Geeks will find it worth watching. Virgins will dig the sex, violence and that super-sized blue penis
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup and Malin Akerman
Opens: Friday, March 6. in wide release.
2 hrs., 43 min. R
There are two kinds of people in the world: "Watchdawgs," (out-and-proud "Watchmen" comic geeks) and "Watchvirgins."
Unlike most polar opposites — male and female, Democrat and Republican, Israeli and Palestinian — the dawgs and virgins shall meet this weekend, when Zack Snyder’s ("300") adaptation of the "unfilmable" tale occupies every available multiplex screen as 2009′s first designated blockbuster.
Who will leave happy?
This review is intended for the virgins — and most will wish they had researched the graphic novel in advance.
The Watchmen are superheroes, but most of them have no superpowers, making them garden variety costumed vigilantes. They couldn’t use powers if they had them, because in the story’s alternate version of 1985, these outlaw-fighters, The Minutemen, have been outlawed. The Minutemen are involved in some of the historical incidents that create a montage behind the opening credits, a scene that briefly introduces us to sapphic heroine Silhouette (Apollonia Vanova), who kisses a woman in Times Square on V-J Day. Later, they are found murdered in their bed with "Lesbian whores" scrawled on the wall.
President Richard Nixon (Robert Wisden) is in his fifth term by 1985, having won the Vietnam War by using Dr. Manhattan/Jon Osterman (Billy Crudup) as his secret weapon.
Superpowered as the result of an accident in a research lab, Dr. Manhattan can teleport people and things at will or take them apart and put them back together with his mind. He can also blow himself up to about 10 times normal size. Oh, and he’s bright blue and usually naked, except when he occasionally puts his schlong in a thong.
Though his friends call him Jon, he’s unable to switch out of his Dr. Manhattan persona. He lives with a second generation superhero, Silk Spectre II/Laurie Jupiter (Malin Akerman), whose mother, Silk Spectre/Sally Jupiter (Carla Gugino) is an alcoholic who was part of an earlier vigilante group, the Minutemen.
Laurie’s only other friend, and obviously waiting in the wings in case she and Jon break up, is Nite Owl II/Dan Dreiberg (Patrick Wilson). His owl costume looks suspiciously like a bat, and he used to do his crimefighting in Archie, which functions as a flying Batmobile.
There are plenty of story gaps, which gradually emerge through flashbacks. The present events are narrated by Rorschach/Walter Kovacs (Jackie Earle Haley), who sounds like he’s imitating Travis Bickel from "Taxi Driver." With his face covered by a mask with constantly shifting patterns, he’s still serious about cleaning up New York — deadly serious after someone kills The Comedian/Edward Blake (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), another survivor of the Minutemen.
"Maybe someone’s pickin’ off costumed heroes," Rorschach theorizes. "An attack on one is an attack on all of us."
Rorschach is unable to arouse much enthusiasm from his cohorts, including Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt (Matthew Goode), the smartest and possibly richest man in the world.
All this unfolds in a world on the brink of nuclear war, with the Soviet Union preparing to invade Afghanistan. There’s a cancer scare, too. There’s a lot of paranoia in this movie, which shows that heroes are just like you and me, only more heroic. And sometimes they dress funny.
Except for the ending, the story is reportedly extremely faithful to the source novel. There was too much material to squeeze into a movie, even one running two and three-quarter hours.
"Watchmen" will make perfect sense to those who already know the whole story. The rest of us can enjoy the visual effects and the film’s highlights, which mostly involve sex and violence.
The obvious aim is to stimulate repeat business — not just from people who like the movie but from those who are afraid to appear uncool by admitting they don’t understand it.
They said "Watchmen" couldn’t be filmed. Maybe they were right. Now they’ll say the movie can’t be sequelized, but Laurie addresses that in the final line: "Nothing ends. Nothing ever ends."
‘MILK’ DVD DROPS TUESDAY
"Milk" — the "Brokeback," hopeful of 2008 — hits video stands on March 10, ($29.98, Universal).
The biopic got eight Oscar noms, and won for actor (Sean Penn) and screenplay (San Antonio native, Dustin Lance Black).
Some of the extras include: "Remembering Harvey," reflections from people close to Milk; "Hollywood Comes to San Francisco," cast and crew discuss the development of the script, making of the film and share stories from the set; and "Marching for Equality," memories of the 1970s march sequences and recreating the protests.
MILKING THE STORY
Hopefully, "The Mayor of Castro Street" will get his props during kiddie storytime.
New Mexico-based partners Kari Krakow and David Gardner collaborate to write and illustrate "The Harvey Milk Story," ($17.95, Two Lives), a 32-page children’s book for kids 8 and older — aimed to inspire courage and to be proud of themselves.
To order, visit HarveyMilkStory.com
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 6, 2009.