In an alternate 1985 where the US won the Vietnam War and Nixon is still President, an aging costumed hero’s murder proves the tip of a dark conspiracy.
The source comics proffer a dense, self-reflexive deconstruction of the superhero genre mixed with a heady dose of Cold War paranoia and noir mystery. The film retains these themes and recreates much of the iconic imagery. It drops some sub-plots and tweaks the ending, but the intent remains true. An admirable adaptation.
I loved Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, our nominal protagonist. His fearless performance as a deeply flawed masked hero with uncompromising integrity proves riveting.
Ditto Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s turn as The Comedian, a hyper-violent brute of a man drowning in his own regrets but hiding behind a veil of cynicism.
It’s funny. Today’s darker superhero blockbusters wouldn’t exist without Watchmen’s source material, yet it took said blockbusters to convince the studios and audience for Watchmen existed. Thus the film adaptation lacks the same revolutionary impact. But it still packs a punch.