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TV Show Reviews

HBO’s Watchmen (2019) Mini-Series is a Substantially “Adequate” Sequel to Alan Moore’s Graphic Novel

The Following Review is Spoiler-Free

I’m a bit fed up with people recently treating the subject of “racism” as an “only for political reasons” commodity in entertainment media. Why can’t a movie/TV show just simply explore the topic of xenophobia without being called SJW propaganda? If your only argument is, “oh, because it uses white supremacy as a central thematic topic in a time like 2019,” then the far-right population has really gotten desperate—just as much so as the far-left public did last decade, resulting in the reinvigoration of a term like “SJW.” As someone who is a detester of political correctness and that of unconscious racial bias in politics (duh), I can safely say Watchmen is not an SJW television program. It takes no clear sides of your red and blue color party spectrum, and if anything, jabs at both liberals and conservatives through a violent exaggeration of toxic, modern political aggression. 

Plus, blending history and political philosophy into Watchmen is a very Watchmen thing to do too, so I don’t know why people got riled up about it in the first place but okay contradicting society. Need I remind you, the comic-book is a possibly communist piece, no matter what Alan Moore says. If anything, HBO’s television show is less liberal than the actual source material you apparently know so well.

Now onto the actual review, of the actual TV show’s quality, as an actual art—instead of shamefully protesting and botting on Rotten Tomatoes before actually seeing the mini-series itself…

HBO’s Watchmen is a “light” sequel to Alan Moore’s infamous comic-book series under the same title. The book as well as Zack Snyder’s under-appreciated interpretation of the graphic novel, both explored the now infamous concept of superhero characters being more of a conflicting attribute of human society rather than a positive one. The ambitious follow-up applies the controversial logic of its source material with more modern-day social grounds. Aiming rapid commentary at numerous justice system issues, terrorism conflicts, historical regrets, and America’s future of a maybe-too-sensitive culture (AKA, a far-left way of life), this new rendition amplifies 21st-century communal quarrels into bigger than life affairs almost (but not really) as well as the original Watchmen story had done so to 80s affairs. So, evidently, things are exaggerated in Watchmen for a greater effect like The 7th Kalvary, a white supremacist group—misleadingly inspired by Rorschach’s diary that he idiotically sent to a far-right committee—that hopefully has doubt of existing at such a large rate in America during 2019. But, as always, this is the edgy superhero genre that Moore helped innovate in the first place, so when is an intense story like this ever not exaggerated?  

Angela, Looking Glass, and Hooded Justice all have gifted, well-utilized character development and backstories that really put the narrative at hand as a powerful multi-perspective outlet. More importantly, though, Jeremy Irons is a total freak in this show as the notorious Ozymandias. The mini-series additionally includes a bundle of worthwhile set pieces, costumes, and sci-fi concepts occurring in this new addition to the Watchmen universe. There is surprisingly some exceptionally tasteful and slick directing in here as well, especially in the often black-and-white sixth episode. 

Like Zack Snyder’s take on Watchmen, however, HBO’s live-action rekindling of the graphic novel is quite flawed. The score and soundtrack are sometimes a little overkill—love you, Trent, don’t take it the wrong way, the editing just boosted the music too heavily most of the time and sometimes it felt out of place. It’s a fabulous 3-part score on its own, nonetheless. The special effects are sometimes unbalanced in quality, with some looking adequate and some looking unusually humiliating. The editing gets spiteful and particularly zippy from time to time. There’s some awkward dialogue here and there, not to mention. Cheesy villain motives are splattered ridiculously throughout the mini-series. A lot of the scenarios and convolutions cooked up in the insane scale of the show are sometimes a little difficult to believe, leading to some odd character decisions or unbuyable narrative circumstances. And, as always, it’s hard not to dispatch the plot-holes and conveniences in a show that brims itself with almost too many twists and turns that are vigorously obsessed with trying to even out the occasionally rocky pace. It’s additionally unfortunate that the last episode of Watchmen features almost every superhero finale cliché imaginable and for a show that didn’t need the anti-climactic extravaganza, it feels entirely out of left-field. In general, it’s furthermore written quite haphazardly, involving contradicting character decisions, momentously rushed plot points, and preposterously over-stretched MacGuffins. 

A part of me wishes that there was a more distinct and charismatic style to the show like in Zack Synder’s Watchmen, but for what it’s worth, as a whole, I’d say they’re both almost on par with each other in quality despite the fact that the mini-series has an utterly exhausting conclusion. The follow-up to Alan Moore’s graphic novel is devastatingly faithful to the offensive, political, and thematic explorations of its predecessor, presenting extreme new ideas as well as old ones. No matter what naysayers may be saying at the moment about this anticipated sequel to Watchmen, I’d suggest checking it out yourself and seeing what all the fuss is really about before saying a word on its rumored political properties.

Watchmen Math:

1. It’s Summer and We’re Running out of Ice = B

2. Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship = B-

3. She Was Killed by Space Junk = B-

4. If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own = B-

5. Little Fear of Lighting = B

6. The Extraordinary Being = A-

7. An Almost Religious Awe = B-

8. A God Walks into Abar = B+

9. See How They Fly = D+

Verdict: B-

The continuity of Asian lineage in this mini-series also made my brain numb. No specific name spoilers, but a Caucasian and Asian girl grows up to become a full Asian mom (already, WTF, I know), is impregnated by a full Caucasian dad, and gives birth to a full Asian baby. Something does not add up here. When you see the show, you’ll know what I’m nitpicking about. These are the kinds of details that strangely tick-off mixed people. 

“Watchmen” is now available to stream on HBO.

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