The Watchmen is directed by Zack Snyder who directed the movie 300. He is known for more stylish visuals than substance per se but in this movie he knocked it out of the park.
The year is 1985 but an alternative version and we have won the war in Vietnam and Dick Nixon has won a 4th term in office. Dr Manhattan is a scientist played by (Bill Crudrup) who is an indomitable man. Due to an accident he is able to manipulate time and space. He is apart of "The Watchmen" and they are a team of superheroes that had fought crime in the 1970's. Later in that decade the Keane Act made outlaws of the crime fighters and they all relatively retired. One night the crime fighter known as the Comedian is murdered and Rorsach another costumed vigilante decides to find out who is behind the murder.
I have never read the comic book series much less even heard of them before this movie came out. The Watchmen comic book gripped readers for 12 issues for 2 years 1986-1987. Some people claim that Alan Moore's comic series could be the best series ever written. Well this movie deconstructs the super hero movie and does it extremely well. There are frequent bursts of violence which are far more graphic than anything you have seen in the Spidey films. This movie also has a scene in which 2 super heroes have sex and it gets far more into the personal lives of a super hero than any movie ever has.
Snyder also makes us think about the music in this film. All of the songs in this film are popular and the visuals pay homage to a few other films as well. These could be some of the reasons why people question if Snyder was the right director for this film. From what I have read he stayed really close to the source material and to condense it into a 2hr and 40 minute film is problematic. I believe that Snyder was the perfect choice for this film because you don't need to be a follower of the comic to enjoy the energy and the story that is told. The movie is a multifaceted tale of battered morality with a cold war concern.
The casting for this film was great. Rorsach played by Jackie Earl Haley has the most screen time and he and Dr Manhattan are the most intriguing characters in the film. This is a cast that may not feature Hollywood A listers but they do not bring any movie star baggage. The Comedian played by Jeffery Dean Morgan is a huge surprise. He displays kindness, sadness as well as a repugnant man. Malin Ackerman and Matthew Goode are probably the weakest link in this film. Ackerman who plays the Silk Spectre is a little peevish at first but she gets better as the film goes along. Goodes performance as Ozymandias (The Worlds Smartest Man) is the one person I really felt was lacking in his performance. At one point Tom Cruise was supposed to play this part and I would have to say even he may have been a better choice for this role.
The Watchmen is one of the most visually engaging films of all time. Visually the work is beyond reproach. Rorsach delivers a line which is truly memorable. "No compromise even in the face of Armageddon". Giving this movie a 4 stars would have gotten the 5 but again they could have trimmed 20 minutes and it would not have hurt too much. If you liked Sin City then give this movie a spin if not you may want to stay on the sidelines with this one.