Watchmen

  • Directors: Zack Snyder
  • Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Deborah Snyder
  • Writers: David Hayter, Alex Tse, Dave Gibbons, Alan Moore
  • Genres: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Matt Frewer, Stephen McHattie

The story takes place in an alternate timeline in which masked, costumed heros fight crime in America, originally in response to a rise in masked and costumed gangs and criminals. In the 1930s and ’40s, some of the vigilantes formed a group called the Minutemen to “finish what the law couldn’t.” Of the eight Minutemen, three died violently, one disappeared, and one was committed to an asylum. Decades later, a second generation of “superheroes” attempts to form a similar team called the Watchmen. Various historical events are shown to have been altered by the existence of superheroes, such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War. The American victory in Vietnam, due to the intervention of the godlike being Doctor Manhattan, leads to Richard Nixon’s third term as President following the repeal of term limits in the United States. By the 1980s, however, the Watchmen have been outlawed by Congress after an outpouring of anti-vigilante sentiment in the country, and tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union have escalated the Cold War with threats of nuclear attack.

By 1985, only three Watchmen remain active: the Comedian and Doctor Manhattan, both of whom act with government sanction, and the masked vigilante Rorschach, who refuses to retire and remains active illegally. Investigating the murder of government agent Edward Blake, Rorschach discovers that Blake was the Comedian, and concludes that someone may be trying to eliminate the Watchmen. He attempts to warn his retired comrades—his former partner Daniel Dreiberg (Nite Owl), the emotionally detached Dr. Jonathan Osterman (Doctor Manhattan), and Dr. Manhattan’s lover Laurie Jupiter (the Silk Spectre). Dreiberg is skeptical, but nonetheless relates the hypothesis to billionaire Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias), who dismisses it.

With the end of the Cold War and the uniting of humanity, Jupiter and Dreiberg return to New York City as it’s being rebuilt to begin a new life together. The film closes with a newspaper editor in New York complaining of having nothing worthwhile to print because of the worldwide peace. He tells a young employee that he may print whatever he likes from a collection of crank mailings, among which lies Rorschach’s journal.

Tales of the Black Freighter

  • Directors: Zack Snyder
  • Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Deborah Snyder
  • Writers: David Hayter, Alex Tse, Dave Gibbons, Alan Moore
  • Genres: Animation, Short, Horror
  • Actors: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Matt Frewer, Stephen McHattie

The story takes place in an alternate timeline in which masked, costumed vigilantes fight crime in America, originally in response to a rise in masked and costumed gangs and criminals. In the 1930s and ’40s, the vigilantes formed a group called the Minutemen to “finish what the law couldn’t.” Of the eight Minutemen, three died violently, one disappeared, and one was committed to an asylum. Decades later, a second generation of “superheroes” attempts to form a similar team called the Watchmen. Various historical events are shown to have been altered by the existence of superheroes, such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War. The American victory in Vietnam, due to the intervention of the godlike being Doctor Manhattan, leads to Richard Nixon’s third term as President following the repeal of term limits in the United States. By the 1980s, however, the Watchmen have been outlawed by Congress after an outpouring of anti-vigilante sentiment in the country, and tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union have escalated the Cold War with threats of nuclear attack.

By 1985, only three Watchmen remain active: the Comedian and Doctor Manhattan, both of whom act with government sanction, and the masked vigilante Rorschach, who refuses to retire and remains active illegally. Investigating the murder of government agent Edward Blake, Rorschach discovers that Blake was the Comedian, and concludes that someone may be trying to eliminate the Watchmen. He attempts to warn his retired comrades—his former partner Daniel Dreiberg (Nite Owl), the emotionally detached Dr. Jonathan Osterman (Doctor Manhattan), and Dr. Manhattan’s lover Laurie Jupiter (the Silk Spectre). Dreiberg is skeptical, but nonetheless relates the hypothesis to billionaire Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias), who dismisses it.

With the end of the Cold War and the uniting of humanity, Jupiter and Dreiberg return to New York City as it’s being rebuilt to begin a new life together. The film closes with a newspaper editor in New York complaining of having nothing worthwhile to print because of the worldwide peace. He tells a young employee that he may print whatever he likes from a collection of crank mailings, among which lies Rorschach’s journal.

From Hell

  • Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes
  • Producers: Jane Hamsher, Don Murphy, Amy Robinson
  • Writers: Screenplay, Terry Hayes, Rafael Yglesias, Graphic Novel, Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell
  • Genres: Biography, Crime, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Richardson, Jason Flemyng

It is 1888 in London, and the unfortunate poor lead horrifying lives in the city’s deadliest slum, Whitechapel. Harassed by gangs and forced to work the streets for a living, Mary Kelly and her small group of companions trudge on through this daily misery, their only consolation being that things can’t get any worse.

Yet things somehow do when their friend Ann is kidnapped and they are drawn into a conspiracy with links higher up than they could possibly imagine. The kidnapping is soon followed by the gruesome murder of another woman, Polly, and it becomes apparent that they are being hunted down, one by one.

Sinister even by Whitechapel standards, the murder grabs the attention of Inspector Fred Abberline, a brilliant yet troubled man whose police work is often aided by his psychic “visions”. Abberline becomes deeply involved with the case, which takes on personal meaning to him when he and Mary begin to fall in love.

But as he gets closer to the truth Whitechapel becomes more and more dangerous for Abberline, Mary, and the other girls. Whoever is responsible for the grisly acts is not going to give up his secret without a fight.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

  • Directors: Stephen Norrington
  • Producers: Trevor Albert, Rick Benattar, Sean Connery, Mark Gordon, Don Murphy, Michael Nelson
  • Writers: Comic Book, Alan Moore, Kevin O Neill, Screenplay, James Dale Robinson
  • Genres: Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
  • Actors: Sean Connery, Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, Richard Roxburgh, Max Ryan

In 1899, an attack on the Bank of England by a group of men who appear to be German soldiers using advanced weapons followed by an attack on a German Zeppelin factory by the same men this time dressed as British soldiers, leads Europe to the brink of war. An emissary of the British government, Sanderson Reed, arrives in a gentlemen’s club in British East Africa, hoping to recruit the legendary, but now aged, hunter and adventurer Allan Quatermain to investigate the situation. Though Quatermain’s sense of patriotism has waned, he wishes to protect Africa from war and agrees, especially after his lodge is attacked and destroyed by a band of assassins.

In London, Quatermain meets with the mysterious “M”, who explains his plan to assemble a modern version of a group of talented individuals known as the “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, which aids the world in times of need, in this case to combat the threat of the “Fantom”, who is the true mastermind of the current crisis, and ensure world peace, by stopping him from destroying Venice. Quatermain is introduced to Captain Nemo, Commander of the world’s only submersible vessel, invisible gentleman thief Rodney Skinner, who works for the government in hopes of an antidote for the invisibility serum he stole, and Mina Harker, a vampire and well-regarded chemical scientist. The group also recruits the mysterious immortal Dorian Gray, Dr. Henry Jekyll (who can transform into the superhumanly strong Edward Hyde under the effects of a special elixir), and a American Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer; in Hyde’s case, he has to be hunted down by Quatermain and Sawyer before Jekyll offers his services for reprieve in London for his crimes as Hyde. With the team complete, the group takes off on Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus, and set off for Venice. The group worry there is a traitor in their midst when flash powder is found in the wheel room of the Nautilus, and a vial of Jekyll’s transformation serum is determined to be missing. Naturally, all think that the invisible thief, Skinner, is the culprit, but nothing can be done about it since Skinner is nowhere to be found. Though the group reaches Venice in time, a series of bombs that has been planted under the city start to detonate shortly after, toppling buildings in a domino effect. The team decides that knocking one of the buildings out of the sequence is the only way to stop the chain of explosions. Nemo has a missile that can be fired from the Nautilus at the building in question, but only if a beacon can be set in place. Since Nemo can track his “automobile,” allowing it to serve as the beacon, Sawyer drives the car past the chain of explosions, as Gray and Mina disembark to fight the Fantom’s henchmen. Quatermain, meanwhile, notices and gives chase to the Fantom on foot. During the chase, The Fantom is unmasked and revealed to be M, who then escapes. At the same time, Sawyer crashes the car into the target building, while firing a flare, which signals Nemo to launch his missile. The building is destroyed, the chain of explosions stops, and Venice is saved. The League regroups at the Nautilus, where Quatermain reveals that M is behind everything. Nemo’s first mate also reveals that Gray, not Skinner, is the traitor, as he had been mortally shot by Gray, who escapes in an exploration pod. Nemo sets the Nautilus in pursuit, but a record is found from M and Gray, revealing that the League was a ruse so that M could steal physical elements from each of the League members, so as to construct an army of super-powered soldiers; Captain Nemo’s science and technology, Jekyll’s formula, Mina’s blood, and a sample of Skinner’s invisible skin; Quatermain was merely used to capture Hyde. M seeks to profit by starting a world war and selling armaments and weaponry based on the powers of the League to the combatant countries. As the record is played, it also releases a second, high-frequency signal which sets off three bombs in the ship, but Hyde is able to stop the ship from sinking.

The League assembles in Africa to bury Quatermain. As the group departs, a tribal witch doctor takes handfuls of dirt from Quatermain’s grave and begins a ritual chant. We are reminded of a witch doctor’s pronouncement, recounted by Quatermain at the beginning of the movie, that Africa would not let Quatermain die. The earth shakes violently, making the rifle that Sawyer had left on the grave shake. Lightning strikes Quatermain’s grave right before the screen cuts to black.

Constantine

  • Directors: Francis Lawrence
  • Producers: Gilbert Adler, Michael Aguilar
  • Writers: Screenplay, Kevin Brodbin, Frank Cappello, Comic Book, Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis
  • Genres: Action, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
  • Actors: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Rossdale, Peter Stormare, Nicholas Downs

Searching through ruins in Mexico, a young man accidentally finds the Spear of Destiny wrapped in a Nazi flag. Immediately possessed by a supernatural force, he is propelled on a journey to Los Angeles, where he is now seemingly indestructible and causing demonic and unnatural damage as he goes. In Los Angeles, occult detective John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) exorcises a demon from a teenage girl, finding himself unnerved by the demon’s unusually bold attempt at crossing over into humanity’s realm. Later that night, disturbed mental patient Isabel Dodson (Rachel Weisz) commits suicide, provoking the sorrow and disbelief of her twin sister, L.A.P.D. Detective Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz). Visiting the hospital where Isabel died, Angela encounters Constantine, who is being treated at the same hospital for his terminal lung cancer, a result of his decades-long chain-smoking habit. Disgusted with the prognosis, Constantine visits a nearby church to speak with the angel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton), angrily asking what more he must do to earn God’s forgiveness. Unsympathetic to Constantine’s plight, Gabriel rebuffs his attempts at reconciliation with God, tells him about sacrifices which can be done and then pointing out the selfish undertones beneath his good deeds. Meanwhile at the same church, Angela begs a priest to allow Isabel to receive a church-sanctioned funeral, which the Bishop has refused, pointing out the Catholic rules regarding suicides.

At the end of the film’s credits, Constantine visits Chas’s grave, leaving his cigarette lighter atop the grave. As Constantine turns to leave, Chas appears as an angel, and flies silently into the sky, leaving behind a smiling Constantine.

V for Vendetta

  • Directors: James McTeigue
  • Producers: Joel Silver, Larry Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Grant Hill
  • Writers: Screenplay, Larry Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Comic Book, Alan Moore, David Lloyd
  • Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt

In the year 2038, Britain has become totalitarian and is ruled by the Far-Right Norsefire regime. The story follows Evey Hammond, a young woman who is rescued from state police by a masked vigilante known as “V”. After rescuing her, they witness V’s destruction of the Old Bailey. The regime explains the incident to the public as an emergency demolition, but this is shown to be a lie when V takes over the state-run British Television Network (BTN) the same day. He broadcasts a message urging the people of Britain to rise up against the oppressive government on the fifth of November; one year from that day, when V will destroy the Houses of Parliament. Evey helps V escape, but is put in danger. V saves Evey from being captured and interrogated by officials and does this by bringing her to his lair, where she is told that she must stay in hiding with him. Upon learning that V is killing government officials, she escapes to the home of one of her superiors at the BTN, television personality Gordon Deitrich. However, after he broadcasts a comedic show about the country’s current regime, the state police raid Gordon’s home, capturing Evey. She is incarcerated and tortured for days, which includes the length of her hair being shorn, leaving her with short hair. Finding solace only in notes left by another prisoner, Valerie, Evey is told that she will be executed unless she reveals V’s whereabouts. Evey says she would rather die. She is then released. Evey discovers that her imprisonment was staged by V, to free her from fear of the fascist government-“Only when you accept death are you free”, V tells her. Later that day Evey leaves V, promising to return before the fifth of November.

Evey is about to send the train down the track, when she is discovered by Inspector Finch. However, Finch, having learned much about the corruption of the Norsefire regime, allows Evey to proceed. Meanwhile, thousands of Londoners, all wearing Guy Fawkes masks, march on Parliament to watch the event. Among these Londoners, we see the faces of those who have died, including a little girl shot by the police for wearing the mask; Evey’s parents; Valerie, the lesbian prisoner in the cell next to V’s whose words had given him his drive; Ruth, Valerie’s partner; and Gordon Dietrich. Because Creedy and the Chancellor are dead, the British Army stands down in the face of a civil rebellion. Parliament is destroyed by the explosion. On a nearby rooftop, Evey and Finch watch the scene together.