My first book & movie review in one post. I finished reading Watchmen on Thursday and saw the movie on Friday. Both were excellent for different reasons.
The book is actually a collection of a twelve-comic series released by DC Comics in 1986 and 1987. Alan Moore was the author, Dave Gibbons was the artist and John Higgins was the colorist.
The story is this: The U.S. has a superhero, Dr. Manhattan, by way of a lab accident. He allowed them to win the Vietnam War and has kept the Russians at bay since. However, the possibility of a nuclear holocaust looms larger with each passing day. Preventing this is what the ultimate arc of the comic is about. On less of a superhero and more of an action hero level, the characters of the comic are seeking the mask killer – an unknown person who, in the first scene, killed the Comedian. Eventually, the two stories come together, though I will spare you the spoilers.
The story is nuanced, insightful and intriguing. It takes a hard look at society as it existed in the 1980s and saw that there was a lot wrong with the way we were living our lives. In one poignant scene on the gang infested filthy streets of New York City:
Dan Dreiberg: What’s happened to the American dream?.
The Comedian: It came true. You’re lookin’ at it.
Watchmen reminds me of Alan Sorkin’s writing for the West Wing. One of the many reasons I like the West Wing is because of the supporting facts, stories, and links between those facts and stories brought into the fiction of the show from reality. Doing so adds a great deal of credibility to the performance. The same is done in Watchmen to an equally effective degree.
The movie is very true to the book, excepting a debatable minor change to the ending. It is long, though entertaining. I would recommend that anyone wanting to see the movie first read the book. The movie will better keep your interest that way and you’ll have a better appreciation for the depth of the comic and the faithful adaptation of the movie.
Go read! Go see!