I should start out by saying that I am not a “movie person.” I don’t go movie theaters, I don’t buy DVDs and I don’t have a Netflix account. No offense to anyone who is an enthusiast, but, with rare exceptions, the only movies I will see are the ones that are on basic cable at a time when nothing else is on.
That being said, I had to see Watchmen. No, I’m not a fanatic that read the comic book and had to see how the movie couldn’t do it justice – The only comics that I read were the type with a stuffed tiger and a transmogrifier. The reason that I had to go see Watchmen were the murmurs that I would hear about it everywhere. I started skeptical, but one friend would tell me how incredible the movie was sure to be, a professor told me that it was time to get on the bandwagon, another friend was quick to tell me that it made Time’s list of the 100 greatest novels since 1923. I couldn’t resist and told my friends that they we had to go see it when it came out, an event that was still months away when my interest was piqued.
Then the reviews started coming in. As the critics started to give their take on the movie, I started to get worried. The New Yorker wrote that it was a flop comparable to that of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, with the film reaching its high point in the first ten minutes. Newsweek said that the meticulousness with which the film had followed the book had backfired. It seemed that the only good reviews of the movie were in its commercials. I was getting nervous.
Finally the time came, and, unsure to expect greatness or something that made three hours seem like an eternity, I saw it. The reasons why the critics lambasted it were clear. The plot jumped from loosely-connected point to loosely-connected point until the last five minutes. A solid share of the cast was largely lacking in personality – most notably the duo of Night Owl and Silk Spectre – a pair that seemed there only to advance a plot in a movie where everyone else is given elaborate back-story and depth. But how anyone could leave without plenty of good things to say is beyond me. While there were some characters that lagged, there were clear standouts as well. Rorschach, played by Jackie Earle Haley, had intensity that you could not take your eyes off of – Haley really made psychopathic moral crusader come to life. The best character in the film was The Comedian, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a character possessed cynical worldview that still managed to be unique and captivating. The films visuals were also outstanding, with powerful visuals (the most prominent of which is the smiling face with a single drop of blood on it as well as action scenes that came off as neither over-the-top nor unbelievable. And while the plot does not come together until the last five minutes, at least it comes together in a good way and not an M. Night Shyamalan way.
While there were problems with this movie, just as there are with just about any movie, I did not leave the movie feeling like I had been duped into wasting my time. While I’m still not a movie person after seeing Watchmen, I am glad that I bought into the hype and made an exception this time.