heroes/villians (are they one and the same?) of Watchmen are about to join that club.
If you are a comics fan and haven't seen it yet, leave the nitpicker in you at home, allow yourself to be surprised in the best way possible, and go ahead and be a little smug as the closing credits roll. You deserve it for being so far ahead of the curve.
A monument of comics finally has a cinematic counterpart. Hold your head high.
Additional changes for Director's Cut
Senor Zoidbergo | Washington D.C. | 07/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The director's cut runs about 25 minutes longer, and incorporates more elements from the comics, adds more violence, as well as more shots of Dr. Manhatten's schlong. Some of the previous scenes are reworked with additional dialogue. Information has been supported by sites such as AICN etc.
Overall, the storyline and conversations are better fleshed out, and this version is truer to the comics. The largest additional addition is that of Hollis Mason's death, which is spectacularly directed to the score of the Intermezzo from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana (think Godfather III).
(1) Rorschach gets additional dialogue, some straight from the comics.
(2) When Rorschach searches the Comedian's apartment shortly after the opening scene, he encounters two cops still stationed there. He fights briefly with them before jumping back out the window.
(3) Conversation between Dan and Rorschach (beans scene) is extended.
(4) All flashbacks extended, with the exception of Sally's.
(5) Dr. Manhatten discussing the symbol on his forehead. Additional questions in the face to face with Dr. Manhatten. Dan and Hollis watch Dr. Manhatten go crazy on their TV set.
(6) Laurie getting interrogated by the military as they try to determine Dr. M's whereabouts (on Mars). Alessandro Juliani's (Lt. Gaeta from Battlestar Galactica) scene has been reinserted. He plays one of the scientists who bursts in during the interrogation of Laurie to tell the military that they've located Dr. M on Mars.
(7) Probably the biggest addition is the depiction of Hollis Mason's death at the hands of the knot heads. Interestingly, the death is done from poor Hollis' POV, where he imagines himself fighting the gangsters of the 1940s. He delivers left and right hooks to Captain Evil, before being done in by "Moloch". The score for the death scene is very fitting.
(8) Dan taking revenge on an isolated knot head at a bar, post Hollis' death. It's a brutal revenge.
(9) The shootout by hired hitman Roy Chess is much more brutal- e.g. more blood and gore, fingers blown off.
(10) Conversation between Dr. Long and Rorschach is extended.
(11) Longer jail-break scene with arguments between Rorschach and Laurie. Prison guards open fire on Dan's ship.
(12) Longer conversation between Dr. M and L on Mars.
(13) Riot scene is longer with more conversation between the Comedian and the rioters.
(14) Agent Forbes (Fulvio Cecere) has a larger role as the government agent in charge of handling all the Watchmen.
This is THE version to get. It feels complete.
Better than theatrical release, but more to come in December
J. W. Luther | Rolla, Missouri United States | 08/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This edition is an improvement over the theatrical release and is closer to the book. My only disappointment related to this edition was that I opened the package to find a coupon for the ULTIMATE edition, which is to be released Decemberish. The next (and I hope final) version will have the Black Freighter story woven into the main story as it is in the book. If you don't want multiple versions of this film, hold off buying until the end of the year.
I agree with the other reviewers who note the film's ending is an improvement over the book's. It just makes more sense in the context of the story. This is not a knock on Mr. Moore, of whom I am a big fan.
I don't understand the folks who are so down on this film, unless it is that they just had the wrong expectations and/or didn't do their homework before watching it. It was never meant to be another Spiderman, Superman or Hulk story.
Kudos to Mr. Moore. Kudos for the team who produced this film."
kindasorta | 07/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although its not for everyone, I'm really surprised by the number of negative reviews. Did any of you who blasted this movie for violence, sex, nudity etc. ever read the graphic novel? Everything that was in the book was included in the movie. In fact I'd go so far as to say that its one of the most faithful adaptation of a comic ever done. Dr Manhattans nudity? In the book. The kidnapped girl scene? In the book. The lengthy dialog, violence, and complex story? All in the book. The dialog, and the cinematography are almost an exact replication of the book. So if you didn't like the book you probably wont like the movie, and vice versa. I tend to consider myself very picky with movies and not easily impressed, and I sincerely think The Watchmen is one of the best "hero" movies ever filmed, and like the book, it will redefine the way Hollywood approaches the superhero genre.
Its not your typical hero fare...there's no nerdy kid with avenging dead parents swinging through the night. No ridiculous dance scenes or costumes with nipples. Not alot of kung fu fighting or massive explosions every 10 seconds. This is a 'thinking mans' superhero movie. Its more a statement about the society that these heroes live in rather than the heroes themselves. So if you're looking for a flash bang beat em up hero flick, this aint it. This one is more dialog and idea based. Want a hero movie that will make you think? This is it.
I really think that time will vindicate this film, and years from now critics will look back on this film as the one that changed the superhero film. Brilliantly directed, perfectly cast, and uncompromising in its re-creation of Alan Moore's vision. Well worth a purchase for those who want something new.