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No One Can Tell it like Rorschach!

Movie title: Watchmen (2009)
Grade: A+ (4 stars) (Recommended!)
Rated: R
Summation: When an ex-superhero is murdered, a vigilante named Rorschach begins an investigation into the murder, which begins to lead to a terrifying chain of events.
Spoilers ahead: No

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Imagine a superhero movie that you don't have to think like a kid to appreciate or else watch strictly for nostalgic purposes. Imagine a superhero film where everything from the wearing of costumes to the acquiring of super powers was explained and actually made sense to the mature mind. Don't imagine it. No need to. It's here. Watch it!

Watchmen, created by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, comes to the big screen as a movie adaptation of the classic comic book bearing the name. While just about all comics have their moments to shine, give me Watchmen over The Fantastic Four or Superman any day of the week and twice on Sundays! Unlike its contenders, Watchmen only breaks into the arena of the supernatural when doing so sweetens the pot; it doesn't dump all of the sugar into the glass, ruining the beverage. When it fudges the laws of reality, it does so with class, with reservation, and then comes back down to earth for the sake of the rest of us, thus, earning esteem as what could be called the Rolls Royce of comics.

Imagine a superhero soap opera, but with plenty of action, and the action is mixed with dark drama, and better yet, believability; that's Watchmen. When the supernatural does get brought in, it comes in "big" in the form of Dr. Manhattan. But let's put that aside for now. Most appeasingly, you get the retro fit of an alternate 1980s reality, doomsday politics as the cold war rears its ugly head, and a dreary setting in which genuine poetry can thrive...

"The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are filled with blood. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam around their waists. And all the whores and politicians will look up and shout, 'Save us!' And I will whisper, 'No.' Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down at the bloody hell. All those who live are liberals and intellectuals, smooth talkers, and all of the sudden, nobody can think of anything to say. Beneath me, this awful city, it screams like an abatwar full of retarded children, and the night wreaks of fornication and bad consciences."

Chicken soup for the jaded soul. That's from Rorschach's journal and it absolutely rocks, just like Rorschach himself!

Watchmen world superheroes are just real people, mostly peak-human-level combatants who want and fight for the greater good. These talented men and women take crime fighting to a vigilante level, and as when most things get done by other means than government, the results are far better. But that creates conflict and civil unrest.

The plot of The Watchmen is just what you would have in a world where heroes of renown walk the beat, as tensions rise between law enforcement agencies and vigilantes, between "ordinary citizens" and those a cut above them. It all makes sense.

Back to Dr. Manhattan...now he's the real superhero, ranking right up there with "The Q" from Star Trek The Next Generation, being nearly omnipotent. The Watchmen is the genius blending of drama and science fiction/action like you've never seen it done before.

My only disappointment is that this will be head-and-shoulders above many viewers. If you find yourself feeling like you're missing something, you probably are. Don't be baffled if you feel left behind. This is a movie adaptation of one blazing hell of a comic book, so you'll need to see it again, and if possible, read the book. But watch closely and you'll glean enough to sigh in satisfaction.

At very brief intervals, the film feels congested, but only because most of the savory stuff from the book got brought into the mix in the interest of faithfulness to the source (for that, we fans are ever thankful!)

This is the best comic book movie to date, beating out The Dark Knight and Iron Man, although both of these films, with their simpler plots and brevity, will win a possibly bigger share of fans from the class of casual comic readers.

But make no mistake about it, this is the real deal! It's what a thinker's comic book movie should be. It's what you have when action takes a back seat to realism, drama, and the alluring intimacy of a stellar story. Maybe it's not for you. Or, maybe it is, in which case, stand ready to be in awe.

(JH)

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Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Malin Akerman "Laurie Jupiter / Silk Spectre II," Billy Crudup "Dr. Manhattan / Jon Osterman," Matthew Goode "Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias," Jackie Earle Haley "Walter Kovacs / Rorschach," Jeffrey Dean Morgan "Edward Blake / The Comedian," Patrick Wilson "Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl II," Carla Gugino "Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre," Matt Frewer "Edgar Jacobi / Moloch the Mystic," Stephen McHattie "Hollis Mason / Nite Owl," Laura Mennell "Janey Slater," Rob LaBelle "Wally Weaver."
Genre: Action/Fantasy/SciFi/Thriller/Comic

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