Graphic novel adapted to perfection

Chandy Clemens

The late Stanley Kubrick said, “If it can be written or thought, it can be filmed.” Zack Snyder filmed the seemingly unfilmable, for those familiar with the source material. Every “300” enthusiast knows Snyder is quite capable of the awe-inspiring, and “Watchmen” is no exception. Snyder breathes life into Moore’s haunting conception of 1985, translating its pages to the screen with nuanced exactness. “Watchmen” is a cinematic experience, unlike anything you’ve seen before.

“Watchmen” takes place in an alternate vision of 1985 where the presidential joke, Richard Nixon, has carried on for 5 terms. In his presidency, Nixon outlawed superheroes. The ban leaves a conglomerate of super-human masked vigilantes to a life of bland existence: the Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) , Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), Silk Spectre II (Laurie Jupiter), Rorschach (Jackie Earlie Harley), Ozymandias (Matthew Good), who uses his caped crusader facade to gain billions, and the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

Within the first 15 minutes, the Comedian is thrown through his Plexiglas apartment window by an unknown assailant. Rorschach, who has continued to don his costume of a shape-shifting, ink-blot mask and trench coat, delves into the investigation of the man behind his ex-colleague’s murder. Simultaneously, the world is in a descent to hell. The Cold War has intensified and Russia’s threat of nuclear warfare has become a reality; the doomsday clock continues ticking down to a nuclear apocalypse.

Rorschach calls together the former superheroes to help solve the case, fearing it digs deeper than any regular-Joe slaying. Staying faithful to Alan Moore’s graphic novel, the use of flashbacks and a scattered narrative piece together the puzzle of the Comedian’s death as a link to the impending destruction by the USSR.

The superheroes of “Watchmen” may be cloaked in elaborate costumes, but it does not necessarily mean they are “superheroes.” The lot are depicted in a more humanistic and endearing sense, each with his own set of acquired skills, but no different than an ordinary citizen becoming the product of his environment.

Dr. Manhattan happens to be the only real definition of a superhero. Through a far-fetched freak accident, he morphed into a lustrous blue super-being, able to bend matter to his own will, teleport, and build a celestial palace on Mars (a dazzling, visual feast for the eyes.) Of the Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan has collapsed into his own metaphysical being, blurring his superiority to humankind with an already thin line of reality. He no longer holds a connection to the world that accepted his abnormal state, but judges its incapability of being stable.

Must the Watchmen save a humanity bent on destroying each other? In a disturbing, but resonating scene, a young girl casually slips a daisy in the barrel of a police officer’s rifle directly pointed at a flock of good-natured hippies. The officers open fire and paint the grass with the crowd’s blood. Our world’s negligence to peace is unflinchingly spot on to Alan Moore’s vision and Zack Snyder’s resonating adaptation to the screen. At this juncture of our troubled times we could use a few superheroes, but as seen in “Watchmen,” why should a world like ours deserve to be saved? Breaking down the transcending visuals and seemingly labyrinthine plot, “Watchmen” reflects times of dire desperation and the possibility of a future ravaged by injustice and violence.