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Review

‘Watchmen’ contains faults, but reflects graphic novel adequately

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March 12, 2009

Comic book movies definitely seem to be on the rise when it comes to popularity, with Spider-Man and the X-Men taking over the silver screen every few years. These movies have a little sibling of sorts, and that would be the movies based off of graphic novels (And yes, there is a difference between a comic and a graphic novel), such as “Sin City,” “300” and now “Watchmen.” This film is gorgeous to look at, and the story is good, but there are a few drawbacks in the way the film is constructed.

The way that Zack Snyder makes movies by using mostly green screens lends itself perfectly to these types of movies. With an entire character that is computer animated for 90 percent of the film, but still looks believable, audiences need to take note and try to appreciate that. Also, another character that steals the attention of the audience just by the way he looks is the hard-boiled detective-like Rorschach, whose constantly changing mask adds to his mystique and deadly persona. Overall, aside from the characters, the film in general is just a visual treat for movie lovers of all kinds.

The story of “Watchmen” takes place in alternate timeline where Richard Nixon is president long after his second term, due to the fact that America won the Vietnam War with the help of superheroes, who have since been outlawed. The Comedian, a jaded anti-hero if there ever was one, is killed and the other remaining heroes start to realize that they won’t be able to escape their old lives entirely. With the world close to the threat of nuclear war, the situation seems dire indeed. But some heroes still have hope, while others have seemingly given up entirely. The mystery of who is leading the attacks on these heroes is finally revealed, the audience has been thoroughly satisfied not only visually, but story-wise as well.

However, the film is not perfect by any means. The film is nearly three hours long, and it probably could have been done in two and a quarter. The pacing of the film is very slow, and although it definitely adds to the graphic novel feel, it can bore many audience members. One other note is that although nudity shouldn’t distract most American audiences too much these days, there are two things worth mentioning that just seem out of place in the movie.

In the same vein as Snyder’s “300,” the film is complete with a graphic sex scene that seems completely out of place, but as another nod to the graphic novel nature of the film, the full frontal male nudity featured in the book is also present throughout the film. And going back to the visual aspect of the film, if you want to know what $50,000 will get you in this economy, look no further than the blue, fully functional, swinging penis of Doctor Manhattan that is featured on screen almost every time the character is.

So although the movie is quite good, there are still some faults that prevent it from being a great movie. The rampant nudity and pacing of the film do not take away from the plot and visuals within the film, and it is definitely worth seeing on the big screen, or if you can swing it, the bigger screen of an IMAX to get the full experience. So, just remember, if you are looking for a movie that truly tries to be exactly like a graphic novel with its deep story and characters, go to this. Or if you just want to see a movie for the pure comic book entertainment factor, wait for “Wolverine” to come out.

4 stars

Nathan Piotrowski is a digital film and television major with a film studies minor. In his spare time, he attempts to be a professional lottery winner.