Cast: Billy Crudup (Dr. Manhattan), Patrick Wilson (Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl), Malin Akerman (Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre II), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Edward Blake/The Comedian), Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach)
Director: Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead, 300, Sucker Punch, Man of Steel)
Plot: Without giving anything away, the film is about an alternate future (or past, depending on how you look at it). The US won the war in Vietnam, Nixon was elected multiple times (a-la FDR), and the Cold War never ended. Out of fear and/or pressure, the government has cracked down on all costumed vigilantes. They're not superheroes, as they are average people (except for Dr. Manhattan). But then someone keeps killing off the former members of the vigilante group known as The Watchmen. As with most government dealings, things run deeper than they appear on the surface.
Why you should watch it: I find that there are really three general responses to this film: you love it, you hate it, or you've never seen it. It's based on Alan Moore's groundbreaking comic series, later combined into a graphic novel. Let's put it this way - Watchmen made Time Magazine's top 100 novels of all time list. Top. 100. Novels. This means it's on the list with books like Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. Does this mean it's a great movie? No. However I believe that this film never got the credit it's due.
Zack Snyder is known for his stylistic vision, shots filmed from unusual angles, sped up/slowed down scenes, and off-kilter coloring, not to mention his use of the rule of thirds filming technique. Alan Moore disavowed the film, but he's a bit of a perfectionist (and recluse), however I feel that he'd at least appreciate the time Snyder took to try to emulate, not duplicate, his series. Snyder also uses a soundtrack which matches the film to perfection. It's not like the soundtrack of, say, Forrest Gump, which used cliched songs in cliched scenes. About two years ago in DUAN, I brought up the idea of songs used in two movies, for two distinct and differing scenes. The following scene is the example I chose. It was used in The Graduate originally, and used here as well to a much different effect at The Comedian's funeral.
Finally, I love the idea of a "superhero" film that focuses on people who aren't technically superheroes. They are flawed people who are fed up with crime and who have created alternate personas in order to fight crime. What happens when they're not regulated? Who makes sure they're not going too far? Does the government have the right to control them? What happens if they don't want to be controlled? For me, two actors made this movie work: Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian, and in a brilliant stroke of inspired casting, Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. You may remember him as Kelly Leak in The Bad News Bears, as well as a few other films. He fell off the face of the acting Earth, but he returned here with a vengeance. His acting is outstanding, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the tortured Comedian (whose name is a joke in and of itself, as he's a cruel and sadistic killer) to perfection.
Regardless of what you've heard, watch this film. Be honest about your thoughts and let me know in the comments what you think of it.
Availability: DVD, Blu Ray, Streaming, free on Youtube