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that makes you want to dance in a field beneath the stars? thank God for the fest, otherwise I'm not quite sure what I'd do

Why you should watch the Watchmen

I am but a pale imitation of a comic book geek, so pale I'm damn near transparent. I have never read Watchmen (though I plan to now) and my small, sad comic collection is mostly limited to well-known names and, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit, is currently packed quite tidily in a cardboard box in my garage. It's not that I was never interested in comics, most of my early sketches were super heroes I created with my brothers on rainy days as well as my favorite X-Men and Avengers, but more that I never had the means (i.e., time, money) to develop a faithful devotion to this medium. So while there's a bit of geek under my skin, I'm basically pleading my case from the standpoint that I am about as clueless as the next guy when it comes to this story. I, in fact, thought the trailer looked ridiculous. Then I did a bit of research, a bit of googling and found that these were not your average comic book heroes and this was not your average comic book story. Still, it's very likely that I would not have gone to see this movie if Abner's sister hadn't wanted to go. Thank you, Atalia, for getting me into the theater.

So armed with some brief background info from Wikipedia and a few critiques (not altogether promising ones, either) from the internet, I went with the knowledge that there would be 2-1/2 hours of graphic violence, Matrix-style effects knock-offs and a supremely cheesy sex scene set to a song that I didn't know could ever be cheesy.

To address these often-repeated points in numerous movie reviews, this film was a lengthy 2-1/2 hours, a period of time that will put anyone's butt to sleep in a theater seat about halfway in, and while my butt may have been asleep, the rest of me was quite awake and intrigued. There was graphic violence, and I'll admit that it made me slightly nauseous to watch it (I can never quite shake the knowledge that brutal violence happens all too often in our world) but it had its place in this movie. The Matrix-like effects did not bother me and, in fact, I find it a bit funny that people are knocking a slow motion effect that was only too cool when The Matrix came out, but I suppose this can be chalked up to the countless parodies of said effects and people overdosing on those. And, as for the cheesy sex scene, I can't really imagine that it was supposed to be a serious scene. I found it a bit endearing because Dan was the nice-guy/bit-of-a-nerd character that couldn't quite get it up the first time but hits it outta the ball park the second time around. So laugh a little, people! Sex can be funny, too.

Aside from those things above, Dr. Manhattan's glowing blue nakedness (my God, people, it's a PENIS, get over it) and the stunning cinematography (especially, the creative way you're introduced to the Watchmen's world at the beginning), there's a lot more to this movie. It may take some people more than one viewing to take it all in but there is a really interesting plot here which I did not find too difficult to follow and the story raises some serious questions that easily translate over to the real world. Where does one draw the line when it comes to compromising your beliefs for the greater good? Is something truly for the greater good if it's based on a lie? Does truth equal conflict? Do you feel that there are some crimes so horrible that those who commit them deserve an equally horrible punishment? Could you/would you mete out such punishment and how would you feel about someone who could/would? Is there a level of intellectualism which eventually removes you from the reach of human emotion and is that good or bad? And, as the novel/movie asks-- Who watches the Watchmen? We have our own Watchmen but their masks tend to be uniforms or titles of public office. Like the characters in Watchmen, they're only human. Can you fault them for that? But knowing that absolute power corrupts absolutely and we, as individuals, have such little power on our own, why is it that we do not watch our Watchmen like we should?

Yeah, it's some deep stuff. I don't typically take movies this seriously but this one struck a chord for me, even as it fell flat for others. I cycled through a range of emotions watching it; I was amused, saddened, disgusted and disturbed. At the end I walked out feeling a little like I was on shaky ground and was not sure what I believed but I was glad that I was asking questions. That's what I think is great about this movie, that people are talking and there's more than just fluff here to talk about. I imagine that the story itself is better, but the movie medium at least gives it an opportunity for more exposure. Personally, I think it could be a great teaching tool-- for more mature audiences, of course (Boo to all the parents dumb enough to take their children, not really knowing what this was and then criticizing the film for their lax judgment). Oh, the discussions that could ensue should the right questions be asked... So, with that in mind, watch the Watchmen and let me know what you think.

the most awesome thing in the world...

...or one of them at least, has got to be putting your baby to bed after she tells you she's ready, getting a big hug and kiss, having her say "thank you for helping me, mama" and then telling you she loves you as you close the door... I know not every night can be that great, but I'll take the ones I get =)

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June 2009


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