‘Watchmen’ is barely worth watching

A computer-animated Billy Crudup, as Dr. Manhattan, replicates himself in a still from “Watchmen.” (What’s below the good doctor’s waistline is even more impressive…)

I love ensemble super-hero movies. The X-Men movies are my favorite, but I enjoyed the Fantasic Four and the Hellboy movies, too.

“Watchmen,” however, disappoints.

I can get over (maybe “get into” is more accurate) the alternate universe of “Watchmen,” in which the United States won the Vietnam War and in which Richard Nixon, because presidential term limits were abolished, is still president in 1985, and in which the Cold War is at its height, with nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union looming large.

But the mixture of super-heroes in “Watchmen” doesn’t make sense.

In “Watchmen” you have (in no certain order) the Joker and/or Scarecrow-like Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), who is psychopathically violent but who is on the side of the good guys; Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), who is a likeable-enough but rather weak Batman knock-off; the cigar-chomping, murderous Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who belongs behind bars instead of out on the streets; Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), whose powers (if he really has any) are not fully explained (and is he gay or what?); and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), whose powers are so great that he not only doesn’t belong in the same room with the other “Watchmen,” but he doesn’t even belong on the same planet with them — and, in fact, in “Watchmen” he spends a good deal of time on Mars (no kidding).

Then there is Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), whose powers probably are the least of everyone’s (she has great martial arts skills and wears a tight yellow and black super-hero suit that is somewhat reminiscent of Uma Thurman’s outfit in “Kill Bill,” but that’s about it), yet she is paired romantically with Dr. Manhattan, whose powers exceed those of even Superman; the good doctor can bilocate (well, poly-locate), make himself as large or small as he pleases, blow things (including people) up with his mind and otherwise manipulate matter with ease, reassamble himself after he has been disassembled, and teleport himself and others (yes, even to the planet Mars).

This mixing and matching of super-heroes with such disparities in their abilities doesn’t really work and makes “Watchmen” a rather convoluted mess.

“Watchmen” has its moments, to be sure, but overall, even Dr. Manhattan, with all of his super-powers, can’t keep the crazy quilt of a movie together.

And director Zack Snyder, who brought us the awful “300,” needs therapy. (Maybe Mel Gibson can be his roommate in the rehab that they both seem to need, since their directorial tastes seem to be so similar.) Gratuitous violence in “Watchmen” includes the unnecessary severing of a thug’s arms with a power saw and a scene in which dogs fight over the remains of a murdered little girl. Ewwwww! (The “real” story of the assassination of JFK, however, while probably unnecessarily graphic, is fairly inventive, however.)

And Snyder apparently felt the need to make the vast majority of us males feel woefully inadequate by endowing Dr. Manhattan with a large flaccid phallus.

The average human’s penis is only about three inches when flaccid, but the blue-hued bald and buff Dr. Manhattan, who struts around nude in most of “Watchmen,” sports what appears to be at least four to five — hell, maybe even six — inches. Flaccid. (And remember, he can make himself as large as he wants to! We’re talking rather unlimited actual penis size!)

And we don’t get just glimpses of Dr. Manhattan’s big blue thing; we really get to know it.

My guess is that Snyder, who seems to have almost as much of an obsession with the male body that I and other gay men do, was disappointed that he apparently couldn’t show us dick in “300,” and so he made up for it with Dr. Mahattan in “Watchmen.”  

(While Billy Crudup probably would love to claim that Dr. Manhattan’s big blue penis is modeled after his own manparts, Dr. Manhattan’s penis appears to be entirely computer generated, and I’m sure that plenty of homegrown computer-animated porn featuring Dr. Manhattan will crop up on the Internet if it hasn’t already. [I know that I'll be searching for it...]) 

I guess that we can expect more gory and homoerotic testosterone flicks from Snyder, since “300” and “Watchmen” have done so well at the box office.

It’s just too bad that “Watchmen” wasn’t put in the hands of a more capable director.

Snyder didn’t even make good use of the underrated talent of Billy Crudup, who in most of “Watchmen” is computer generated. Even though I never mind seeing a large weenis on the screen, even a blue, computer-animated one, I very much would like to have seen more of the actual Crudup in “Watchmen.”

My grade: B- 

2 Comments

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2 responses to “‘Watchmen’ is barely worth watching

  1. Commenter

    I realize this post is a few months old now, but I have to say. I DISAGREE WITH YOU! But, unlike most anonymous flame-war warriors, I will defend my opinion.

    First of all, if your idea of “Good” superhero movies contains the Fantastic Four, or Hell-boy movies, you’ve gone wrong. X-men and X-men 2 were great, but “The Last Stand” slaughtered all my childhood memories. That aside, anyone who has ever read the actual graphic novel of the story will notice that the movie is almost word for word.

    As for the content of the film itself, Watchmen was never meant to be an action-packed superhero movie, like the others. It was meant to be more of a mystery novel and symbolic story, about how everyone, even those who are a bit more gifted are only human.

    Dr. Manhattan is not as much of a character in the movie, but more of a symbol for humanity as a whole. If you notice, when the “accident” happens, his pose is Christ-like, as if he’s being crucified. Then he returns, floating in a room full of people FAR less powerful then himself. Even though he is all-powerful, and could essentially do whatever he pleases, he chooses to conform to what society wants him to be, losing sight of what he truly wants. The reason for the nudity, for those who weren’t sure, is because Christ, despite all statues of him, was crucified nude. In more sexual symbolism it is also meant to show that he is never truly physically attracted to humans, but attracted more to the mental mechanics of human nature.

    As far as the director, the only complaint I have is the almost “FOUR FULL MINUTE” sex scene. But, the rest of the movie was pretty much completely accurate to what the graphic novel made you feel the characters were like. If you’ve ever read the graphic novel, you would see that all the actors, and the director, have done an amazing job in recreating the book, in movie form. Very little is changed, almost nothing really, and they didn’t RUIN it, like Hollywood loves to do with A LOT of other comic-to-movie adaptations.

    Opinions are our own, so I am not saying you have to agree with me, but from the mind of this long-time comic book nerd, The Watchmen was an amazing movie.

    P.S. I am not completely defending the director though. I thought 300 was FAR to long, and unnecessarily gory. Also a VERY LONG sex scene. That must be his trademark.

  2. robertdcrook

    Hmmm. I’m not a comic book geek (no offense, hee hee hee…), and therefore when I watch a movie based upon a comic book or a comic book series, I don’t compare the movie to the comic book, but take the movie on its own. (Not too dissimilarly, when I watched the latest “Star Trek” film I took it on its own and didn’t concern myself much with comparing it to other “Trek” movies or TV series.)

    The “Fantasic Four” movies are just OK. Watchable but not great. (Admittedly, the guy who plays Johnny Storm [Chris Evans, I believe the actor's name is] is hot and charismatic and he alone makes the “Fantastic Four” movies worth watching…) I like the “Hellboy” movies a little more than the “Fantastic Four” movies but not as much as the “X-Men” movies.

    Yes, I agree that the third X-Men movie was at least a bit disappointing and the most inferior of the three; I even reviewed it: http://blogs.salon.com/0001517/2006/06/25.html#a829

    Yes, we can make all kinds of analyses of comic-book-based films (probably because they are so rife with archetypes), which is why I like them so much (aside from the fact that those with super-powers allow us to vicariously transcend our human limitations, at least for a little while). In my review of the third X-Men movie, for instance, I noted the comparisons between gay men and lesbians and mutants, and you compare Dr. Manhattan to Jesus. (Was Jesus as hung, you think?)

    “Watchmen” has its good moments, to be sure, but I stand by my original review that as a whole, it just doesn’t hold together very well, and I’m just not impressed that the director captured the graphic novel to a “T.” How much talent does it take to replicate someone else’s work?

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