Rated 5.0

Genre-pushing Watchmen succeeds brilliantly on many levels. It’s a graphic novelization set in 1985, during Richard Nixon’s fifth term. That’s right: Nixon’s fifth term. The Cold War with the Russians persists, though the U.S. did bring a speedy and victorious end to the Vietnam War, thanks to a seemingly omnipotent hero named Dr. Manhattan. As the movie opens, The Comedian, a former member of a masked-do-gooder band called the Watchmen—né Minutemen—gets tossed to his death through a condo window. One of his allies, Rorschach, takes to the murder mystery like a film noir detective. In these moments, Watchmen is a lot like Dark City and Sin City, even the beginning of The Matrix. As things move along—at a surprisingly brisk pace for a 163-minute film—director Zack Snyder dangles myriad, seemingly disparate threads. One moment, Dr. Strangelove breaks out; another, there’s a burst of A Clockwork Orange. It may be too much for viewers who prefer their comic-book heroes two-dimensional. But for those who demand depth, savor substance and don’t mind having their wheels turn, Watchmen fully satisfies. Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated R