Imagine if you will that Zack Snyder was pregnant. And all through the pregnancy, the birth, and as the baby grows, Snyder thinks of what the baby can become. A doctor... A lawyer... President even. But as the baby becomes a boy, and the boy into a man, the expectations get lower because the baby turned out to be dumb and lazy. The hopes of doctor and lawyer slowly dwindle into the relief that the baby managed to graduate high school without going to jail or knocking up an underclassman or something. And while this analogy may sound like the rambling of a drunken hobo trying to speak the wisdom of the ages to whomever cares to listen, for whatever reason it makes sense to me in reference to The Watchmen... by the end of it, you're just happy they managed to get to the end.
The Watchmen is an ambition endeavor to be sure. Zack Snyder, the acclaimed director of 300, seemed to be the right man for the job having brought to life the famed Frank Miller tome just a few years ago. But selling America on a movie about the day to day pangs of superheroes and the world which they are swore to protect... especially when it is superheroes that they have never heard of... is quite a monumental. And selling them on it is one thing. It is a whole other to try and get them to like it. But Snyder tries, and well... It looks nice. But that's about it.
Coming in at just under three hours, The Watchmen has buckets of potential. It is stylish, beautiful to look at, well acted, and in almost every way engaging. If it had not been for the script being so convoluted, then it might have been good. But the script is rough, packing so much into the film in the effort to stay true to the books that it ends up paying for by not making any sense at all. The first hour is like riding a Wonkavator on crack, flashing forward and backwards and sidewards so much that the viewer is left lost and perplexed- overwhelmed by the twisted Nixonian universe the Watchmen exists in. And if you were lucky enough (or managed to stay awake for that matter) to make it through the first hour, then you have the second hour, which can best be described as Smurf porn. That's right... the blue shiny guy they show in the commercials shaking JFK's hand spends the second act of this mess dong a flopping. And other than a pretty entertaining fight scene somewhere in there, the blue wang is the highlight of the mid-point. And then there is the end. To put it bluntly, I am just glad they got around to it.
The movie basically goes like this: It's 1985 and the American people have outlawed masked vigilantes from roaming the streets, Nixon is running for a fifth term in office, and the world is on the brink of nuclear war. While investigating the death of a former superhero, Rorschach (a washed up superhero who dons his mask and patrols the streets at night) begins to uncover a massive plot for the world to fall into a nuclear apocalypse and there is no one who can stop this from happening. No one that is except for Rorschach and his group of rag tag supermen, including Nite Owl (an superhero suffering from ED and self confidence issues), Silk Spectre (a second gen self loathing hero stuck in a loveless marriage to a detached immortal), and Dr. Manhattan (the afore mentioned immortal whose superpowers have made him grow indifferent to the plight of humanity). But as Rorschach and his band of a crusty bitch and a couple of ragtags start to get closer to the end game, they uncover a sinister plot for global destruction and the end of the world as we know it.
The story, overall, is compelling and interesting. Limitless possibility. But that is where it all goes haywire. As they say, the Devil is in the details. The story gets stuck on itself constantly, seeming unable to get out of its own way long enough to stay on the right track. The interesting story and the CGI help, as well as having actors who actually turned in some good work, but ultimately the film falls short of meeting the lofty goals set for itself in wanting to tell the definitive superhero story.
In the end, The Watchmen is just eh; not quite bad enough to be a steaming pile of shit but at the same time not quite good enough to say it is great. At times the film is fun, but for the most part it end up muddled and slow paced. This is probably one of those films that when I catch it again later, be it on cable or when it comes out on DVD, and see those things I might have missed in the theater and change my mind on this flick. But as of now, I would have to say this is a two and a half out of five toilet paper rolls (if you were going to go see it, then do not let this deter you, but if you were not too sure about it, you might want to just go see Paul Blart again).