Film Analysis

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Watchmen movie review

Story & Screenplay
Production Design
Sound & Music
VFX/Animation (if any)
Acting/Voice Acting
Commercial Flair

“Watchmen” is visually brilliant but flawed in certain ways. Nevertheless, this eye-poppingly faithful adaptation is a carefully crafted as a lavish cult movie. It spins a comic deemed unfilmable into a blockbuster epic for the specific admirers of the superhero genre and the fan base of the groundbreaking book from writer Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons. Grappling with the graphic novel’s multi-layered storyline, this dystopian film utilizes a deeply dark heart unmasking the world’s harsh realities.

“Watchmen” is no doubt a love letter to those who have been waiting for the film for the last two decades. The success of the acclaimed 1980’s graphic novel about moral relativity, the futility of life, the violent nature of man, and the deconstruction of the concepts of humanity and heroism have pushed this film into monumental anticipation. Director Zack Snyder brings the superhero-noir murder mystery to life through the aesthetic pleasure of reproducing the key scenes with storyboard-like fidelity. As a deconstructionist superhero flick, it generally works in making fans thrilled with its visual experimentation, radical mythology, psychologically rich idealism, and grand indulgence.

Overall, the mood and tone of the film is what most fans could hope for. As the cinematic version of one of the world’s most celebrated graphic novel, this sprawling motion picture stays faithful to the book. It trims and reshapes it to its prime essentials. It may not include every nuance in the graphic novel, but it gets to capture the basic requirements of the filmmaking medium. However, the overflowing technical energy leads to a power lost in terms of characterization and emotional engagement to the story. The technical brilliance upstages the other aspects of the film a bit too much.

The filmmakers lose sight of what could make a film effective more than just the faithful rendition and the audio-visual flair. The film lacks the emotional attachment for the audience to relate to the characters and the world they live in. While it is true that the fans who are clearly familiar with the characters and their alternate universe would find the film readily understood on screen, non-fans would find the non-superficial facets of the narrative a bit confusing. Indeed, this proves that a great source material, a respectful translation from graphic novel to film, a big budget, and an overflowing visual power are not enough to make a film live up to the greatest expectations for it.

Having such a complex narrative structure, it is quite understandable that this picture is weaved with less back stories and plotting compared to its book source. For cinematic purposes, significant changes are made in the script and what has actually worked out during the course of production. For some, especially to those who are not knowledgeable with the crucial details from the original material may find it a little difficult to get that same appeal the excited fans get. It could be a slightly different experience for anyone who does not know the book, especially since the interaction between the characters and their multi-layered sub-stories remain integral points to understanding the story. So, those who are not literally immersed in the 80’s era, the Cold War, and the book’s astonishing vision would find it a bit more difficult to get a full grasp of the story’s core.

Through impressive, computer-enhanced eye candy, the film’s pop-art fusion features its blood-stained smiley face well. Though it captures the look and feel of the novel, it still fails to totally engage its audience because its emotional center gets buried deep under its self-gratifying visual style. For all of the ferocious flashes of spectacular physicality, there are substantially-challenged parts that sometimes feel misapplied, overcranked, or too ramped up. Unable to measure up to the technical competence of the material, there is never enough time spent with moments of emotion and suspense to make the audience relate more with the characters’ undertakings.

“Watchmen” has moments of wonder. Not all of them work, but parts of them do. At some point, this cinematic piece feels artificially stylized — its soulless aspects hindering it from becoming great. It is bold and bloated, fascinating and flawed, stunning and scattered.

Amidst its flaws, the film is intense. It is backed up by the book’s fascinating and contemplative tale. Its philosophy and take on genre deconstruction keep up with its heavy, adult-themed plot. It has interesting social and political ideas in doing the ultimate sacrifice and making the world fall part, then putting things back together again with the Machiavellian ideology in mind. Indeed, it depicts itself as a self-styled parody of the world’s “true face” and the “big jokes” of the society.

Visually, this flick is a lavish and exciting screen translation reverential to Moore and Gibbons’ work. Filled with visceral action and powerful special effects, its dark world boasts of keen attention to physical details. The production design, art direction, and cinematography are gratifying. The rich and gorgeous palette and campy costumes are a sight to see. The original comics shines through Snyder’s approach to satisfy fans with a densely-packed motion picture experience. He puts a grimy and gritty, yet glossed pop culture feel to the picture. He tries to preserve other information by including a short “historical” opening title sequence, then he readily fills the screen with the visual treat he has become known for since he made the historical “300” in 2007. However, there is a disappointing part to it: he merely yields to his trademark shots in his Spartan opus without recreating his visionary style for an entirely new project — making them look like mere copies of his memorable “300” scenes. And so, the crucial scenes that merely feature copycat shots and elements never fully satisfy. But against considerable odds, the story’s dense and complex mythology remains.

Snyder’s direction clearly focuses on style and technique. The acting and thematic and emotional aspects of the storytelling suffer. The acting department is actually filled with talented performers. The billing for the “Watchmen” superheroes includes: Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Edward Blake/The Comedian; Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan/Jon Osterman; Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias; Malin Akerman as Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre II; Jackie Earle Haley as Walter Kovacs/Rorschach; Patrick Wilson as Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II; Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre; and Stephen McHattie as Hollis Mason/Nite Owl. However, this talented bunch ends up rendering some wooden performances due to the story’s hollow and disjointed characterizations.

This visually striking “Watchmen” deserves credit for what a dozen of other directors have struggled to do — and never did — for the last 20 years.

‘Watchmen’ Film Review: Deconstructing the film in reference to the graphic novel
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top 50 best movies of 2005, Batman Begins ranks number 1

This “Top 50 Best Movies of 2005 List” is a tough mix of cinematic offers that earned their ranks as the best of 2005. It’s not all about the big budget and bankable stars. These things actually count in the overall charm of a film, but they aren’t the only reasons why people love watching movies.

Top 50 Best Movies of 2005 List

Ranking is based on a number of factors including quality of storytelling, thematic and technical achievements, critics’ ratings, awards, popularity, and box office and DVD statistics.

1. Batman Begins

Christopher Nolan effectively explores the origins of Bruce Wayne’s emergence as Batman. This story successfully goes back to the roots of the character, portraying a confused and angry Wayne who rises to redeem himself and defend Gotham.

2. Brokeback Mountain

Ang Lee’s unmissable and unforgettable LGBT film Brokeback Mountain hits a bull’s eye. This landmark motion picture for Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal is such a defiantly erotic love story.

3. Crash

It’s the Academy Award Winner for Best Motion Picture in 2005. Paul Haggis keeps up with the high expectations for this cinematic masterpiece as he weaves no fewer than nine sets of characters into a suffocating tangle of ham-fisted ironies and acceptable coincidences.

4. Walk the Line

This James Mangold film turns out as one of the most nominated works during its time at the Oscars. Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix give their finest performances as June Carter and Johnny Cash here.

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Tim Burton breathes new life to Roald Dahl’s 1964 tale and transforms it into a new celluloid confectionery. His interpretation is a gothic and yet colorful fantasy filled with the signature eccentricity as an auteur.

6. Sin City

Based on three of Frank Miller’s graphic novels, Robert Rodriguez collaborates with Miller’s genius to come up with this stylized, sexually charged, and blood-soaked treat that is especially meant for the fans of the source material.

7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This fourth film in the franchise has enough sights and sounds to stir the audience’s enchanted imaginations. Mike Newell gives this realm of fantasy adventure a dark, more human look with due respect to what has already been established by its predecessors.

8. Corpse Bride

Tim Burton presents a morbid and romantic trip in between the cold dwelling of the living and the colorful underground world of the dead in this stop-motion animation classic. It is a darkly enchanting tale about the celebration of love told in a quirky, gothic, and ironic style.

9. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

The legendary six-film saga by George Lucas comes full circle with a Vader and Kenobi face off, as played by Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor. Despite the mix reactions, its iconic power lives on.

10. North Country

This Niki Caro drama starred by Charlize Theron is a powerful and compelling story about a 1989 American mining community where chauvinistic values are too common in the workplace.

11. Match Point

Woody Allen showcases another auteur work in this philosophical film about class and infidelity.

12. Cinderella Man

As an entertaining and uplifting piece, Russell Crowe reunites well with Ron Howard in this heartwarming and powerful underdog story.

13. Capote

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s unforgettable performance as Truman Capote leads him to a number of acting awards. This motion picture also tops the Oscar list of the best films of 2005.

14. Pride and Prejudice

Set in a post-18th century class-conscious England, Keira Knightly earns acting recognitions for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in this classic tale of love and misunderstanding.

15. Syriana

This political drama manages to turn one of the most controversial topics in the world into a challenging, thought-provoking human story about the world’s grandest schemes, powerful companies, and most dangerous people.

16. The Constant Gardener

Rachel Weisz gets an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress in this film by Fernando Meirelles, also the brilliant helmer of City of God.

17. King Kong

This film proves to be an enduring part of film history and legacy as Peter Jackson pays homage to the original 1933 King Kong and its actress Fay Wray.

18. Munich

Steven Spielberg wins the Academy Award for Best Director in this mournful masterpiece. It engages in its revenge plot about the aftermath of eleven Israeli athletes getting massacred in the 1972 Olympics.

19. Good Night, and Good Luck

George Clooney directs this small-budgeted picture about a historic battle between a legendary newsman and an intrigue-stricken senator. The film earns half a dozen Oscar nominations including the calls for Best Director and Best Motion Picture of the Year.

20. Ocean’s Thirteen

The inventive and spontaneous bunch of professional men pulling off an impossible heist for the third time still remains as a guilty pleasure to watch. Helmer Steven Soderbergh lives up to the expectations with his bunch of A-listers including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Al Pacino on board.

21. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

At first, it may seem like a typical adaptation riding on the popularity of the bestselling novel by Anne Brashares. It actually turns out to be more than just a teenybopper flick. It is a heartwarming episodic film that aptly fits its target market.

22. Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

This fantasy-adventure treat caught the Academy Awards’ attention for its technical artistry. It has also launched new Hollywood faces through the characters of this C. S. Lewis classic.

23. Mr. and Mrs. Smith

This romantic comedy disguised as an action movie is a fun material with truthful bits about relationships and marriage. Here, new real-life couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt prove their on-screen charisma with their action-packed ride.

24. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

This dark, eclectic, trippy, and know-it-all comedy-thriller is a bold and breathless showcase of entertaining action and spot-on performances topped by Robert Downey Jr.

25. In Her Shoes

Starring Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz, this chick flick has enough depth to keep up with its interestingly profound and complex story about family, friendly, and romantic relationships.

26. The Legend of Zorro

This visually purist, action-filled flick showcades a touch of technical grandeur, while exploring an intimate family portrait in the eyes of Zorro and Elena, as played by Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

27. Memoirs of a Geisha

With three Oscar wins under its belt, this epic spectacle starring Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, and Li Gong presents a romantic look of Japanese culture, particularly of geisha life, in a western illustration.

28. War of the Worlds

Steven Spielberg’s contemporary retelling of the 1898 classic novel by H. G. Wells features a sci-fi adventure thriller about a Martian invasion, as seen through the eyes of an American family led by Tom Cruise.

29. Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit

This Academy Award Winner for Best Animated Feature provides a magical fusion of deadpan comedy and gothic horror for its willing audience.

30. Hustle and Flow

This redemptive story about a Memphis hustler struggling to find his voice gets Oscar nods with a Best Actor nomination for Terrence Howard and the Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures – Original Song win for It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp.

31. Transamerica

In his stunning feature debut, writer-director Duncan Tucker mounts a touching drama about an average, conservative woman who turns out not a woman after all.

32. A History of Violence

As a revelatory work about the nature and consequences of physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual violence, this film gets Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published and Best Supporting Actor for William Hurt.

33. Mrs. Henderson Presents

Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins shine in this warm, witty period piece about a widowed society woman in the 1930’s. Dench earns an Oscar Nomination for this multi-genre piece.

34. The New World

This is Terrence Malick’s fourth film in 32 years. This Academy Award-nominated work keeps him in the position of being the least prolific but definitely one of the most interesting directors in the business today.

35. Assault on Precinct 13

A remake of John Carpenter’s 1976 crackerjack B-movie thriller, this dark and gritty picture is well worth a look.

36. The Squid and the Whale

With an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen under its belt, this cinematic piece depicts its deep-seated conflict with a piercingly honest, moving, and frequently hilarious drama with topnotch performances.

37. Junebug

Amy Adams garners an Academy Award for her supporting role in this wise and effectively bittersweet comedy about the Southern homecoming of a guy, played by Alessandro Nivola, to his parents’ place in North Carolina.

38. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This light and funny adaptation of Douglas Adams’ novel is an enjoyable, mind-boggling sci-fi romp poised to reaching a broad audience with its silly and spirited tour of space.

39. The Jacket

Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley puts life to this intense psychological thriller about a Gulf War veteran who finds himself trapped inside another terrifying scenario.

40. Kung Fu Hustle

Set in a chaotic pre-revolutionary China, actor-director Stephen Chow puts enough humor and action to this Asian hit.

41. The Great Raid

Mainly set in Cabanutan, Philippines, this movie based on the books The Great Raid on Cabanatuan and Ghost Soldiers promotes a touching rendition of the incredible story of one of America’s most successful POW rescue in history.

42. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

This film is a hybrid of horror and courtroom drama and it approaches its compelling subject matter with an effective form of metaphysical horror.

43. Valiant

Inspired by the true-to-life story of World War II carrier pigeons trained to carry vital information for the allied forces across the English Channel, this animated offering accommodates both kids and their adult companions for a fun movie time together.

44. Sky High

Like how Hogwarts is portrayed as a secret school for kids with magical powers, there is also the heroic world of Sky High, which works like an amalgam of The Incredibles and X-men via Harry Potter.

45. Wolf Creek

It is one of the most brutally realistic horror movies to dte — and it is based on true events about an Australian Outback vacation gone fatal.

46. Wedding Crashers

Regardless of its flaws, the Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn tandem in this escapist flick is still such a comedic riot.

47. The Pacifier

It has that same old story about the tough guy who needs to take care of a bunch of menacing kids, but the actually formula works in this family movie.

48. Blade Trinity

This third offer from the Blade franchise offers a music video-style smash in between chasing and wrestling scenes for the action fans to enjoy.

49. The Transporter 2

Transporter 2 succeeds in maintaining the action-flick formula: the good guy chases the bad guys and vice versa. Deadpan Jason Statham delivers well through his silent charisma as Frank Martin, while Alessandro Gassman works as a sexy villain.

50. Ong-bak

This is a movie that amazes and defies the Hollywood cheats of stunt doubles and CGI creations. It shows the real thing of what one Muay Thai expert can do without using the usual movie tricks.

Top 50 Best Movies of 2005
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