The Red Carpet screens: Watchmen

As most of you should know, my latest group, The Red Carpet, had its first screening last week Friday (06 March 2009). The movie in question: Watchmen.

For The Red Carpet’s first screening, I decided to go big. How big? IMAX big! If you have not already watched a ‘Hollywood’ blockbuster in an IMAX theatre, then please do yourself a favour, and do so. The sound and picture clarity, not to mention size of the screen, are spectacular in IMAX theatres. The experience is usually breathtaking. Presuming of course you are sitting toward the back of the cinema and not in the second row from the gigantic screen. Which, as Murphy’s Law would have it, is exactly where we were seated.

Courtesy of the ongoing Johannesburg road works and the incapable drivers that are South Africans, we arrived 30 minutes too late for the six o’clock (pm) screening. This was after over three and a half hours, and 150 kilometres, of traffic induced congestion. Note to self: never make plans before seven o’clock (pm) on a Friday if the venue is more than 10 kilometres away. Needless to say, our handsomely reserved tickets had been forfeited. As a result we had no other choice than to accept what was available for the nine o’clock (pm) screening of the movie. Best available tickets for a group of seven? Second row from the front.

Have you ever been seated in the very first few rows of a normal cinema? Unless you are inherently blind, it is, in my honest opinion, a less than pleasurable experience. Now imagine that scenario, but for a screen that is over eight stories high. Seriously… we all came away from the experience with, and I kid you not, sore necks, blood shot eyes and pounding headaches. I would equate watching an IMAX film like this to having a mild brain aneurysm or stroke. Despite the less than adequate seating arrangements, the movie itself was very good.

One of the best aspects of the movie would have had to have been the visuals and special effects. I have commented, time and time again since watching this film, that if someone had to take stills of particular scenes in the movie, that you could use those stills as panels within a graphic novel. Thus, in a pure literal sense, the movie perfectly captures the graphic novel from which it is based. Although I have never read the infamous Watchmen graphic novel, I can clearly and vividly imagine what the novel must be like. Furthermore, never have I been more impressed with a pure digitally created and computer generated character, than I have been with Dr. Manhattan. The only tell tale sign that Dr. Manhattan is in fact a digital illusion is apparent when the character speaks. Although his eyes, skin and genitals have all been recreated flawlessly, it is Dr. Manhattan’s mouth, and its flawed motion, which betray this characters true origin.

One of the strongest aspect of this movie would have to pertain to its story. Unlike conventional ‘super hero’ related movies, the characters within Watchmen are multilayered and somewhat believable. Furthermore, the heroes of the story are flawed, and as a result, all is not what it appears to be. My cousin Freddy summed it up perfectly with the following excerpt from his blog: “Watchmen at its core is a look into superhero ethics and morality. It is refreshing to see superheroes from this perspective as this theme is hardly played on in most comic books. You get a taste of it sometimes but never to the extent of realising how a superhero could view right from wrong and how best to serve mankind. Another point that was refreshing was the concept that the superheroes in watchmen aren’t all ’super powered’, they are mostly humans with the agenda to do good. This has been a staple of the ‘dc-universe’ and I suppose the most appealing part of the human ’superhero’ is that it is accessible to anyone. I must say that the ‘origins’ of the characters played an important part in seeing the humanity of the superhero in question”. I do not wish to elaborate further, for fear of spoiling the plot. Simply put, the movie has a rich politically driven and drama oriented feel that is complimented by a love triangle (with obligatory sex scene) and copious amounts of action related blood and gore.

The Red Carpet rates Watchmen: 08/10

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