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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Katarina Rothhorn
Katarina Rothhorn
Features Writer

The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Long awaited adaptation delivers

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It’s rare to see a true epic in theaters these days. Typically, Hollywood tries to milk a franchise for as much as it’s worth, telling a story that could have easily been done in one film over the course of many. So often grand stories become pop-culture filler that culminate in nothing more than A-list celebrities running around as drunken pirates spouting witty catch-phrases that can be slapped onto T-shirts.

But perhaps the times are changing, as evident by “Watchmen,” the latest comic-book adaptation. For the first time in years a true epic has come to the big screen, one devoid of cliché marketing gimmicks and instead filled with soul, layered with stimulating thought.

The story of “Watchmen” revolves around an alternate version of U.S. history, where we won Vietnam, Nixon is still president, even up through the mid 1980s and masked vigilantes are a reality. The film opens with the United States and Russia on the brink of nuclear war. However, for masked hero Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), there are more pressing matters. One of his fellow masks (the short-hand version of masked vigilantes), the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), has been murdered. Suspecting that it wasn’t just a mere robbery, Rorschach sets out to warn other masks that someone is trying to kill them all. But what starts as one man’s extreme paranoia slowly unveils a sinister plot that could threaten more than just the Watchmen.

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For a film released in March, well before the summer box-office season, “Watchmen” has fantastic production values. Everything is handled with the utmost professionalism and respect, resulting in a film that is just flat-out gorgeous. Whether it’s the constantly-changing face of Rorschach or the glowing Dr. Manhattan, everything looks amazing. Coupled with some fantastic editing and great cinematography, “Watchmen” completely delivers on the aesthetic front.

A lot of people (mostly guys) have taken issue with the liberal use of full-frontal male nudity with Dr. Manhattan. I bring this up because the way in which it’s handled illustrates perfectly how director Zack Snyder approached the film – with a heavy sense of maturity. Very rarely are there moments of cheese – this film, coupled with “The Dark Knight,” has proven once and for all that comic book films are fertile ground for serious discourse.

The story of “Watchmen” is definitely that – serious and intellectually deep. Viewers will question the morals of the masks, as well as their true motivations. It takes all preconceived notions of morality and flips them on their head, forcing the viewer to come to their own conclusions. Only a film as well crafted as “Watchmen” can deliver on such lofty goals.

Yet not all is perfect. The biggest problem is its pacing. Clocking in at 163 minutes, the movie is, believe it or not, way too short. Certain scenes that seem like they should hold some emotional weight to them fly past, leaving the viewer hardly any time to soak it all in before the next scene comes barreling through. There is a 190-minute directors cut that, if all goes well at the box office, will be released in theaters this June. If anything, the film can only benefit from this added screen time, and they should have just released that version right off the bat.

There is one more aspect to “Watchmen” that will bitterly divide fans – the soundtrack. When Zack Snyder chose to keep the film in the ’80s, he kept everything in the ’80s, or earlier. The result is possibly one of the most eclectic soundtracks ever, with Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” to ’80s classic “99 Luftballons” by Nena. Most of these songs work, both because they fit into the film and also because they touch on themes that the film touches on. However, there are a couple of duds, most notably an odd use of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. Although this is a downside, it’s only a minor one, and one most fans will forgive.

With an epic story filled with intriguing characters that run the gamut of human emotions, “Watchmen” has become the first must-see film of 2009. Its rich, deep narrative will leave viewers not only questioning the morals of those characters they’ve seen on screen, but the morals of the world in which we live today.


More “Watchmen”

Scott Viau’s review of the “Watchmen” graphic novel: “Watchmen” a timeless classic

Read Scott Viau’s History of the Watchmen

Also check out Adam Dompierre’s list of the top five comic book movies of all time.

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