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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Watchmen (2009) - Richard Nixon Rules!

Sexy Heroes in "Watchmen"

Watchmen 20009 DVD cover front and back

I wasn't expecting much when I saw Watchmen (2009). I am about as far from a graphic-novel or comic book devotee as you can get, though my friends like them. I liked "300," but found the "Spiderman" films surprisingly dull and formulaic (yes I did!). "Sin City" was fabulous, and "Watchmen" director Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" good but just a tad lightweight. So, for me, it's been hit or miss with this genre.

Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen 2009
Dr. Manhattan

This one is a hit. I really liked "Watchmen." It had me right from the amazing opening credits, which set up an alternate (and more violent) universe in which a 1950's research scientist, played by Billy Crudup, was accidentally turned into "Dr. Manhattan," a blue being with virtually unlimited powers over time and space. He associates with the Watchmen, an underground organization of vigilantes who are all, well, special. However, there's one other super being around to mess things up for everyone, including the Watchmen: one Richard Milhous Nixon (Robert Wisden, who deserved higher billing), who in this dimension managed to avoid Watergate and used Dr. Manhattan to win the Vietnam war and get elected President five (!) times.

Robert Wisden as Richard Nixon in Watchmen
Hail to the Chief

The story is confusing at first. I haven't read the comic, so I had trouble understanding everything until all the threads came together towards the middle, by which time everything was clear. A second viewing was merited and proved to be a lot more fun than the first, getting all the allusions and associations that later proved important. I realize that fanboys and fangirls will not think there was nearly enough depth in this film to cover the entire Watchmen oevure, but believe me, there is more than enough to confuse someone who goes in cold.

Malin Ackerman in Watchmen 2009
The jail scene is a must-see scene

There is some controversy about the nudity of Dr. Manhattan, who basically walks around naked, but I didn't find it much of an issue. Essentially, he is another being, like an animal or something like that, so seeing him naked wasn't offensive. It certainly wasn't in any way sexual. I don't think anyone will find it particularly enticing, either (if you do, I'm afraid you're weird). The graphics are superb, and the plot about nuclear confrontation kept my interest.

Malin Ackerman sexy pose in Watchmen 2009
Somebody is looking very sexy, I'll let you figure out who....

The main story (there are extensive flashbacks, but interestingly, no flash forwards unless you count the very end) is set in 1985, during Nixon's fifth term, so there are numerous (mostly weak, but sometimes spot on) portrayals of 1970s and 1980s celebrities like Lee Iacocca (Walter Addison), Patrick Buchanan (James M. Connor), Henry Kissinger (Frank Novak) and the like.

Malin Akerman sexy pose in Watchmen 2009
Malin Akerman rules!

Standouts are Jackie Earle Haley as the sinister Rorschach, Jeffrey Dean Walker as the Rambo-like The Comedian, and Matthew Goode as Ozymandias, the smartest man on Earth (which he manages to prove at the end of the film). There is a twist ending that, if anyone reveals it to you before you see the film, you should string them up, then shoot them.

Malin Akerman sexy pose in Watchmen 2009
Whoever designed Malin Akerman's costume deserved the Nobel Prize for something

But for most viewers, the real draw is the women. The female characters definitely are attractive. Malin Akerman never looked so good! She occasionally wears this sexy latex outfit that really suits her. Unfortunately, her character is undeveloped otherwise (and ONLY otherwise) and at times annoyingly talky, but that part of the Malin Akerman character sure seems genuine. There were more sex scenes than I was expecting, but they could have been better. Snyder and the screenwriters manage to make all sorts of droll and telling observations about events of the 1960s through 1980s, perhaps the most telling being the one at the very end about Ronald Reagan that shows our reality would puzzle the inhabitants of the "Watchmen" universe as much as theirs puzzles us.

Watchmen 2009 holding newspaper with headline about Soviets calling Dr. Manhattan an Imperialist weapon
"Don't mess with the guy who wears sunglasses at night...."

Personally, I think the "Watchmen" world is pretty cool. Richard Nixon was a GREAT American PATRIOT and SHOULD have been elected five times - no, make that an even half dozen. And I really don't care whether anybody agrees with me on that. I don't care what or , who did the graphic novel, or screenwriters and intended. Perhaps they thought of it all as pure satire and wanted to skewer Nixon, who knows. The portrayal of Nixon here is rich, though it makes him out to be much more of a mad bomber than he actually was (Indira Ghandi was the real... Oh, never mind). Of course, his lines here are taken from actual comments that he made, including the caustic one about the "Harvard elite." I like this movie for any number of reasons, but making Nixon the heavy raises it right to a ten. Go ahead, bucko, hate me for that, but that characterization kept me happy throughout.

Malin Akerman in burning building catlike pose Watchmen 2009
"I've got my cat moves"

I recommend this film if you want an exciting couple of hours that will also get you thinking about the recent past and why it turned out the way it did. "Watchmen" also serves as a nice trip down memory lane for some of us, and the '70s music by the likes of KC and the Sunshine Band positively rocks.

Here are a couple of videos that should give you the flavor of the film. The first, the prison break scene, is one of the top sequences in the film. The second is a soundtrack selection, "I'm Your Boogie Man," by KC and the Sunshine Band. If you've seen the film, you know why I chose that one.


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