'Finally, after 23 years of tortured development, pinging from studio to studio, star to star, and even courtroom to courtroom, the Watchmen adaptation has arrived on screen. It’s not for the faint-hearted - and, despite the preponderance of Spandex outfits, capes and costumes, not for the kids either.
'The movie, a 2¾ hour epic that had its world premiere in Leicester Square, is based on Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons's seminal graphic novel about a group of ex-superheroes coming to terms with themselves and an impending nuclear doomsday. For more than two decades a big screen adaptation has been the maddeningly elusive goal of directors such as Terry Gilliam and Darren Aronofsky, and actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joaquin Phoenix.
'Even when this $100 million version, directed by Zack Snyder, became the centre of a court battle between Hollywood studios (one accused the other of copyright violation, and blocked the movie’s release) it only added to the sense that Watchmen would never see the inside of a cinema.
'The film that has emerged, however, is a mesmerising and brutalising experience, and will be, for some at least, more than worth the wait. Set in a mid-Eighties Manhattan of the comic book imagination, where “costumed vigilantes” have changed the course of US history (Nixon is saved, the Vietcong defeated, etc), the dense narrative unfolds as a whodunnit in the head of a psychopathic do-gooder called Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley). In Stygian nightscapes reminiscent of Taxi Driver and Seven, Rorschach visits his four former crime-fighting buddies, including Matthew Goode’s brainiac businessman Ozymandias and Malin Akerman’s killer femme Silk Spectre, in an attempt to expose a secret assassin who’s nurturing apocalyptic plans for the entire Eastern seaboard.' (Times review & Isohunt torrent download).