Watchmen is a wholly different kind of superhero movie. Having never read the original graphic novels on which this movie was based, I walked into the IMAX Theatre on Saturday night with an entirely fresh perspective. The trailer was positively electric and while some characters, like Nite Owl, looked far too generic, there were others who were anything but generic.
Watchmen takes place in an alternate reality of the 1980s, a reality where the Americans won the Vietnam War (thanks to the help of an atomic Dr. Manhattan), Richard Nixon is elected as President for the third time, and there are a group of eccentric individuals extracting vigilante justice while wearing masks. Since these so-called superheroes are out fighting the bad guys, I expected a lot more in terms of action. What I got instead was fantastic storytelling and a fascinating character piece. These “superheroes” are only human. They don’t have any powers, with the exception of Dr. Manhattan and his god-like ways (his “origins” sequence is amazing).
What action and fighting does exist in Watchmen, however, is a sight to behold. The gore and violence is completely over the top, not unlike 300 or Sin City, given their common “dark” graphic novel origins. This movie is not for the feint of heart: expect to see plenty of exploding guts and severed limbs. The epic blockbuster leaves a few questions unanswered, like the mechanism behind Rorscharch’s morphing mask, but I’m assuming that these are answered in the graphic novel. What we are left with in the movie are deep character histories, a constant questioning of morality, and a nearly sublime artistic style. It’s not the film of the year, but it’s very much worth the price of admission.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is possibly the first in a series of movies from Capcom that will feature the background stories for a number of Street Fighter characters. In its utter cheesiness, the original live action Street Fighter movie of the 90s with Raul Julia as Bison and Jean-Claude Van Damme as Colonel Guile was very entertaining. That film didn’t adhere to the canon of the Street Fighter universe, but it was fun and ironic. By contrast, The Legend of Chun-Li tries to adhere to the core story a little more closely, giving us the origins of how Chun-Li got involved with Interpol in the first place.
In terms of setting, The Legend of Chun-Li appears to take place around the Alpha era of the Street Fighter timeline, introducing us to such characters as Charlie (Nash in Japan) and Gen. Kristen Kreuk takes on the title role, even though she’s not completely Chinese nor does she have the “thunder thighs” of her famed back alley combatant character. Unlike the Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle, though, this current movie completely lacks in the fun department. It seems to be taking itself way too seriously and there is nothing that really draws you into the story to warrant that seriousness. It almost makes you yearn for the blue beret again.
Bison was too small, Gen was too young, and Kreuk was not brutal enough. That said, I hope that they do continue this new series, simply because I want to see what they do with The Legend of Ryu or, better still, The Legend of Akuma. In the meantime, you’re much better off playing Street Fighter IV and laughing at the satire of Street Fighter: The Later Years. You think with the SFIV reboot that this movie would have garnered more attention. Now I can see why they didn’t screen it for critics.