Watchmen (US, 2009)

Objectification with a difference?

Objectification with a difference?

I’ll ignore the question as to whether the film’s as good as the graphic novel and deal with it in isolation. It’s not a typical Hollywood action movie, though the shadow of The Matrix (1999) is still looming for the fight sequences, as it is infused with melancholy and the emotional punch is garnered through a woman coming to terms with her mother against the usual Oedpal narrative. While Malin Akerman is an unfeasibly scrawny action hero, whose dress is about revealing her body shape, Watchmen is unusual in showing the male protagonist’s cock. And it’s not just Hollywood that averts its gaze from the male member. True Dr Manhattan isn’t human but he does sport a six-pack and, I guess, an attractive arse so men are objectified too.

Dr Manhattan is also the locus of the melancholy, though the noir atmosphere that infuses the film (again The Matrix sprang to mind) is also grim. It’s unusual to have such a bunch of dysfunctional heroes. Night Owl’s sexual potency is questioned; Rorsach is borderline psychopath; Comedian a rapist; Ozymandias a megalomaniac. Silk Spectre is only ‘normal’ one. Of course all this difference is a result of the source material, Moore and Gibbons’ anti- super hero comic book.

Director Zack Snyder has does a good job in visualising Moore-Gibbons alternative world where the US won the Vietnam war and Tricky Dicky is elected for a third term. I don’t what audiences unfamiliar with the source material made of the film but, for the record, I enjoyed it more than the novel (which is not to say it’s better).

Wanted (US, 2008)

Who’s watching the watchers?’

Up until the last 20 mins I quite enjoyed this routine (ie heavily generic) action feature with some eye-popping stunts. Then its subtleties kicked in and it revealed itself as a very clever play on the action genre (with its boring rites of violence passage). The visuals are impressive throughout, presumably from the source graphic novel; particularly the weaving room – especially when it was destroyed into a web of chaos (shades of Wagner’s norns?).

Jolie sleepwalks through (as does Freeman until the end – though he’s nicely cast against type); but McAvoy inhabits his role well. Can’t understand why it was an 18 in the UK.

‘Who watches the watchers?” is an old question given vitality by this movie.

Sin City (US, 2005)

Visually stunning rendition of Miller’s graphic novel. As sexist as the source material, true, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It depends how your read it; and the blokes are not exactly paragons of masculinity. (DVD, 2)