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Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

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Who Watches the WATCHMEN? I did.

SPOILER ALERT. Many, many spoilers below. I discuss the surprise ending and several plot twists.

CHILDREN ALERT. Do not take any children to see this film. It is not a superhero movie. It is an antisuperhero movie. It is deliberately brutal, gross and bloody where comic books would use sanitized comic-booky violence. It is deliberately lewd where comic books would be sweet and romantic. It is ironic and unheroic and dark and nasty where comic books would be more realistic. Not for kids.

I saw this movie the opening weekend, and I wanted to write a review. My only difficulty is that, for once, I do not have a strong opinion. I usually have a strong opinion about everything, but not this. The attractive things about the movie did not attract me that strongly. The repulsive things did not repel me that much, since I am mostly desensitized to movie gore. My response to the film was lukewarm.

The oddest thing that happened when I saw this film is that I suddenly realized that I was no longer a fan of Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN. I had been a fan for years.

In this, the movie is unique. I do not think I have ever seen a film adaptation that persuaded me to admire the source material less. This particular emperor has no clothes, and his blue penis is showing (more on this later). I walked out of the theater trying to remember what it was I had once liked and enjoyed in this unrelentingly bleak, nihilistic, dark, morbid, cynical and overcomplicated world of Alan Moore’s imagination.

The movie, on a certain level, is well done, and many scenes are visually splendid. The fight scenes are well choreographed and have a stylish violence to them. Other scenes are disgustingly bloody or laughably lewd, however. The plot hangs together without any glaring plotholes, and as a detective story, it reveals the central murder mystery in a satisfactory fashion.

Let me summarize the film, and then talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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