"None of you have been waiting as long as I have for what you are about to see tonight," said DC Comics president Paul Levitz to a Manhattan screening room packed with journalists earlier this week. The occasion was the East Coast unveiling of an extended sneak peek at Watchmen, already the most buzzed-about film of 2009 - to put it mildly. By some quirk of good fortune, the staff of Movies Without Pity was also in attendance, and although we have to defer to Mr. Levitz on the anticipation front (after all, he was there when the movie rights to the graphic novel were first sold 20 years ago), we can honestly say that the time between the release of the trailer this summer and the theatrical release date next spring certainly feels two-decades-long to us.
So we thank the powers that be (in this case, Warner Bros.) for allowing Zack Snyder to present us with our first look at nearly 30 minutes worth of footage from the film, including the opening scene and credit sequence in their entirety. And in turn, we present a recap of what we saw, with as much detail as our overloaded synapses let us absorb. (Editor's Note: If you ever get to a scene that you can't picture, just pick up your copy of the Watchmen graphic novel, and there's a pretty good chance that's what it looks like.)
The footage kicks off with stark black logos for Warner Bros, Paramount, Legendary Pictures and DC Comics on a yellow background, very much in keeping with the book's graphic design. It zooms out to be a close-up on a smiley-face button on the fuzzy bathrobe of Edward Blake, a graying, mustachioed man. He's in the kitchen, pouring boiling water from a whistling kettle for tea, and as he walks back to his easy chair in front of the television, you see that there are three rifles over the fireplace and a pin-up illustration of the original Silk Spectre hanging on the wall. Starting to get an idea of what kind of guy he is? Brother, you have no idea.
Blake sits and watches TV, and, as the news talks about nuclear treaties and Russia, we cut to the elderly President Nixon talking at the presidential podium while reading off of a teleprompter about talks with the Soviet Union. We then see footage of nuclear scientists moving the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock into place at five minutes to midnight. Call me ignorant, but I guess I never realized there was an actual Doomsday Clock. I assumed it was one of them, whaddayacallem, metaphors? Go figure!