At the Movies with Kevin: Watchmen mesmerizes

“Watchmen,” a tremendous examination of the philosophical ideas that accompany the superhero genre, is often difficult to digest which is not a criticism, but an observation. The type of complexity exhibited in the film is not normally allowed in superhero movies, which usually choose to discard inspired intellectual concepts in favor of impotent and random action scenes. “Watchmen” examines the fundamental question of why our society feels the need to invent these otherworldly characters in order to protect us from the self-inflicting wounds that infect our society.

The film argues that heroes are obsolete if we simply unite together and figure out ways to prevent or solve our own problems. In fact, “Watchmen” believes that heroes set to protect us could have influenced some of our greatest triumphs, such as an alternative outcome to the Vietnam War and more human conclusion to World War II, to our most enduring and everlasting tragedies that continue to painfully affect our everyday thinking, including as the assassination of John F. Kennedy. These protectors may have also diverted the course of our country, including Richard Nixon being elected five times and a nuclear holocaust coming closer than even the authentic Cuban Missile Crisis.

After The Comedian/Edward Blake (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is murdered, Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) desperately attempts to uncover the truth behind his death and whether there is someone with an agenda to destroy all of the Watchmen in order to perform a task of extraordinary evil. He enlists the aid of Nite Owl/Dan Dreiberg (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre II/Sally Jupiter (Malin Akerman) for a crusade to fight this impending evil that is likely to target them all, but they first reject the invitation for fear of being cast as outlaws like they were previously. Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt (Matthew Goode) is working tirelessly on a project with Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), a scientist who achieved superhuman powers through an accident, before being warned by Dan of these dangerous circumstances.

These are complicated individuals with just as many faults, or more, as everyday people. Actually, The Comedian often commits despicable and seemingly unforgivable acts against innocent civilians. It is revealed slowly that even he has a conscience in which certain circumstances brought along by life-altering events can deeply move him.

Demons haunt all of these heroes, accompanying their every move, and the poignant death of one at the conclusion because of his or her inability to separate these haunting memories from random vigilante justice. This death is unbelievably significant when reflected upon and such impact is not normally associated with such an enthralling adventure.

There is a sex scene between two of the heroes that is a powerful exploration of their craving for a sense of normal humanity that they cannot fully achieve. These two individuals are having an existential, out-of-body experience in which they are temporarily feeling the ultimate climax and passion of the normal human by momentarily becoming one. They are temporarily achieving a sense of heaven, which continues to grow further away from them the longer they fail to terminate the pervasive evil that thrives in this wretched world.

All of the heroes lose faith in humanity during the course of the film, but the interesting dynamic is that all of them still desperately want to feel the ultimate sensation of being a normal, living person without the grave responsibilities for which they are saddled. All of them feel deserted and disappointed by humans in their most vulnerable times. The one afflicted with this the most is Dr. Manhattan, whose frustration has grown to ambivalence about the world that he inhabited in the form he now disdains. Although he consistently claims to not be the almighty, many of Dr. Manhattan’s feelings toward the human race seems to reflect similar views that have been expressed by God through his destruction of cities in biblical times.

There is profound meaning behind all of the costumes as well. The ink on Rorschach’s face constantly changes, signifying the sin that is always occurring at different locales around the world that he is forced to fight against. The Nite Owl is only revealed after the sun disappears because most injustices take place in the darkness, while Silk Spectre II wears an erotic wardrobe obviously meant to encourage sexual thoughts, which are the most frequent human inequities.

“Watchmen” probably does not have as many action sequences as some may desire, but goes into slow motion at times as a brief glimpse into what these individual’s super powers allow them to see in the midst of extreme chaos. Maybe it is also to briefly focus on their movements and reactions, which are congruent with everyday people because although they attempt to follow their convictions, these superheroes also fall prey to the every day sin that they are fighting against. “Watchmen” argues that those who were established to protect us could be more harmful and savage than any one of us would ever contemplate, which is simply another reflection provided by this fascinating and incredibly thought-provoking experience.

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