Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Jackie Earle Haley
Laurie: Jon, please, you have to stop this! Everyone will die!
Dr. Manhattan: And…the universe will not even notice. In my opinion, the existence of life…is a highly overrated phenomenon.
It’s complicated. This story exists in a sort of parallel time line. One where people have been dressing up as superheroes to fight crime since the 1940s. Also in existence is a superhuman being named Dr. Manhattan, who was the victim of a bizarre accident that turned him into a sort of pure energy being. He helps the United States win the Vietnam war in a week, which leads to overwhelming popularity for Richard Nixon. In fact, when this movie takes place, in 1985, Nixon is in his 5th term as president. The world, however, is on the brink of destruction via nuclear war, and it seems like nothing can stop it.
Having not read the graphic novel it’s based on, I – and probably a large portion of the people viewing this movie – was no doubt at a slight disadvantage when it comes to understanding just what I was watching. The alternate reality it exists in is a little confusing, and a little silly too. Did we really need all that stuff with Nixon? The makeup was not very convincing and distracted from the reality of the movie.
I’m kind of torn on this movie. I think I wanted to like it more than I really did. It certainly looks good, has some interesting ideas, and gives its villain a bit of a twist. But, the muddy story could have benefited from a few more scenes throughout that helped the audience follow the plot, rather than just giving the villain one of those standard explain-everything-with-helpful-flashbacks scenes. It seemed like there was more of an interest in style over character and plot, and it’s some of those stylistic shots that could have been trimmed in favor of some more good dialogue.
Most of the actors do a good job, and I especially liked Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. I thought he was the most interesting character in the movie, as the last remaining hero who refused to stop wearing his costume, even after a law was put in place banning masks. He’s always believed strongly in the importance of what they do (for reasons we find out eventually) and refused to walk away from it when everyone else did.
One other thing that did bug me though, was that these characters were supposed to be just normal people dressed up in costumes. Obviously they have some serious martial arts training, but even with that given, they seemed a bit too superhuman to me. Throwing a 250 pound man across a room and through a window is hardly indicative of average human strength. We also see the Silk Spectre II drop from a flying vehicle, crash through the burning roof of a building, and land easily on the next floor without breaking a sweat or getting a scratch. I was hoping to see these people dealing with injuries, torn suits, and transportation issues. Again, maybe this is how it was in the comic, but it hardly paints them as real people.
Lastly, I will mention how much I liked the opening title sequence. The opening credits are displayed throughout a montage of scenes giving us some much needed backstory on these superheroes, all while Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin” plays. It was a good way to deliver information, as well as introduce us to the general tone of the movie. I applaud them for that creativity.
Being a cutting-edge physicist is awesome because often you’ll get zapped by one of your own experiments and get turned into a superbeing capable of unspeakable feats. And this won’t affect your ability to score hot chicks.
10 – 2 for being confusing and a little slow moving + .4 for a lot of good songs throughout – 1 for lacking character development – .2 for the Nixon stuff = 7.2