Monday, March 16, 2009
Who Watches the Watchmen? You Should!
Me remembers being admonished some time ago fer being infantile & still indulging in comics at me age. The person doing the admonishing is obviously oblivious to the works of the great Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell etc) & like many others look down on this art form as something unworthy of their intellectual prowess (ie intellectual snobbery).
All me can say to such people, "Yer fooking loss". In case you hadn't cottoned on, the film adaptation of Watchmen is showing now. Me urges you to take some time to watch this epic three-hour tale of superheroes gone bad as it is truly a remarkable piece of celluloid.
You may come across a number of negative reviews of the film but make no mistake, this is a splendid film as director Zack Synder (of 300 fame) has remained faithful to the source material. Speaking of which, Watchmen is largely considered by many fans & critics as the dawn of a new age in comicdom. The 'graphic novel' had arrived & this was where the serious, dark, nihilistic shit happens (fer other classic examples see Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth & Frank Miller's Sin City).
Now, me'll be the first to admit that me is no geeky ultra-obsessive when it comes to comics. They were too expensive to follow as a kid & graphic novels still burn a fooking large hole in the wallet today. But me has the good fortune of being married to a wifey who fastidiously saves her pennies to buy the cream of the crop. Thanks to her good taste, me has had the privilege to read the above mentioned titles in the Moore cannon & many others to boot.
The story is set in the cold war era in the mid-80s & in this alternate reality, superheroes are amongst us & non-govt sanctioned vigilantes have been outlawed. Nixon is still president & the Yanks have triumphed in Vietnam thanks to the Watchmen's help. The film is suitably dark & sinister with extra lashings of graphic violence & sex scenes to remove it from yer typical mass-market superhero movie (such as The Fantastic Four & Spiderman).
Movie starts with the murder of The Comedian & sets in motion the chain of events that sees a plot to bring nuclear annihilation even closer to the doorsteps of mankind. Although the film clocks in at a massive 160-plus minutes, it still is unable to pack in every detail of the book. Still it gives plenty of perspective & background on the character's past as well as staying faithful to the book's original flashback narrative.
Without giving too much away, Watchmen is a brave attempt by Hollywood to give life to one of the genre's most illuminating works. It explores the dark psyche of the masked vigilante (Rorscach's unyielding quest fer justice), the consequences of power without control (the God-like powers of Dr Manhattan set against nuclear destruction) as well as some seminal moments in human history (identity of JFK's assassin is revealed).
A recurring theme in the book/movie is the tag line 'Who watches the Watchmen?' as people demonstrate against the unfettered powers afforded these hooded crime fighters. Well, all me can say is you should. This movie is destined to be a cult-classic. Even Moore who has distanced himself from all movie adaptations of his works concedes that this script probably bears closets resemblance to his original story.
Whether yer a comic fan or not, whether you go to the cinema or get it from yer friendly local DVD emporium, please do watch this film. Visually spectacular, thought-provoking & downright entertaining. What more can you ask fer?
ps: Look forward to reading yer comments on the film.
pps: You can get the graphic novel at Kino Kuniya, Borders & all good comic stores.