Jackie Earle Haley
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Disclaimer: I haven’t read the graphic novel, just keep that in mind.
“Watchmen” takes place in an alternate 1985. During the World War II era, unlike our timeline, super heroes came to be a mainstay in American culture. This both helped and hurt this alternate timeline, as the extra security provided by American heroes has caused the Russians to take increased precautions, further arming their nuclear weapon stockpiles.
The movie starts off with this tense situation between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. Right in the middle of that tension is a murder of one of the Watchmen, a super hero team that has been largely splintered over the years.
Right up front, it should be noted that “Watchmen” is not a standard super hero movie. Instead, it’s a character driven drama with social and political commentary told through the perspectives of super heroes. These super heroes range from costumed vigilante to a fully radiated meta human.
With so many character backstories to explore and political subtext to intertwine, it’s really amazing that this movie came together as well as it did. All of the characters are given their due depth, the political commentary is there and the film is driven from start to finish by its ongoing mystery into who killed one of the Watchmen.
Some great examples of this include a funeral sequence featuring flashbacks and another part where the character Dr. Manhatten, the super human, leaves Earth behind to go to Mars.
Speaking of Dr. Manhatten, played by Billy Crudup, his character along with Jackie Earle Haley’s Rorshach stole most of the show. Both performers fit perfectly in their roles, with Crudup as the detached but still emotional Manhatten and Haley as the never compromising vigilante.
Credit also has to go to Jeffrey Dean Morgan for his anarchanistic portrayal of the vigilante Comedian and Patrick Wilson for his acting as the good hearted hero Night Owl.
Giving less than memorable performances, though, were Malin Akerman as the hero Silk Spectre and Matthew Goode who played the genius billionaire crime fighter Adrian. These two felt a bit out of place in the movie and weren’t that convincing in their delivery.
One aspect that made the movie work well was the music. For example, “The Times are Changing” by Bob Dylan in the opening sequence and “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix toward the movie’s climax.
Director Zack Snyder was also able to bring his visionary style to the picture. This occurred both by how the film’s setting captured the gritty atmosphere of a dark graphic novel while also featuring exciting action sequences.
Despite some lackluster performances, “Watchmen” is still largely a fantastic picture. It’s one of the better comic book movies to come out and lends quite a bit of commentary to go along with its action. 5 out of 5.