Billy Crudup (blue), Jackie Earle Haley (terrifying), Matthew Goode (Aryan), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (gruff), Patrick Wilson (four-eyed), Malin Akerman (latex-clad), Carla Gugino (Bette Davis)
What’s it about?
In 2009, the most anticipated film in FHM’s year landed early.
Based on the 1985 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (named as one of the top 100 novels of the 20th century by Time magazine), news of this release ignited internet nerd-rage not seen since the Sega Dreamcast was discontinued. Die-hard fans of the book – as well as creator Moore himself, who has said “I’ll be spitting venom all over this for months to come” – have long regarded the story as unfilmable. Terry Gilliam had a go in the 1980s and gave up. Eventual director Zack Snyder – him of gay history documentary 300 – had a big job on his hands.
So, what is this holy grail of comic excellence? Said nerds will tell you it’s about utilitarianism and an admonition to those who trust in “heroes” and leaders to guard the world’s fate. If you’ve never read the book, it’s kind of a load of vigilantes (and a huge radioactive man who can teleport to Mars when he’s bored) who get all uppity when one of their friends is murdered. Think Miss Marple with capes and a massive atomic Smurf. In 1985 New York, if Nixon was still president. With the world about to end...
What’s good about it?
Well, this is not one more cult gem destroyed by Hollywood’s childlike hands. They didn’t fuck it up, and for that we can be grateful. It looks fantastic, with a dark, ruined and paranoid Cold War New York under nuclear threat transposed fully intact to the screen. Snyder has also maintained the air of melancholy that made the graphic novel characters so endearingly pitiful. There’s something pretty bleak about about superheroes with pot-bellies and drinking problems.
In the super pissed-off Rorschach, the world has new favourite fancy dress costume: Jackie Earle Haley steals the show, with his self-administered paedophile beatdown the best bit of on-screen violence in a pretty brutal film. Fellow vigilante The Comedian – Jeffrey Dean Morgan – is also a brilliantly demented neo-con with a taste for liberal blood. And despite the howls of pain when it was revealed that the ending has been changed, this one actually makes more sense.
What’s bad about it?
As Snyder told FHM, if he had taken the original book and filmed it from start to finish, he would have made a 60 hour movie. As a result, although it’s an epic two hours forty minutes, the plot still feels rushed: it rattles through the whole story, without giving you much time to enjoy an entire world turning to cock in front of you.
And if we're being picky, the easy on the eye Malin Ackerman is no Olivier in the acting stakes, while staring at a naked Doctor Manhattan’s impressively swinging dong for almost three hours does get old. (Not Billy Crudup’s actual manhood, fact fans. He claims his is a lot smaller).
Plus, for us, the whole thing could have been dirtier, scuzzier and more disgusting. But then, that’s probably just us.
With reservations, the greatest graphic novel ever written gets a film that does it justice. Would have made an incredible mini-series for TV. Maybe next time?
Out in cinemas from 6 March
Watch the amazing viral advertising video here.
PLUS! FHM EXCLUSIVE EXTRA!
Click below to listen to some live chat with the director and cast from Monday's premiere...
Zack Snyder (Director) and Deborah Snyder (Producer)
Malin Ackerman (Sally Sceptre 2), Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl) and Carla Gugino (Sally Sceptre)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian) and Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach)
Matthew Goode (Ozymandias) and Billy Crudup (Doctor Manhattan)