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"Watchmen" is set in an alternate 1985 America, where costumed superheroes are part of every-day life, and where the tension of nuclear war between the USA and the Soviet Union is growing any minute, symbolized by the "Doomsday Clock", set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion - a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers - Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity... but "who is watching the Watchmen?"
Even somebody who is familiar with Alan Moore´s and Dave Gibbons´ legendary graphic novel will find some of the movie sequences a bit surprising. Naturally, the script writers (David Hayter and Alex Tse) had to omit a lot of those sub- and sub-sub plots of the comic book, just to put the core story into shape. They did a remarkable job, although in my opinion some further cuts could have been made, somewhere half through the movie feels like dragging along a bit. It seems they rather wanted to put on some iconic images also on the big screen than moving the story forward, and face it, without the development in CG special effects a project like "Watchmen" would not be possible in first place. A remarkable job is also done by the cast as a whole, but two people have to be mentioned here: Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhatten - difficult to say how he still manages to "display" the human & emotional side of his character when so little of the "real" human actor is actually left to be seen... The other one is Jackie Earle Haley: Pretty much reduced to his voice in the major part of the film, he pulls off a "Rorschach" character that gives you the creeps ...
Apropos creeps, some of the graphic novel images transformed onto the big screen become really graphic indeed, sometimes difficult to bear... And after this onslaught of images, murderous plots, fights, betrayal and slaying scenes you´re left a bit clueless - so what´s exactly the point? "Who watches the Watchmen?" That´s what leaves you a bit disappointed in the end, no matter how well the whole thing is pulled off. Are we all way too used to the idea already, that governments, presidents and all-sort-of agencies are corrupt to the bone anyway, that you can trust nobody anywhere, that it´s the global companies who really rule the world, and the idea of profit-making - no matter how much human life will be lost? Well... anyway, if the Watchmen movie just has you ponder about this question afterwards, and you find the "real" world even more creepy that this alternative on screen, I guess it already fulfilled it´s intended purpose...