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March 11, 2009

’Watchmen’: Not Worth Watching

Watchmen I hadn't planned on seeing the current #1 film in the nation, Watchmen, anyway, but this review sealed my decision. (Warning: The reviewer can't escape referencing a lot of crude and objectionable details in order to demonstrate why the movie isn't worth plunking down $8.00 to see.)

I wonder if it will continue to rake in lots of money (and what this would say about the sorry state of culture in America) or if word-of-mouth will cause a sharp decline in ticket sales. I can only hope it tanks quickly.

(Image © Warner Bros.)

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Dan Gill

I won't see the film, but I think you're dreaming if you think that kind of word-of-mouth will hurt ticket sales. In the world where we live, it will increase ticket sales.


Plugged In Online is a great resource for learning a film's objectionable content, but their reviews are far from thoughtful.

Watchmen (the graphic novel, that is) did not earn its popularity for its graphic or objectional material. It is strong work of solid writing, particularly for its genre. If anyone's still curious, I would really recommend reading Steven D. Greydanus' review of the film. He doesn't recommend it either, and his reasons honor the novel's strengths while highlighting the film's weaknesses by upping the graphic content.



@ Dan Gill

Actually, Watchmen's opening weekend was deemed disappointing by many mainstream and comic book news sites (see below the P.S.). Mixed word-of-mouth is contributing to its lower-than-expected box office.

This makes sense for a few reasons:

*A lot of people thought Watchmen would be more like Iron Man or Spider-Man in tone. So, these people were shocked that Watchmen is darker than any comic book film in history. Despite its dark tone, even the Dark Knight still had a clear hero (Batman) and villain (Joker) to cheer and boo, respectively.

*Unwitting parents who brought their kids got blindsided by how bleak, gory, and pornographic Watchmen is. So, these parents are REALLY going to slam this film.

*Those who aren't very pro-family are upset by the lack of fight scenes and explosions in the movie. Well, superheroes tend to have those elements so the disappointment is understandable.

So, I think Watchmen will make back its budget at best. American moviegoers simply aren't in the mood for this kind of "superhero" film. (I put the quotes in since none of the Watchmen are heroic.)


Big Hollywood:






Entertainment Weekly:





Usually I have tremendous sympathy for parents struggling to raise their kids in today's cultural swamp, who I know are often too pressed for time to keep up with all the trends out there. That's one reason I try to spend a fair amount of time talking about kids' books and movies. But I just have to say this: If parents who took their little kids to "Watchmen" couldn't take just one minute to look at the movie poster and see that it was rated R, I'm not sure they deserve any sympathy. (But their kids do.)


Don't see it.

I made that mistake with one of my good friends, and it wasn't worth one penny. We were both very surprised and extremely disappointed. Definitely not the superhero movie most thought it would be. Looking back, if I wouldn't have been caught up in the hype, I may have noticed how dark even the previews were. Some of those images and graphic scenes are now stuck in my head...spare yourself the unnecessary scars and just don't go.

Gina, PluggedIn Online's review is right on.


I meant Diane :-P...


Just curious - does anyone know if the creaters of HEROES (the tv show) based the show on Watchmen (the graphic novel), at least loosely? The Pluggedin review, at least the basic description of the movie, sounded very much like a description of HEROES.

Mike D'Virgilio

I'll probably eventually rent the movie and watch it with no one in my family--the wife is a bit more sensitive to the uglier side of human nature then I am--but a person who I respect has a more positive take on the movie: http://stkarnick.com/blog2/2009/03/watchmen_movie_dark_brooding_c.html


I had a very difficult time reviewing this film. Watchmen (the book) is an incredibly complex, insightful, and interesting graphic novel -- widely regarded as the best in that medium. Watchmen (the film) attempts to capture that and, for the most part, does a good job, but falls short in that it does sadly up the ante in terms of gory violence and graphic sexual content.

Beyond that, viewers will find a complex character drama, murder mystery, and cultural commentary that deconstructs the now-ubiquitous superhero genre. While I totally understand that some of the content might be a deal-breaker for some people (I averted my eyes from the film more than once), I think there's a lot in Watchmen that is worth pondering and discussing.

My review (linked below) also links to several other reviews and perspectives from Christians (including Plugged In, Christianity Today, and others).


(And to commenter Beth, Watchmen was the inspiration for many imitators, include many other comics and graphic novels, plus shows like Heroes and movies like The Incredibles.)


Since we're discussing superhero films, this blog post is very timely:

"Will Hollywood Allow Us Heroes Again?"
by John Scott Lewinski


 Kenneth Conklin

Didn't think I'd be *defending* Watchmen, but...
I've been a fan of Watchmen for the last 15 years. I read it prior to my conversion, and I have one of the original editions of the graphic novel (marked up by repeated readings). I can't exactly defend Zack's inclusion of so much violence and sex (which are all in the book, of course, but aren't really gratuitous there), but the film is extremely faithful to source material.
The one major problem is that Zack changed the ending. The alien squid, while perhaps mocked by many, makes sense in the story. In the film, the ending now is a let-down, and doesn't make much sense.
But the film takes a hard look at a world where some people get their wish: superheroes are real! And what happens? Well, life is a bit harder. Things are a bit more violent.
I think Zack went a bit...OK, a lot farther...in the violence and sex that needed to be there. And any parent taking kids to see this, I'd ask where their brains are. An R-rated movie, knowing the source material?
But the film is a quality adaptation (aside from the end). I appreciated seeing it in this aspect.
Just wish it was easier to explain to folks that don't get superheroes. :)


I also read the novel a couple of years ago. It is superbly well written. It is, mostly (about 95%), contradictory to the Christian worldview.

It does, however, make one very important point that I believe to be well worth noting. That is, the main theme: "Who is watching the Watchmen?"

With our current gov't slowly taking control of more and more of our lives (and becoming increasingly more powerful), the question is raised: "Whatever happened to 'checks & balances' and gov't BY the people?"

I don't want to sound like I'm not supporting the president, but I do hope I kept my receipt.

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