MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -4

Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson. Action/Sci-Fi. Written by David Hayter and Alex Tse. Directed by Zack Snyder.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A complex, multi-layered mystery adventure, based on a series of graphic novels, the film is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the “Doomsday Clock” – which charts the USA’s tension with the Soviet Union – is set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed-up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion – a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers – Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future.

PREVIEW REVIEW: This hard-edged comic-book-come-to-life is not your dad’s superhero action adventure. These masked avengers spend more time bemoaning their fate than a climate warming true-believer. They beat up cops as often as super villains. And like our political leaders, they do nearly everything wrong while attempting to fix society’s problems. It’s a dark, brooding, extremely violent take on the action hero genre. But moviegoers seem to be taking all this excess in stride. The more depressing, the more violent the imagery, the better.

The Watchmen is 2 hours and 40 minutes, the makers unable to find a succinct ending. Along with the sensory pummeling (read the content section), and salacious situations (one graphic in detail), the film batters our spiritual senses with one profane expression after another, and by nearly each character. God’s name is followed by a curse six times and Jesus Christ is heard eight times, and not in a respectful way.

With nods to other films, including an homage paid to Dr. Strangelove, it can be argued that the feature has some allegorical symbolism meant to reflect our present worries and the disunity found nearly everywhere. But ultimately it blunts any anecdotal profundity with its excesses.

One of the leads, bewildered by fellow caped companions’ pessimistic discord, asks, “What’s happened to us?” I felt the same way about what we would tolerate looking at and listening to. I wondered if anyone else at that screening was going to write about the movie’s pervasive profaning of God’s name, or the use of Jesus’ name as if He existed for no other purpose than to have His name used as an expletive for relieving frustration. What’s happened to us?

DVD Alternative: The Rocketeer. Bill Campbell and Jennifer Connelly star in this action/adventure about a rocketpack attached to any hearty young daredevil’s back will cause him to fly. It’s 1938 and, of course, the Nazis want such a device. Enter the Rocketeer, who must defend the American way of life by preventing the Germans from gaining possession of the rocket. Lost of fun. PG (4 or 5 expletives and comic-book action).

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Warner Bros.

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: Around 30 obscenities, mostly the f-word.

Profanity: Six profane uses of God’s name and Christ’s name is uttered in contempt eight times.

Violence: Meant to be stylishly displayed, the mayhem is used much the way Quentin Tarantino did with his Kill Bill series, but the exuberantly used violence is ever present; martial arts overkill; a subplot revolving around the raping of a super heroine by a superhero; it would take too much space to give all the examples, but here are a few – a man has his hands sawed off, a little girl has been kidnapped, the monster has sawed her up and fed her to the dogs, we see the dogs tugging at a child’s foot; a man is stabbed in the neck, several women are beaten by one of the superheroes, a man gets boiling oil thrown on his face; a pregnant woman stabs the rogue hero, who then shoots her; who’s gone crazy; countless people are shot, beaten, blown up, shocked, and otherwise abused; at one point I nearly got sick. Blood: Blood is splattered ala Quentin Tarantino or Sam Peckinpah.

Sex: Four or five sexual situations, one becoming graphic.

Nudity: Lots of nudity, mostly by a blue, CGI character, used completely nude, his penis often shown.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some smoking and drinking; the bad superhero is seen drunk and abusive.

Other: None

Running Time: 160 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.