Seven Years Of The Watchmen

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“Rorschach’s journal – April 6, 2016. Seven years ago I starred in one of the greatest cinematic triumphs of all time. In it the streets were extended gutters, and the gutters were full of critics, and when the drains finally scabbed over, the fans looked up and shouted save us, and Zack Snyder whispered “Yes”.

Seven years ago today, the greatest piece of comic book fiction ever wrought was finally released on film by visual auteur Zack Snyder. His triumphant cinematic reworking of the supposedly unfilmable comic series from the eighties was hailed by the fans as a masterpiece of modern dystopian Superhero cinema, but received tepid reviews from critics (Mmmm, now this seems familiar).

(Warning: Spoilers ahoy)

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Who watches the Watchmen?  Ozymandias does…

The Watchmen limited comic series was released by DC Comics in 1986, it was a collaborative effort of three superstar British comic book creators, Writer Alan Moore, Artist Dave Gibbons and Artist/Colourist John Higgins. Moore originally posited to DC that he wanted to use their acquired Charlton Comics characters as the basis for the story, but DC’s managing editor of the time Dick Giordano, persuaded Moore to create new characters instead, as the usage of DC’s now integrated (into the DC universe) Charlton heroes would have rendered them almost unusable in future timelines because of the direction they would have taken as a result of Moore’s suggested storyline. 

Alan Moore is widely regarded as the greatest comic book author of all time, apart from Watchmen, Moore also introduced us to V for Vendetta, Batman: The Killing Joke and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but it is Watchmen that propelled Moore to the rank of numero uno in the highly competitive comic book market.

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Protagonist Rorschach narrates the story throughout with regular diary entries and monologues

Alan Moore’s writing usually takes a dark and dystopian route through pre-existing tropes, subverting and twisting characters to fit into his alternate timelines. Watchmen is a satirical look at superheroes, that reflects the era it was written, be it through the politics of the time (80’s Britain was a particularly political hot-bed) or emerging trends and people’s apprehension of the future.

Watchmen is set in an alternate 1985, and follows masked vigilante Rorschach as he and other retired members of the Superteam – Crimebusters, investigate the murder of one of their former colleagues – The Comedian. In Moore’s universe, costumed heroes first appeared in the 1940’s, and were a collection of former Police officers and disgruntled citizens who ‘masked up’ to take down an increasing number of criminals who had taken to wearing costumes to disguise themselves from recognition.

In the early eighties with the world on the brink of a nuclear holocaust, and with an outcry by the general populace against masked vigilantes, costumed heroes were outlawed, and most faded into retirement or (in the case of the Comedian and Dr Manhattan) went to work covertly for the Government. Rorschach though continued to fight crime unsanctioned, wanted by the Police he refused to abandon his principles and castigated his former team-mates for their cowardice in the face of the costumed vigilante ban.

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After the murder of The Comedian, Rorschach manages to convince former team-mates, Nite-Owl II and Silk Spectre II to come out of retirement and help investigate what he believes is a conspiracy to kill members of the Crimebusters. Moore’s take on Superheroes is not for the faint of heart, it is a mature and sometimes shocking take on a popular medium, set in a totalitarian, regressive society consumed with fear and anxiety.

Unto this premise comes visual mastermind director Zack Snyder, riding high on his successful conversion of Frank Miller’s “300” graphic novel, he set his sights on DC’s Watchmen, and in 2009 presented us with perfection in comic book to film form. His film mirrored its source material beautifully, condensing the story somewhat, but still supplying every nuance and important depth of plot that the original comic series conveyed. His choice of actors were astonishingly close to their fictional selves, especially the casting of Jackie Earle-Haley as titular protagonist Rorschach. This film has ultimately become the cornerstone of Zack Snyder’s career, only recently equalled (in our humble opinion) by his take on DC’s Trinity in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, which shares many similarities to Watchmen in both tone and visual style.

Watchmen 1940 - 1985

Seven years on and Watchmen is now more highly regarded amongst its former critics, still loved by the fans and is one of the first ‘R’ rated (18 rated here in the UK) Superhero movies, long before characters like Deadpool were ever conceived for the big screen. Snyder’s film is visually enthralling, deep and concise in its portrayal of the original classic series, as much a must watch now as it ever was, not only one of the greatest comic book movies of all time… but literally one of the greatest movies of all time! 

watchmen emoWho Watches The Watchmen?… You Should!

 

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About ArcaneHalloween

Fanatical about comics, gaming and horror movies....but then isn't everyone?

Posted on April 6, 2016, in Comics, Comics in film and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. “GIVE ME BACK MY FACE!!”
    So SO GOOD!
    Had to go watch it in Singapore cos it NEVER GOT RELEASED IN THAILAND! There’s dedication for u!
    Pleasantly blown away by its brilliance then, and each time it gets repeated on Film4.
    And tell u what: it changed forever how we listen to Nat King Cole! 😉
    This will ALWAYS b th highlight of Zack Snyder’s career – actually he has not made a movie since 2009 that cld come close.
    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed, it is a literal masterpiece! Gets better everytime it’s watched, visually and aurally astounding. There really are not enough superlatives to describe it, and those opening credits… fan’bloody’tastic! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, man! Those credits made me appreciate Dylan more!
        And th opening fight in th Comedian’s flat (…!) Gee whiz: the choreog is fanbloodytastic – hard to believe that fella’s name is Adrian! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mr Veidt getting his own back for the beating he originally took from the Comedian many years previous. You can always tell a great soundtrack when songs and artists you never previously had any interest in, you then start to appreciate because of their context to the onscreen visuals.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed!
        But th casting! Get that casting!! Perhaps th finest casting of any comic book movie? Several career-best performances on show here…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, the casting was perfect and most of them almost unknown at the time. Everything just came together perfectly for that film, and the actor who played Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) was born in the city I currently live in… very cool!

        Liked by 1 person

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