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USA 2009
produced by
Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Deborah Snyder, Herb Gains (executive), Thomas Tull (executive) for Warner Brothers, Paramount, DC Comics, Legendary
directed by Zack Snyder
starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Matt Frewer, Stephen McHattie, Laura Mennell, Rob LaBelle, Gary Houston, James M.Connor, Mary Ann Burger, John Shaw, Robert Wisden, Jerry Wasserman, Don Thompson, Frank Novak, Sean Allan, Garry Chalk, Ron Fassler, Stephanie Belding, Michael Kopsa, William S.Taylor
screenplay by David Hayter, Alex Tse, based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore (writer), Dave Gibbons (artist), published by DC Comics, music by Tyler Bates, special effects by Gentle Giant Studios, Lidar Services, Moving Picture Company (MPC), SPI, special makeup effects by Drac Studios, visual effects by CIS, Image Engine Design, Intelligent Creatures, Rainmaker, Rising Sun Pictures, speciality costumes and prosthetic suits by Quantum Creation FX

Watchmen, Richard Nixon

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The USA, 1985, and Richard Nixon (Robert Wisden) is still president, and the world is on the brink of nuclear war:

  • Meet the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who has become a masked superhero in the 1940's, has aided American victory in World War II, has later become a CIA operative who was instrumental in killing JFK, has yet later fought in Vietnam, and fought dirty, too, and has retired in 1977, when masked superheroes were outlawed - except for those who cooperated closely witht he gouvernment. Now, 8 years after his retirement, the Comedian is murdered ...
  • Meet Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), another masked superhero, one with a reactionary mindset, and one of those who has been outlawed. But that doesn't keep him from patroling the streets of New York anyhow, punishing those he considers guilty in a most violent manner, and torturing the information he wants out of his often innocent victims. Rorschach investigates the Comedian's death and soon comes to the conclusion that somebody is killing off masked superheroes, no matter whether they are active or not.
  • Meet Doctor Manhattan (Billy Crudup), the ultimate superhero, the only one with real and almost limitless superpowers, caused by some atomic explosion or other. And since then, he can look into the past and future, has power over all matter, is a walking atom bomb, and he has single-handedly won the Vietnam War for the Americans back in 1971. Nowadays though, he becomes more and more detached from humanity, which is why his girlfriend, superheroine Silk Spectre (Carla Gugino), ultimately leaves him.
  • Meet Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), once a Batman-like superhero who has given up crimefighting after his kind was outlawed, and he now lives a quiet life. But then Rorschach, his former partner, pays him a visit and lets him in on the mystery he is about to investigate. And then Silk Spectre, having nowhere else to go after her breakup with Doctor Manhattan, moves in with him, and somehow, the memories of the good old days get them horny ... and make them get into their costumes once more.
  • ... and meet Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), labelled the smartest man on earth, who has used his past as superhero to build a business empire, and now he even has the gouvernment in his hands ... but he has loftier goals than making a few bucks, world peace for one.

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Now the stage is set up for big adventure, and before you know it, Rorschach is jailed (its a set-up) and Doctor Manhattan leaves earth for Mars (another set-up) ... but Nite Owl and Silk Spectre free Rorschach, and while Silk Spectre convinces Doctor Manhattan to return to earth, Nite Owl and Rorschach find out that it is actually Ozymandias who is behind everything. But to what avail?

Ultimately, they find out at Ozymandias Arctic hideout: He wants to blow up a few of earth's major cities and blame everything on Doctor Manhattan, thus uniting all countries of the world against a common enemy and making their conflicts amongst each others obsolete. Thsi would mean killing millions of people - but saving billions. Nite Owl and Rorschach try to stop him, but alas, they come too late, the deed has already been done. Enter Doc Manhattan, who is less than happy to have become the world's enemy number one, but he soon becomes convinced that what Ozymandias did was the right thing to do nevertheless - and he has become so detached from humanity as it is that he can start anew literally anywhere. Nite Owl and Silk Spectre soon become convinced that saving the humanity was worth the right price as well, only Rorschach wants to expose Ozymandias, because his peace is based on a lie, and the fact that peace is peace just doesn't count inhis mindset - but Rorschach is ultimately disintegrated by Doc Manhattan who's hell-bent to save humanity from itself.

So everything is good, peace is here, no more war, everybody's happy. Now that's great, but unfortunately, Rorschach's journal has found its way into the office of a right-wing newspaper hell-bent on exposing whatever ...


Watchmen the comic is one of the best-written superhero comicbooks (or rather graphic novels) there are, a satirical look on both its genre and world politics, circa mid-1980's. However, its complex structure needs a few hundred pages to properly tell its story.

Watchmen the movie is directed by Zack Snyder, a man obsessed with surfaces and action mechanics, but hardly an intellectual filmmaker. Which means that Snyder has put his focus on replicating the comicbook's images, often to the t, and he has also mirrored its complexity to keep fanboys all over happy, but he has completely lost the source material's satirical potential along the way, has attributed the comic's socio-political undercurrents to a safe but distant past (an alternate universe's 1980's) to rid the film of any kind of underlying message, plus by keeping the comicbook's complexity, he has turned the material that worked well as a multi-part graphic nocel, into a bit of a convoluted cinematic mess that goes on a bit too long (> 150 minutes) to remain exciting throughout. On top of that, the ensemble cast is uniformly less than special, Snyder's predilection for surfaces robs the story of much of its emotional impact, and the action scenes all look great on a purely technical level, but by and large lack excitement.

That all said, Watchmen is not the worst film ever, not even the worst superhero-movie, but I wouldn't attribute this to Zack Snyder or to a good script, merely to the power of its source material ...


By the way: The film interestingly veers away from its graphic nocel source only once, in the big finale when Ozymandias bombs earth's major cities instead of sending a secretly built mock alien to New York, and that's an improvement over the source material. Maybe more original ideas would have helped the movie (though the alien angle was one of the comicbook's few weaknesses) ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD