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PCR #467 (Vol. 10, No. 10) This edition is for the week of March 2--8, 2009.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Watchmen"  by Mike Smith
Comic Book Confidential: Watchmen  by ED Tucker
Missing Boaters .... Must Be A Side Effect .... Manny Caves .... Farewell, Great One .... Free Agency! .... .... ....  by Chris Munger
Get Well Soon .... Musical Notes .... Passing On .... On The Road .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Rated: R
Running Time: 2 hours 41 mins

1985. As Richard Nixon begins his fifth term, the world is moving closer and closer to nuclear war between the United States and Russia. The cause of this trouble is the increasing demand of energy from both countries. In his high rise apartment, Edward Blake is attacked in an apparent robbery. During the struggle he is thrown to his death. A husky voice informs us “In New York City, a comedian died tonight.”

Based on the classic graphic novel by Alan Moore (who has taken his name off of the project) and Dave Gibbons, “Watchmen” is a visually stunning film with one problem…it doesn’t know when, or where, to end. The story begins in the years before World War II. As crime gets more violent, the police often find themselves outnumbered. Enter the Minutemen, a group of costumed heroes that not only help the police catch evil doers, but dish out a much more painful justice then the law can. After the war, the super posse assisted our government in, apparently, everything of historical importance. From the assassination of JFK to the end of the Vietnam war (after President Nixon asks one of the heroes to intervene the war is over in a week. Apparently this caused congress to repeal the 22nd amendment to the constitution because, as mentioned above, the country is entering its 17th year of Tricky Dick. Apparently no longer in need of their help, the government puts a ban on those who wear a mask, driving most of the second generation heroes (the ones from WWII have long retired) underground, forced to lead normal lives. The only one not forced to hide is Dr. Manhattan (Crudup), a brilliant scientist whose energy based accident in the 1960s has left him as pretty much the smartest man on the planet, able to create, or destroy, almost on command. Enter Rorschach (Haley), who is investigating the original murder of his friend Blake, also known as the Comedian.

Not only do the films’ characters literally descend off the pages, the look of the world, 20 years ago, also take its cues from original illustrator Gibbons. Full screen images of flying blimps and two of the worlds’ most recognizable skyscrapers lend the film an exciting visual beauty presented seamlessly. The cast does an exemplary job of inhabiting their characters, with special recognition going to Haley. After more than a quarter decade away from film he made an incredible comeback in 2007’s “Little Children,” earning an Oscar nomination. Here, with his face mostly obscured by a mask whose dark splotches constantly change, the emotion is portrayed through, and with, his voice. Wilson (Haley’s co-star in “Little Children”) also does well as Nite Owl II and Jeffrey Dean Morgan is very strong in flashbacks portraying the Comedian, though he eerily resembles Robert Downey, Jr. in a big mustache. As Dr. Manhattan, Crudup is strong and silent, even though most of the time his character, because of his condition, is completely naked. Though he does occasionally sport a pair of briefs, one of his powers appears to be forgetfulness as he often shows up without them on. Facing you. Get the picture?

Director Snyder, director of “300,” seems to pick up from where that film ended. Like “The Dark Knights” Christopher Nolan, he is one of the new true visionaries in Hollywood. My only complaint is the film is about 40 minutes too long. Though I’m sure the length is due to Snyders attempt to be as faithful to the original source material as possible, side trips to Mars and a prolonged showdown give the film a weight it doesn’t need. On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Watchmen” .


This week's movie review of "Watchmen" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.