Thursday, September 21, 2017

Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  We ask who watches the watchmen but who smells them?

Watchmen:  The Ultimate Cut – 5 out of 5

I’m a pretty big fan of the graphic novel Watchmen from writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons.  The book blew me away as it told a story of superheroes from a perspective never before seen and it altered the industry forever.  For a long time, the story stood as an entity all by itself but, recently, DC introduced the events into their main universe when they launched the Rebirth line.  As a fan, I was hesitant about this decision but ultimately loved how they’ve teased that this world is having some impact on the world where Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest reside.  Since I’ve found I’ve enjoyed this crossover (I highly, HIGHLY, suggest you check out the Batman/Flash crossover called “The Button”), I decided to finally check out a series of books that nostalgia and my own stubborn fandom prevented me from originally checking out; Before Watchmen.  This series of book tells the tales of the characters from Watchmen before the events of the main story.  I won’t get into my mixed feelings about the content of those stories but reading them really got me craving to revisit the film adaptation from 2009 that was directed by Zack Snyder.  In this case, I decided to sit back and once again check out The Ultimate Cut and see if it is still just as awesome as the first time I watched it…and, as you can see from the score, it is!

Such an iconic geek culture image!

After an aging, retired hero by the name of Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is murdered, two of his former colleagues; the deranged Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) and Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), start to investigate a nefarious plot that seems to involve their friends and past teammates:  the smartest man in the world and business mogul; Ozymandias, the daughter of one of the original masked heroes; Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman), and the first man ever to gain superhuman abilities, the near god-like; Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup).  Their investigation soon uncovers that someone is planning a massive attack that will leave millions dead and forever alter the course of human history.

Also, some shit goes down on Mars.  A planet you need to get your ass to.

A friend of mine really like Wilson's butt and loves the
movie so showing it but you got to give it up to
his smile too.  Look at that thing!
Some people I interact with have this belief that I hate Zack Snyder because I hold the stance that he is a great visual director but a terrible director when it comes to telling a story and handling character.  This isn’t me hating the man but rather a real and honest critique of his work.  I think the man makes very visually appealing movies and he can film the living hell out of action.  However, the guy just can’t handle pacing, character and plot at all.  Despite this, I actually think he’s done some great work in his career.  Like, as you can see, I LOVE Watchmen, I think his remake of Dawn of the Dead is fun, 300 is amazeballs and I think Sucker Punch is a gorgeous film with entertaining action and a terrific soundtrack (although the story is something to be desired).  I don’t hate the guy but when you tell the fanboys that you went into Batman v Superman excited but walked out very disappointed, they hear it as, “I WANT ZACK SNYDER DEAD!!!”  Hell, I will admit to there are a lot of things in BvS that I liked too but the man does have numerous and very obvious shortcomings.  Basically, he is really good at making 2 hour long trailers that look fantastic but are mucked up by periodic slow storytelling.  Watchmen, however, I think is where he was at his most competent and I think it will be the best film he’s ever done.

Actual representation of a DC fanboy yelling at me and telling me that I'm not
"mature enough" for DC when I say I was disappointed with Batman v Superman.

Fan reaction to this adaptation when it came out in 2009 was mixed.  Some loved how close it was to the source material while others hated it because it was too close.  This proved, once again, that fanboys are impossible to please.  For me, I was a big fan of how faithful the writers and Snyder kept the feature.  Everything from the set design, to the colors felt dead on to the comic—Hell, Snyder even went as far as mirroring panels for shots.  There were some obvious changes as the costumes don’t specifically match and there was a major story element that was changed but it didn’t destroy how highly I think of this comic adaptation.  I’ll be 100% honest here; the major change to the story is actually an improvement from the book.


I think enough time has passed where I can talk about the ending of the movie and compare it to the film—Spoilers just can’t exist here, people.  The comic came out in the back half of the 80s and it’s been 8 years since the film came out.  In the comic, Ozymandias orchestrates an elaborate plot that will fool the world that an alien race has invaded the planet and a common enemy will unite the surviving people in peace and harmony.  In the film, this alien creature is completely eliminated from the story and, instead, Ozymandias plans on making Dr. Manhattan a scapegoat and replicates his powers and uses it as an attack on the world, making Manhattan the common enemy for everyone to unite under.  

Look, Ozymandias is opening up for a hug!

With no disrespect to Moore, I actually found the movie ending to be better than the comic.  Having the god-like Manhattan become the fall guy for Ozymandias and not some random alien creature that the businessman-turned-hero had writers, creators and scientists create made much more dramatic sense to the characters and story and it added more weight to the actions Oz takes against Manhattan.  Plus, eliminating the creation of the octopus creature definitely cut at least an hour out of the possible running length.  Sometimes changes to the source material work out really well and I honestly found this change—that exists in a property that realistically didn’t change much—to be a very effective one.

I know the site would send me a "Hey, there's nudity on your blog, take that shit
down" if I posted a screencap of Dr. Manhattan's dangling bits so, instead,
here's his big blue butt.

Frewer is so damn talented.  I love this man!
Another element that I really enjoyed about Watchmen is the fact that this cast feels like they were all perfect for their roles.  So many performers—like Jeffrey Dean Morgan Carla Gugino as the first Silk Spectre, and Jackie Earle Haley—felt tailor-made for their roles and seemed like they were lifted directly off the pages.  There’s also the surprise casting (meaning players that wouldn’t be the first to come to mind for me with their roles) that worked so effectively.  For example, Matt Frewer (who can do no wrong with his acting, in my book) is great in his small role as Moloch, Stephen McHattie brings his gravitas as Hollis Mason; the first Nite Owl, and Matthew Goode really embodies the type of man that Ozymandias is presented as in the book.  However, I think my favorite bit of casting is Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan.  Manhattan is a being of unbelievable power and to have him played by the soft spoken Crudup is just such a great melding of tones that it made the character even more commanding.  Not to mention that Crudup vocally captures Manhattan’s exhaustion with the human race and how he’s become bored by the “normal life” they lead.

Although having him makes me imagine Dr. Manhattan as the voice of

If there is any critiques I have with Watchmen, it is that it’s loaded with Snyder-isms.  Sometimes his tropes are fine to deal with and work very well for this property but sometimes they are a bit overused.  For example, his love of slow-motion during fight scenes is excellent most of the time throughout this film but there is a moment or two where it feels like he did it too much.  Another element that I’m not the biggest fan of is Malin Akerman as Laurie Jupiter.  Mind you, I don’t think she’s terrible in her role but if someone held a gun to my head and said I had to pick the weakest link on the acting chain, I would first wonder why they would resort to such measures and why they so desperately want me to single out an actor but Akerman is essentially the weakest of the cast and is basically just serviceable as Silk Spectre.

With that being said, Akerman isn't that bad.  I have to emphasize that.
Be damned, Strange Man with the Gun to my Head.

If you don't want to deal with Butler as a cartoon
pirate who loses his mind, you can still just watch
the theatrical cut.  Both are great, in my opinion.
Watchmen is, without a doubt, my favorite film Zack Snyder has done and definitely one of my all-time favorite comic book adaptations that has ever been made.  What’s even better is that after not having seen it for at least 6 years, the film still holds up.  Sometimes movies are just a product of their time and don’t age well after they are initially released (or they are ahead of their time and get better with age) but Watchmen, even this cut which edits in the Tales of the Black Freighter cartoon featuring the voice of Gerald Butler, holds up and is still a fantastic feature film with themes and ideas that are just as relevant today as they were when it first was released…both in comic and movie form.

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