Watchmen(2009) Review

Devonte Burrell, Writer

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         One of the most underrated and underappreciated superhero movies is also semi unknown, but deeper than most movies in the superhero genre. The movie Watchmen is the first on screen adaptation of the famous graphic novel, Watchmen. The movie didn’t do as successful as the directors and die hard fans wished it would have, but in due time it would get its recognition, and gain a cult like following. The movie was released in American movie theaters on March 6th, 2009. The movie portrays a dark and gritty alternate timeline of American History. It shows us a somewhat realistic depiction of modern life if superheroes with no powers existed, and how that would affect our wars, laws, safety, and our way of life. Watchmen stands out like a sore thumb amongst it peers in the same superhero genre, because it is rated R. There is a handful of superhero movies who have been rated R in the past like Toxic Avenger, Blade, and DarkMan; But Watchmen is modern and gave Superhero movies a refreshing new look in the late 2000s.

                Watchmen is not your conventional superhero movie. It introduced me to philosophy at  a very young age. It makes you think, and challenges your intelligence, morality, and character. The movie has no clear “villain”, or “hero”. Every character is a grey character, they aren’t bad or good. For example a vigilante who wears a trench coat, and a moving Rorschach mask, is named Rorschach. He is considered to be too violent, and kills “the bad guys” whenever he feels it’s necessary. It’s a good thing that he gets the bad guys off the streets of New York, but depending on where yous and killing them could be moral or immoral. It’s up to you to decide whether Rorschach is a good guy or a bad guy. He fought crime even after they banned superheroes, and he later developed a personality disorder due to him constantly wearing the mask. He went crazy to the point where he believed that his true identity is when he has the mask on, and that his alter ego ‘Walter Kovacs’ is a facade, and is not who he is. 

                Then the only character who has powers at all is Dr. Manhattan. Dr. Manhattan is a son of a watchmaker, and he later becomes a nuclear physicist, he accidentally traps himself into a particle machine, and it violently rips his skin off his body, and turns him into a God like person. In this movie’s world he is God, and america uses him to win a war. He was used to win  the Vietnam war, which is a battle that America lost in real life. But Dr. Manhattan who is a god, was guilted and peer pressured, by a nation who looked up to him as God, to use his immense powers and fight a war. Dr.Manhattan would later regret his decision, with a single flick of his wrist he massacred thousands and thousands of soldiers, all because President Nixon told him too. This leads to Dr. Manhattan straying further and further away from humanity, because he is too powerful to be around them and he is dangerous. This could lead the audience to have questions like, “Is fighting in war, and using weapons of mass destruction necessary?” 

                One of the numerous characters involved in Watchmen lore is Adrian Veidt. He sees that America and Russia are on the brink of nuclear war, and decides that the best way to unite the two battling nations is to give them a common enemy. He creates a huge nuclear bomb that explodes in every major city in almost every country. He kills billions and billions of people in his plan to unite the world, and blames it on Dr. Manhattan, who is also involved in the plan. The philosophy that “Do the ends justify the means”, and “Who watches the Watchers” play a big role in the movie. Adrian Veidt killed a little less than a billion people to save over 7 billion people. The other phrase who watches the watchers is a Latin phrase that asks, who governs the people who govern us, and who protects the people who protect us. 

                I would give this movie a 10 out of 10. The movie explores ethical grey areas, and asks you what you think is right or wrong. The movie has no villains or heroes, just like in real life. Everyone has a reason for why they did what they did, now it’s up to us the audience and the civilians to determine if what they did was wrong. Depending on where your morals land, the movie could have a different meaning, and I find that amazing. How a movie could have hundreds of different meanings depending on how you look at it. The director Zach Snyder and the author of the graphic novel Alan Moore, intertwine our history with the false history of the movie so effortlessly, and cleanly that it could be mistaken for actual history. All in all the movie exposes the reader to different philosophical ideas while also giving entertaining action and love scenes, all while making you think and keeping you entertained. So go Watch the Watchmen.