When was the last time you watched Watchmen? Released in 2009, it appeared on screen just a little too early for the greater majority of the movie going public to get caught in the wave of superhero films that were just around the corner. Had it perhaps waited a year or two, it may have received a little more love from audiences that were slowly learning that superhero films could actually be considered proper films.
However, there was not a lot of love for the film on it’s initial release. Too dense for uninitiated casual viewers but irritating for lovers of the comic book, which is what it was, the film fell into a half way house of goods and bads. However, with the wealth of knowledge we now have about the genre, Watchmen seems to be a better film today than it was 11 years ago. It’s notable that the film hasn’t really dated much due to the setting, and the effects still hold up ok, so it’s easy to rewatch without too much scorn.
With The Avengers and Justice League firmly placed in the mind of movie goers, a side ways look at the super hero team movie seems more relevant now than it was back then. The idea that superheroes are just normal people is now very firmly established, but how about a super hero that are normal people who are terribly flawed in all sorts of ways? It’s was a great spin in 1985 when Alan Moore wrote it, and it’s even more effective today because we all know who these characters could represent.
Moores Watchmen may have been based on little known Charlton heroes from the 60’s but now Nite Owl looks like Batman, The Comedian looks like The Punisher, Doctor Manhattan has the powers of a Superman, there are all kinds of parallels we can make, even though they may not have been the original intention of the writer.
The murder mystery that kickstarts the comic and the movie is a great way of examining these people and their world, and watching these awkward and anxious “heroes” making terrible decisions and committing terrible crimes themselves, is more refreshing now than it would have been back in 2009. By the time we get to the final act, and director Zack Snyder’s biggest change from the source material, this has been a dark and gritty superhero movie, that makes other so called dark and gritty super hero films look silly.
The final reveal is superfluous to the voyeuristic experience of watching the interactions between the heroes , and villains. The story may follow a kind of cliched narrative, but it’s the smaller moments that we remember. Doctor Manhattan on Mars, Rorschach in jail, flashbacks to Vietnam, and possibly the greatest opening credits scene ever filmed.Why not find the director’s cut, and put your feet up for the 3 hour plus spectacle that is Watchmen.