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They watch over us... but who watches them? 

Year: 2009 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Zack Snyder 
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup  
An image from Watchmen

In an alternative 1985 where Richard Nixon presides once more over an America at war, the world grits its teeth as the doomsday clock ticks ever closer to Armageddon by nuclear holocaust…

Investigating the death of retired crime-fighter The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), creepy vigilante Rorschach (Earle Haley) concludes that someone is killing masked heroes in order to pave the way for catastrophic warfare. He warns his former comrades, now all forced into early retirement by a ban on superheroics: Nite Owl (Wilson), Silk Spectre (Akerman), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), and Dr Manhattan (Crudup) – the latter being the only one with genuine superpowers, akin to a god. With the fate of humanity at stake, the Watchmen don their latex suits once again. But saving the world is far from easy, especially with their own mortal dilemmas and emotions in the way at every turn.

After an arduous history of attempted adaptations, Zack Snyder triumphs as the director who was able to transform Alan Moore’s revered graphic novel into a big-screen success. With some scenes matching the comic panel-for-panel, long-time fans should not be disappointed. Furthermore, the film is equally enjoyable for newcomers who don’t know their Moloch from their Bubastis: an array of broody characters and sexy, stylised action scenes make this an enthralling film for all. But what sets Watchmen apart from other comic adaptations is its profound analysis of human nature, reflecting on the macabre, self-destructive tendency of mankind towards war.

The cast fit fantastically in their respective roles, most notably Earle Haley’s emotionless Rorschach, who could make your skin crawl. The only point of controversy is the soundtrack: with iconic songs spanning three decades, some fit perfectly, but there are a couple so hideously out of place you want to tear your hair out. Nevertheless, phenomenal cinema.

Owen Rye

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Screenings of this film:

2008/2009 Summer Term (35mm)
2008/2009 Summer Term (35mm)