I must admit, in the beginning of this year, I wasn't looking forward to much of anything. All I really had to look forward to in cinema, were the films that were yet to be released in theaters where I live, that came out in 2008. The summer actually brought some quality films and not to mention made me appreciate certain genres that I never found myself appreciating before. The following films are in no particular order or importance...just films I saw this year and my abridged reviews for them.
Watchmen - Directed by Zach Snyder
The genre of comic book films got a huge notice as of last year with the monstrous Dark Knight; Christopher Nolans vision of Batman for the new age. After a film like that, comic book films definitely became something more critics were noticing. With the right writers, you can easily meld a story that resonates within cultures, beliefs, mirror society, and of course still have the fun of dressing the characters up in costumes. I use Dark Knight as my stepping stone in this write up because many people consider it to be the greatest comic book film of all time, I beg to differ. When Zach Snyder first came onto the scene with his lackluster debut of the re-imagined Dawn of the Dead, I wrote him off as another young director that hollywood would use to exploit older creations and just bring in the run of the mill audiences into the multiplex. Then, Snyder makes you notice his next film 300, based on Frank Miller's graphic novel. 300, shot entirely on green screen, turned out to be a pleasant surprise and showed Snyder blossoming into something more special as a director, not to mention, creating a style of action that's as noticeable as John Woo's gunplay of the 1980's. Based on a graphic novel that has a rabid following starting since it's release in the mid 1980's, Watchmen is a story of a grand scale, dealing with the indignation of a group of superheroes that are wondering if the society they've spent years protecting, is still worth saving. The film feels as if each scene is literally taken directly from the pages of the graphic novel, which isn't a bad thing in this case. In the first scene consisting of a beautifully choreographed fight, scored to the Nat King Cole classic "unforgettable", Snyder immediately grabs your attention and shows you that his maturity as a filmmaker has grown tenfold. Watchmen is a story that speaks and entertains in volumes to nearly every age group. What's more interesting about the story, and what I found to be absolutely fascinating, was the amalgam of historical events that were true in society, being altered by these pivotal characters. In return, the involvement of these characters in such events as The Vietnam War, The Kennedy Assassination, and the US reaching the moon, give us the product of the society we see in this film.
Watchmen are the second generation of heroes following the Minutemen. The novel contains more of a detailed history on the older generation heroes. However, since the story is so vast, Snyder covered the history of these characters respectfully and beautifully, with a montage in the opening credits of the film, scored with the Bob Dylan classic "The times they are a changin". The film generally follows Rorscach, the more sadistic of the group, investigating the murder of one of his peers; Edward Blake otherwise known as The Comedian. As he continues to pry more into the reasons behind the murder of his friend, he goes out to warn the rest of his fellow Watchmen, who are living normal lives due to a law banning their vigilante actions as per the president. The Casting is excellent with a melting pot of seasoned film veterans and great up and coming talent. The film is epic in scale and is saturated with character studies that greatly add to the central plot of the film. The metaphors of the film/novel's society and message of right and wrong easily transcend to this generation and are just as important as they were when the novel was originally written in the mid 1980's. Watchmen was the first film of 2009 that I thoroughly enjoyed and surprisingly enough, is actually in the top 3 of best films of 2009.
more films of 2009 to come...including Up, The Hangover, Drag Me To Hell, Star Trek, Inglorious Basterds, and District 9.