Last Friday I was indoctrinated into the world of Watchmen. For years, I’ve avoided reading this iconic geek text from the 1980s that caused many interesting conversations in college. Though I read many silver age comics from my Uncle’s collection (left squirreled away in a box in a closet in my grandparents’ house), I was never really addicted to comics like so many of my college friends seemed to be.
That said, I have to say that Rorshach is now one of my favorite heroes. In a world so overrun by compromises, it’s amazing to see someone, even a fictional character, say “No compromises” and actually believe it.
The world of the Watchmen is very dark. It’s a world where superheroes came together in the 1940s and gave way to a new group in the 1960s in the time of Nixon and Vietnam. One of these superheroes, like Sylar from Heroes, was the son of a watchmaker and due to a lab accident gained control of matter and energy. Dr. Manhattan, as he came to be called (to evoke fear in the Cold War Russkies), turned the tide for America in Vietnam and made the Russians pause before starting World War III.
He was the only hero with actual powers, but he wasn’t the only hero. Each of the Minutemen and later Watchmen came at their avocation in a different way. The Comedian was not the first of these heroes to lose his way. But his death at the beginning of the film sets the stage for the mystery that Rorschach and his remaining friends must unravel.
Over the course of the film’s nearly three hour running time, I found myself engrossed in this world with these characters. A world poised on the brink of nuclear war and social meltdown. I only thought the movie dragged a couple of times in the last 45 minutes or so where Dr. Manhattan waxed philosophically for too long in a couple of places. but overall I thought the pacing of the movie was good.
There were a couple of things I didn’t like. One was near the very end. Not the way the main plot ended – that was satisfying and provided closure from the opening scene – but the scenes with Dan, Sally, and Laurie, and then at the newspaper – neither sat well with me for some reason. And the second was seeing Dr. Manhattan’s blue “pipe” in a number of scenes. Was that really necessary?
I really look forward to the extended version(s) (I think two are planned) that will be coming out on DVD to see if it provides a better ending than the theatrical release.
But overall I enjoyed the movie and would like to see it again. I give it a solid 3 out of 4. Rorschach was most definitely my favorite character though — where can I get one of those masks?
Until next time…