Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Women who watched "The Watchmen"

There have been a lot of critiques about the new film, The Watchmen, and one that caught my eye was, "Will women watch it?" Well, I was there opening weekend with my fanboys and girls, and we all truly enjoyed it. Our group was comprised of small business owners, a literature professor (Jayne in the red), an economist, a chef, a graphic designer, myself the actress, and other movers and shakers. Everyone seemed to really dig the picture, and I would recommend it, though I would NOT recommend taking kids to it.

This is a very adult superhero film where violence reigns and the superheroes have been told, "thanks, but no thanks" since the government has decided it only needs one superhero, Dr. Manhattan, to take care of all the "big" issues like averting nuclear war. So what about the rest of the retired vigilantes? There's still a lot of distress on the streets and in homes, and one subversive hero named Rorschach (played with passionate intensity by the incredible Jackie Earle Haley) refuses to lay low.

When an ex-hero named The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is murdered, the Watchmen inadvertently come together to battle some unknown evil once again.

The thing that's fascinating about this film is the basic premise of good and evil in every person. The Comedian, it turns out, was really more of a hired gun, committing all sorts of atrocities for the government in the name of "good." Very chilling.

The rest of the heroes include Nite Owl played by Patrick Wilson (whom I loved in Angels in America and Little Children), and this character is an obvious nod to Batman; Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), a business mogul considered to be the fastest and smartest man alive, and Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), a martial artist-type hottie whose mother (lusciously played by Carla Gugino, who nearly steals the show in my opinion) was a superhero of the same name. And lastly, there's Dr. Manhattan, beautifully played by Billy Crudup (even when he's glowing blue), a full-fledged superman who can destroy matter (and that includes people) with a thought. Needless to say, this hero's mind is so far-reaching that he's losing his touch with humanity.

And I would say that's partially a danger for the film as well. It tries to cram so much in and reaches for such lofty heights... sometimes it feels like it's trying too hard.

But there are incredible spectacles to see! And I love the major questions that come into play such as, What is "good" and what should be done for the greater good and who truly knows what that is?

It made me want to check out Alan Moore's original graphic novel, especially in light of this blog I found that focused on the women of The Watchmen. That was my only complaint (other than the film being a little too long, clocking at 2 hours and 45 minutes): the ladies seemed to be relegated to eye candy. Ass-kicking eye-candy, but still.... I just didn't believe that Silk Spectre II had it in her to be the type of woman that truly inspired great men to do great things... unless it was only based on a sexual charge, because yeah, she exuded sexy innocence, but there wasn't a true sense of soul-searching depth, and that was frustrating, because I could tell from the writing that she was supposed to be that type of ultimate human inspiration. Ya know?

Anyway, because of that missing element, the love story was just sort of "eh" for me.

But the rest of the film worked in a mind-blowing, graphically dazzling, terrifyingly thought-provoking kind of way.

My favorite character was Rorschach (above far right), whose blank mask would shift with inkblots like the famed Rorchach Test. Jackie Earle Haley absolutely captivated me with his intensity. He exuded a bazillion emotions while masked and unmasked and brought this character to full-bodied life. There's a great interview about his process behind the character here.

So if you're in the mood for an especially epic and dark superhero film, give The Watchmen a go.

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