Archive Review: The Watchmen (2009)

Based on the DC comic book series of the same name and Directed by Zack Snyder, this film is a much more violent and dark comic book universe then we are used to seeing.

Certificate: 18

Director: Zack Snyder

Screenwriter: David Hayter (screenplay), Alex Tse

Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino

Genre: Action, Drama

Runtime: 162 Minutes

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

“Watchmen” is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the “Doomsday Clock” — which charts the USA’s tension with the Soviet Union — is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the masked vigilante Rorschach, washed up but determined, sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion — a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers — Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future – from IMDB

Not being the biggest champion for Zack Snyder’s DCEU offerings, I was hesitant to watch this one after I learned of his involvement.  Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be pretty damn awesome.  It takes a darker and more violent, vigilante style look at superheroes.  These are not your average caped crusaders leaping around in colourful costumes and saving the world.  These are flawed characters; they have problems and biases and prejudices.  And therefore, end up a lot more three dimensional and interesting then a lot of comic book characters.

Sure, the plot wasn’t really my favourite, the cold war is never really a great favourite of mine.  But in this case, it helps to heighten the feeling of paranoia and distrustfulness that is going around.  And also allowed for a good amount of mockery of Richard Nixon, so bonus points there.  Do I think this film needed to be as long as it was?  No not by a long way, there was a lot that probably wasn’t needed, the editing could have been tighter.  But Snyder does like to tell a long and meandering story, so I was expecting this to be a long one.

The visuals in this film are also stunning, really playing on their graphic novel routes and almost being Noir-style at times, it is a really interesting films to watch.  It is still littered Snyder’s characteristic darkly lit shots that were criticised so heavily in films like Batman vs Superman, but not overused in quite the same way.  Here the atmosphere and state of world events are enough to set the dark tone, we don’t need dark shots to tell us this is a dark time.

The ending though seemed to wrap up far too nicely and quickly for my liking.  After sitting through the first two and a half hours of this film, I expected a more explosive finale.  Instead everything end up hunky-dory, without our ‘heroes’ really having to do anything.  Our villain turns out to be…not all that villainous, and Patrick Wilson lives happily Ever After, so really really not what I was expecting.  I would have taken a lot less of the stuff in the middle of the film, to have a more impactful and sustained finale.

A great, and different superhero film, and definitely NOT one for kids, I am glad I finally talked myself into watching this one.

Watchmen is available to stream for free on Netflix UK now.


  1. I haven’t seen this since it came out so it’s a little blurry by this point. I agree it is much better than anything Snyder did in the (mainstream) DC films but can’t help thinking maybe he would have done better with the later films if he had started his comic book movies with lighter material than this.

    Liked by 1 person

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