Thursday, May 7, 2009


    “Watchmen” is considered one of the most influential graphic novels of the 1980’s. Written in 1986 by Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, From Hell) and Dave Gibbons (Doctor Who, Green Lantern), “The Watchmen “appeared at a time when America was going through drastic economical and political change. Even after 20 years it continues to influence the world of comic books and graphic novels with its incredibly profound and intense storyline and complex characters. For fans “The Watchmen” remains one of the most important superhero graphic novels of the last 20 years right alongside “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns”, “The Sandman” and as writer/co-creator Alan Moore is considered one of comics greatest modern writers in the same respect as Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman. “The Watchmen” has even earned mainstream prestige with its spot in Time Magazine’s All Time 100 Novels.    With the rise in comic book movie adaptations in the last 10 years there has been some hits (“The Dark Knight”, “300”, “X-Men”, “Spider-man”) and some misses (“Catwoman”, “Elektra”, Punisher War Zone”) but there was one comic property that was considered un-filmable (i.e. “Lord of the Rings”) but on March 6, 2009, Warner Bros. released “Watchmen” Directed by Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead (2004), “300” (2007)) and starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Patrick Wilson.    To the uninitiated “The Watchmen” is essentially a murder mystery with superheroes, based in the alternate history of the 1980’s. In the world of “The Watchmen” it’s 1985, and the world stands on the brink of a nuclear war with Russia. America won the Vietnam War and President Nixon is still in office. As in the comic, the main character is Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), once a masked hero and partner to Note-Owl (Patrick Wilson), delves into the murder of an ex-vigilante named The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) As he seeks the truth behind the murder he probes deeper into the lives of both former heroes and partners including Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), and Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman). As far as superheroes go, no one in “Watchmen” actually has any super power except for Dr. Manhattan who has almost limitless god-like powers gained from an accident with a scientific experiment (and did I mention he’s bright blue and nude for 90 % of the movie). In 1985 costumed heroes have retired due to a governmental act and most go on living ordinary lives except for Dr. Manhattan who works for military research with the help of his girlfriend Laurie Jupiter formerly the Silk Spectre (II) and Ozymandias who is now a billionaire businessman and industrialist. The most mysterious and enigmatic character is the fan favorite Rorschach, who possesses a strange white mask which displays various interchangeable Rorschach inkblot patterns. Rorschach is an intense, violent and obsessive character who refuses to give up his costumed persona and lives like a vagrant.
    When Rorschach discovers the identity of The Comedian he begins his search believing that there is a conspiracy to murder former costumed heroes and anyone of his former associates and even villains could be next as he stumbles onto the truth of one of the most convoluted and world shattering murder plots ever which the end result could mean all out nuclear destruction.
    Still considered a new director, Zack Snyder has shown his talent in both horror and action/comic book based movies with the impressive 2005 remake of George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” and the adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel “300” in 2007. Zack Snyder has brought the world of “Watchmen” straight from the pages of Moore and Gibbon’s comic masterpiece and brought new life to the story as it most certainly will impress both new and old fans alike. Like any adaptation, there is always the element of revision and change to that of the source material, and like most comic book movies there are always some parts where the directors and writers alter certain aspects of the source material. Already having some experience and success in “300”, Snyder brought Frank Miller’s graphic novel almost literally word-for-word and scene-by-scene to life he has done incredible justice to the book. As with most adaptations of Frank Miller’s works it somewhat disappointing and maybe a little thought provoking of why Alan Moore has completely distanced himself from all of his books turned to movies  such as “From Hell”, “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “V for Vendetta”. Although he remains an extremely talented yet eccentric personality, because he has no involvement whatsoever with those stories he unfortunately gets zero credit on the movie as Dave Gibbons, “co-creator” is the only one who gets his name in the credits.
    As for the movie itself, it is an intense, deeply thought provoking if not somewhat a little saddened that such a comic masterpiece be made into a movie it both empowers and hurts the comic as it will not likely give the mainstream film goers a completely new experience but will please most fans of the original series. The film version takes much of the original scenes and dialogue right from the pages but the movie does take its liberties with the story as only Hollywood could. Even from the beginning of the movie you can already see every detail has been painstakingly crafted and both the actors and direction is superb. The choice of actors for the various parts are nothing if not perfect even with some of the younger actors chosen for older parts you can see as the past is constantly revisited in numerous flashbacks from the 1940’s to the 1980’s that the illusion of age is very well done with the makeup of the characters.    As for the music used in the film, which is something to be noticed as it draws heavily from nostalgic music especially from the 60’s, ‘70’s and ‘80’s where much of the story takes place. With selections like Bob Dylan’s “The Times, They are-a Changin’” in the opening title sequence, to “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole, and Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower”, “I’m Your Boogieman” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, and even the use of “Ride of the Valkyries” during the scenes of the Vietnam War, ala “Apocalypse Now”. As many of these seem obvious others are somewhat perplexing in their placement.
    If you are a fan, there is a strong chance that like me you will be impressed by this movie, however many of the more devoted “fanboys” will be sorely disappointed and unsatisfied with this adaptation, particularly with the alteration of the final scenes of the movie which I will not spoil. This movie is one of those rare films that will change the way people will think about comic book films. The only regret I have is that although I believe this to be an amazing movie, for most people and the mainstream movie audience this will be a perplexing and even confusing film that many will not fully understand or appreciate. For those people who will not get a single moment of “Watchmen” I say have a more open mind and forget everything you think you know about superhero movies and for the fans who expected so much more than a 2 ½ hour, $130,000,000 blockbuster could give.
    So my answer to the ancient “Who watches the Watchmen?” (Juvenal, Satires, VI, 347) the answer is “We Do!”

MOVIE REVIEW: "Star Trek" (2009)

  "Space...the final frontier, these are the voyages of the starship ENTERPRISE..." (at least, I think it is?) After four TV spin-offs and ten movies, Hollywood has decided to press the preverbial reset button on the "Star Trek" franchise and they got renowned producer/director J.J. Abrams (Mission Impossible 3) to do it. To paraphrase Spock: "It is not logical." For over 40 years Star Trek has become THE most popular science-fiction series, with hordes of fans both young and old. After a 7 year lull in the franchise Star Trek has apparently been "renewed" with an entirely new cast playing the original crew: Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, just to name a few...its intentions were noble, to restart the franchise for a whole new generation and also in the hopes of making old-school fans take notice. Unfortunatly, it's as though they took everything fans loved about Star Trek and threw it out the window! Forget everything you know about Star Trek and set your brain from stun to kill! The worst part of this movie is the entire story is supposedly an alternate universe, which supposedly gives the filmkaers free reign to do whatever the hell they want with it, thus leaving us with something that shows no resemblance of being STar Trek and more like som bad piece of Star Trek fan-fiction. After watching this movie, although incredibly well done with amazing special effects, there is hardly anything left that resembles Star Trek at all. For many who think Star Trek has become old and stale, you're gonna love this. But, for those true "Trekkers" who grew up loving Star Trek, you will erase your memory banks of ever having seen it. All in all, it's a great's just NOT "Star Trek"!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"

    I LOVE the "X-Men" movies! 2 was the best, but 3 was disapointing. And just when you think the trilogy was over, we get a Prequel! Obviously Wolverine is the most popular character and he has been my favorite ever since he got his own comic way back in 1988. I was so excited when I first saw the trailer for this and couldn't wait. Hugh Jackman returns for the 4th time as the scruffy, Canadian, metal clawed mutant. Like most Hollywood comic adaptations it never fails to make lots of changes to the original source material, that's why they're called adaptations!
 If you've ever read Wolverine or X-Men you know Wolvie has the most confusing and conveluded origin ever. And since the 2001 "Origin" series., they keep changing it! "X-Men Origins" is no different, although they do try to stick with Wolverine's origin, they have to incorporate the other stuff they messed up in the previous 3 movies, so we have LOTS of problems. With all the Weapon X, adamantium, mutant craziness, on top of all that they made Sabretooth Wolverine's brother! On top of that, there's WAY too many mutants in this one, it seems like every movie tries to outdo the other by adding more and more mutant/x-men characters for cameos and even go so far as to create some of their own or takle existing ones and screw them up! Fans were excited when it was revealed that Gambit and Deadpool make an appearance and even more so when they found out that Ryan Reynolds would be playing Deadpool. Another anti-climactic cameo is the Blob, you know when you've run out of mutants when you put in the Blob (although I've always had a soft (fat) spot for him, but really, somebody tell me what he has to do with Wolverine and/or Weapon X?
 For the most part it makes for a cool, exciting action movie but I think we've had enough. I've loved the Marvel movies, there've been hits (i.e. X-Men, Spider-man, Iron Man) and misses (LOTS of misses, i.e. Elektra, Hulk...) Maybe "X-Men 2" should've ended the franchise or maybe Hollywood is destined to keep milking it until it becomes non-profitable and fanboys like me stand up and say "Ok, that's it, I'm done." and walk out...