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Zack Snyder’s epic comic book adaptation, Watchmen, is a lot more bearable than its 2 hour and 40-odd minute running time would suggest. The sprawling saga of an aging group of costumed superheroes in an alternative reality 1980s America is, however, definitely one for the boys, with its stomach-churningly-graphic depictions of violence and its gratuitous sex and nudity. For this reason I think it’s clear both why John Kelleher originally slapped this breath-takingly visceral piece of film-making with an 18 certificate, and why the film’s producers/distribution company appealed this decision: the demographic of this film was very clearly teenage boys. The film is now showing with a revised certificate of 16.
Alan Moore himself declared his graphic novel to be impossible to transfer to screen, and while he has distanced himself from this adaptation (to the point where the opening credits make no mention of him, even when citing the film’s source material); by all accounts Snyder has done a pretty commendable job. I never read the original comic, so I cannot comment on its translation to the big screen but I will say the film is thick with plot and character, with plenty of gristly moral ambiguity to chew over and enough scantily clad eye-candy to prevent the sourness of the nihilistic story-line overwhelming the general feeling of satisfaction this viewer left the cinema with. Not one of the characters are particularly likeable with even the ‘good guys’ failing to win the audience’s sympathies. Dan Dreiberg/ Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson) is too boring a character to engage the audience and Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre II is played by Swedish actress Malin Ackerman who uses the most irritating accent/voice seen onscreen since Anna Farris in The House Bunny. This film is about spectacle, however, so it really doesn’t matter whether we feel for our supposed heroes, and in this area it definitely lives up to expectations, with jaw dropping fight sequences and amazing special effects, not to mention vividly creating a bleak world in which to set its apocalyptic narrative.
Steer well clear of this if you are easily offended or squeamish but if you want an intense cinematic experience, this is certainly the movie for you.