For those obsessed with the critically acclaimed graphic novel (which would be almost anyone who has read it), or for audiences looking for a stylish action film, WATCHMEN is worth--well--watching. But those who thought THE DARK KNIGHT was too gloomy should stay far away from Zack Snyder’s film. As far as superhero movies go, this graphic adaptation of the comic book series from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons makes even Christopher Nolan’s Batman films look like Saturday morning fare. Director Snyder and the screenwriters certainly deserve credit for crafting an adaptation of a work that has been deemed unfilmable since its 1986 release. Mammoth and mazelike, WATCHMEN follows a group of retired costumed heroes living in an alternate 1985 where Nixon is still president and fear of nuclear doomsday permeates the air. When a hero named the Comedian (an excellent Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is murdered, his former colleague--the unhinged, masked Rorschach (a perfectly creepy Jackie Earle Hayley)--begins investigating who is behind the death. The other masked crimefighters--Silk Spectre 2 (Malin Ackerman), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), Nite Owl 2 (Patrick Wilson), and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), a godlike being who is the only one with actual superpowers--soon learn that there may be a plot to rid the world of their kind. Snyder’s previous work in action (300) and horror (DAWN OF THE DEAD) proves to be preparation for this visually stunning film. The fight sequences are fantastically shot by director of photography Larry Fong, and the action can alternately make viewers hold their breaths at its composition or gasp at the shocking violence. Most will agree that WATCHMEN is not a comic book movie for kids: there’s sex and violence aplenty, but it truly makes itself a film for adults with its smart, complex storytelling.
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