It’s worth the hype
Even those who’ve never cracked open a comic book know “Watchmen” is on the way. The hype machine’s been in overdrive for the last year, helped by fan enthusiasm and a headline-grabbing court case that threatened its release. Now it’s nearly impossible to avoid the early reviews and raves for the film adaptation of what’s often called “the greatest graphic novel ever written.” For the cool kids in the comic book world, the story of the fight for justice in a climate of global fear is beyond reproach. “Watchmen” is worth the price of admission if only to witness an effort to faithfully bring those pages to the big screen.
Peek at a familiar age that never existed
Ah, the ’80s. U.S.-Russian relations were at an all-time low, cold war panic was in full bloom and Richard Nixon ran for his fourth term in office. Welcome to the “Watchmen” universe where retro isn’t quite what it used to be. Perpetual President Nixon is only part off the shakeup for the punk rock decade, yet somehow all the unreality makes for an oddly authentic backdrop. In this timeline, Nixon remained in the public’s good graces by defeating the Vietcong (with a whole lot of help from certain superhero), and the constant threat of war with Russia helps him maintain his top spot. Granted, the setup’s a little wacky, but the fear that someone always had a finger on the button is spot on.
Absolute eye candy
Bringing a sci-fi heavy comic to the silver screen requires a balancing act of recreating the feel of explosive, color-washed panels and avoiding cartoonish gimmickry. It’s the difference between, say, “The Dark Knight” and “Batman and Robin.” Sure Bat-nipples and good taste also separate those films, but ignoring that, “The Dark Knight” would win on looks alone anyway. The same can be said for “Watchmen.” You could turn the sound down and still enjoy the seamless special effects, bright colors popping in the dark, and the polished look of a city in decay.
Can’t stand superheroes? No problem
For those who find preternaturally handsome do-gooders flying around in bright tights ridiculous, “Watchmen” offers a groan-free chance to soak up some superhero action. With just one exception, this band of retired heroes-for-hire is all-too human. There isn’t a hint of perfection to be found. Sure, they do the masked vigilante thing, but they’re past their prime and worse for the wear. And unlike most one-dimensional caped crusaders, the good guys aren’t all that good. There’s only one member of the gang that really packs a supernatural punch — the big, blue nude guy Dr. Manhattan — and even he’s past the point of buying into the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” idea.
You don’t want to be the one that didn’t watch
After a waiting over 20 years to see their favorite graphic novel make it to the big screen, “Watchmen” fans won’t keep their reviews, nitpicks, and favorite one-liners to themselves once they’ve seen it. Newbie fans are bound to join in, too. Who wants to stand around the water cooler or log into their Facebook account while references to Rorschach, Night Owl, Ozymandias and “I can’t believe they cut the giant one-eyed squid monster” are bandied about without knowing what the heck everyone is talking about?
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