Watchmen Movie Review: Loving The Watchmen

While one of my fellow Comicbook.com writers weighed in with his Watchmen movie review on opening weekend, I was one of those rare souls who didn’t rush to see the movie immediately. Ok, I had a travel conflict, but I finally got the chance to see the Watchmen movie over its second weekend of release. My reaction: when it was good, it was REALLY good. When it was bad, boy did it stink. I'll break my thoughts into two columns. Today, the good: Jeffrey Dean Morgan/The Comedian - Time will tell on his performance, but if I had to rate it today, I'd say that Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Comedian performance is one for the ages. Right now, it's in the top five of all time comic book role adaptations. Some of you may think I'm crazy, but I'd put it right up there with Heath Ledger. Why? Because, like Ledger, Morgan got into the heart and mind of the character. Hell, as I was watching it, I could have sworn that Morgan must have channeled Alan Moore, because that character was the EXACT one from the page. Amazing. The range of emotions was there. You felt the Comedian's violence, his lack of tolerance, his sadness. The Comedian is the microcosm of Watchmen, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan brought every bit of that world to the screen. Violence - As anyone that has read the graphic novel knows, Watchmen is pretty violent. So is the film, and I'm grateful for that. No, I'm not advocating violence--if anything, I shy away from violent films. But in this case, we had to see the sheer brutality of humans, because that is a major theme of the story. We had to understand what the novel was telling us--that there are a lot of really bad people out there. And there are a lot of folks that want to stop the bad guys. But the good guys span the gamut--from law abiding cops to crimefighters like Silk Spectre II and Nite Owl II to monsters like Rorschach that will stop at nothing to get the bad guys, even if it means he becomes one. Speaking of... Jackie Earle Haley/Rorschach (Walter Kovacs) - Jackie Earle Haley does a fantastic job of bringing the emotionally scarred Rorschach to the screen. We see how young Walter Kovacs learns his definition of right and wrong/good and bad. And we see Kovacs absolutely lose it--and his identity as a real person--when he butchers a murderer of a young girl. Haley forces us to understand how and why he became Rorschach, but true to the book, he doesn't let us like the character. After all, Rorschach, even though he'll do whatever it takes to dispose of the bad guy, is a psycho. And it's precisely BECAUSE he knows no limits that he's crazy. Haley's Rorschach doesn't realize that his actions, at times, are no better than those he's hunting. It's a beautiful take on the role. Patrick Wilson/Nite Owl II (Dan Dreiberg) - To me, Wilson did something that no other actor could accomplish in this adaptation: he added to the character. In the novel, Nite Owl II was, as many have described, very 'Clark Kent-like.' He begins that way in the film for sure, but his transformation exceeds that of the novel. Dreiberg takes us past the nerdy, low self-esteem man we see in the book. He comes to a realization that he is much more than he has recognized, and he powers past his fears. We KNOW he wants Laurie from the moment they lock eyes in their first scene. He's crushed that he can't be with her, and we feel it with him. We WANT him to man up and go for it--not just with the girl, but everything in his life. Wilson's interpretation of the character pulls a wide array of emotions from us, and it almost feels like WE'RE the one going through the transformation. That, to me, is something I didn't get from the character in the novel. In a story that brings a sad dose of reality (see the above items) so hard that it almost punches us in the face, Wilson's Dreiberg is the saving grace. He's the guy that shows us that while there is a ton of bad crap out there, good guys CAN and DO make a difference. Snyder and the Music - EXCELLENT job by Director Zach Snyder to expand on the music phrases found throughout the novel. He slipped the right songs in the right spots to generate the required emotions (who didn't think 'Let's do this!' when "All Along the Watchtower" was playing and Nite Owl II and Rorschach were on the way to take on Veidt?). And he even threw in some songs that weren't in the novel. Anyone catch "Everyone Wants to Rule the World" by Tears For Fears playing in a Veidt scene? In addition, Snyder's music selection most likely helped out those audience members who knew nothing about the story prior to sitting in the theater. With sometimes quick time transitions, I could see how folks could lose their place in the story. The music definitely helped people to keep pace with the timeline. That's it for the good stuff. Look out tomorrow for the bad...