Rolling Stone

23 Watchmen

HBO 2019

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We live in the age of IP, where familiar titles are adapted again and again, simply because of that familiarit­y, and not because anyone has an original thought about them. Then there is Watchmen. The original mid-Eighties comics masterpiec­e by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons proved impossible to adapt for decades. The 2009 Zack Snyder film managed to re-create most of the plot while utterly missing the point of the endeavor. Lost and Leftovers alum Damon Lindelof went a different way when the property fell into his hands, using the world Moore and Gibbons built to tell a fanciful yet raw story about the ugly history of American racism, as seen through the eyes of Sister Night (Regina King), a police officer who, like her colleagues, dons a mask and special uniform so she can do her violent work with impunity. (When some cops in our world began wearing masks while dealing with the post-George Floyd protests, the show proved unfortunat­ely prophetic.) Sister Night finds herself at the center of a swirling narrative that incorporat­es the Tulsa race massacre of 1921, multiple trips to one of Jupiter’s moons, time travel, a space dildo, and a costumed hero whom cops dub “Lube Man.” Yet all those wildly disparate elements — including an all-time musical score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, plus terrific performanc­es by King, Jean Smart, Jeremy Irons, Hong Chau, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II — feel of a transfixin­g piece with one another, and also with the elusive source material.

 ?? ?? KING, ABDUL-MATEEN, AND IRONS (FROM LEFT)
KING, ABDUL-MATEEN, AND IRONS (FROM LEFT)

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