What is the movie Watchmen really about?

Watchmen - The Guardians

Believe it or not, but Zack Snyders Watchmen - The Guardians turns 10 this year. For this anniversary, the Ultimate Cut, which has been available in the USA for a long time, will also be released in Germany. Reason enough for us to see whether the film has aged well and whether the Ultimate Cut is really worth it.

titleWatchmen - The Guardians
year2009
countryUnited States
DirectorZack Snyder
scriptDavid Hayter, Alex Tse, Alan Moore
genreAction, thriller, mystery
actorJackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Billy Crudup, Malin Akerman, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Goode, Stephen McHattie, Carla Gugino, Gerard Butler, Jared Harris
length215 minutes
FSKApproved from 18 years of age
rentalParamount Home Entertainment

What is the Watchmen - The Guardians?

The year is 1985. The Minutemen, a group of costumed police officers, have long since ceased to exist, and the Watchmen, their successors, have also been given compulsory leave by law. President Nixon, who has ruled well beyond his actual term of office, reacted to the uprisings of his people and banned all "masked people" from his streets. Only Rorschach, a member of the former Watchmen, is still active in the shadows, fighting for what he calls justice.

However, when the comedian, a veteran of both the Minutemen and the Watchmen, is found murdered, the paranoid Rorschach only concludes one thing: someone is hunting costumed heroes. He quickly goes looking for his old colleagues to warn them. Among them is the godlike Dr. Manhattan, with whose help Nixon won the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, Manhattan is working with the government on a solution to the ongoing Cold War that is about to escalate. Should there be a confrontation between Russians and Americans, the earth would be wiped out. During his research, however, Rorschach and the others discover a global conspiracy that reveals unexpected connections and goes beyond the scope of all fears.

Fantastic storytelling

The world in which Watchmen plays would be worth their own film without the highly philosophical story and the incredibly interesting characters. But it is precisely the way in which this world is brought closer to us that inspires. The film perfects what is called environmental storytelling: The circumstances of the setting are not necessarily tied to the viewer's nose by dialogues, but are explained in a subtle and uncommented manner in the background of the action. Various posters and signs or newspaper articles become an elementary part of this type of storytelling.

And these small details are also necessary to explain what we consider to be an almost bizarre parallel timeline like that of the Watchmen. A prime example of this is the opening, which, without exaggerating, is one of the best in film history. Accompanied by Bob Dylans The Times, They Are A-Changing the background story of the world is explained in slow motion, but in initially incoherent scraps that only make sense if you pay close attention in the course of the film.

Unfortunately it happens too Watchmen every now and then that some dialogues seem a bit flat. Especially when people talk about the world, it sometimes seems like trying to explain it to the viewer. These scenes are the absolute exception and are really rare. As a rule, the dialogues are written incredibly intelligently and manage to simultaneously reflect the characters of the characters and make the conversation seem organic and realistic.

Can the look keep up?

Zach Snyder's superhero epic still looks great after a decade full of evolving CGI effects. This is mainly due to the fact that the film doesn't use CGI as inflationarily as other representatives of the superhero genre. Sure, without it comes too Watchmen not out, but gigantic battles like in Avengers: Endgame does not exist here. The effects that really matter, mostly Rorschach's mask and Dr. Manhattan's appearance still seem more than believable. The costumes always stay close to the original and do not cause confusion for the audience. What Watchmen Another thing that sets it apart from most other films of this type is violence. Here people's arms are mutilated with circular saws and open fragments are distributed in the backyard during fighting scenes. Not for the faint of heart, but from a technical point of view, the effects look terrific just like ten years ago.

But none of this is worth much if the cast isn't doing their job well. Fortunately, Zach Snyder made the absolutely right choice with his cast. In interaction with the detailed world, the actors are so absorbed in their roles that you often find yourself forgetting that this is actually a film with people in costumes. This cannot be taken for granted, especially with such different characters: Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan manages to get a constantly indifferent and analyzing look, Jackie Earle Haley brings the paranoia and the broken psyche of Rorschach across perfectly. That applies to the entire cast and ensures that Watchmen becomes a consistently well-rounded film.

The ultimate cut

But let's get to the elephant in the room: What does the Final Cut of Watchmen and is it worth it? First of all, it has a lot to offer. The running time of the film has been stretched from about 163 minutes to 225 minutes and is thus a good deal longer than the theatrical version. A few nice details have been added to some of the scenes that we already know from this version. Rorschach in particular gets more dialogue, which explores his character a little more closely and makes it more tangible. And some flashback scenes also get more screen time.

But the biggest innovation is probably the implementation of the Tales of the black freighter, a comic in the original Watchmen-Comic, which can now also be seen in the film in an animated form. The comic fragmentarily tells the story of a sailor who tells of the terrifying ship Black Freighter was ambushed and is now making his way home as the only survivor of his crew. At first glance, the story has nothing to do with the plot of Watchmen, but according to comic book writer Alan Moore it serves as a kind of metaphor for what is happening inside the Watchmen-Universe. Without wanting to spoil too much, there are certainly parallels. The cast of the voice actors is particularly interesting here: Gerard Butler and Jared Harris take over the voices of two elementary characters in the original English version, so it is definitely a prominent cast.

Conclusion on the Final Cut

But does that make the movie better now? Yes and no. Some scenes could have been included in the script to explore the characters more closely. In addition, some of the dialogues in the theatrical version appear as if they were only part of a longer scene - here you can see why. However, there are also enough scenes, the absence of which from the main film is more than understandable, because they do not necessarily have a right to exist in an already long film. Which in turn the Tales of the black freighter concerns: This is a decision that everyone has to make for themselves. Watchmen is a film that remains very close to its original until the end. If you want to experience the comic again in cinematic form, the animated episodes can certainly have their appeal. However, in my opinion, they are not necessary to enhance the film in any way.

Conclusion to Watchmen - The Guardians

Watchmen - The Guardians is an absolutely exceptional work. Zack Snyder strictly adhered to those in the implementation of Alan Moore's classic comic and gave the book, which was now a bit old, a new coat of paint. You could blame a lack of creativity here, but you should also ask yourself what could be improved on this work. Only a few dialogues seem a bit artificial to explain the confused world to the viewer, and the duration of the Ultimate Cut stretch the film too long. However, this does not change the fact that anyone who can even remotely begin with the topic, Watchmen should have seen.

The Ultimate Cut for Watchmen will be released on December 4th, 2019 on DVD, Blu-ray and VoD!

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