Friday, 9 May 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2009: Jackie Earle Haley in Watchmen

Jackie Earle Haley did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Rorschach in Watchmen.

Watchmen I may call an admirable failure or at least an intriguing misfire. It has some pretty dreadful elements in it. One thing that hurts more scenes than I would like to count is the horrendous sound effects Zach Snyder decided to use in the fight scenes, which makes all of them sound at least slightly silly. Another is the nature of the performances many which are terrible such as many of the several supporting roles like the Nixon impersonator for example, but also unfortunately two of the major roles are underwhelming. The awfully wooden Malin Akerman makes nothing out of her role and even worse, for the film anyway, is Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt known as Ozymandias. Goode is a black hole in terms of charisma and makes a potentially fascinating character into just a woefully inadequate and obvious villain, shame they did not get Michael Fassbender as he would have been perfect for the role.

The film though is not all bad though and its sheer ambitious does come through in a positive fashion as there are definitely some great scenes within it especially the opening credits sequence. There are also good performances to be seen including the almost lead, but not quite, Jackie Earle Haley who plays Rorschach. Rorschach for much of the film is are point of view character as he narrates, via his diary, his investigation into the death of the former superhero known as the Comedian. For much of the film Haley is in a full costume including the white mask with ever changing Rorschach tests that cover his face. This does not seem to limit Haley in the slightest though, going right down to his physical portrayal of Rorschach. There is a certain introverted, and peculiar style of movement that Haley employs which really makes him stand out. In his ever so slightly erratic movement Haley suggests the state of mind of the man as well as the violent capabilities of the man.

Haley in the role uses a voice that is rather similar to the one used by Christian Bale when he was in costume as Batman. Although the voice technically is extremely close with the extra gruff and grit Hale's is far superior in this case for two reasons. One being that Haley frankly articulates better to begin with making it actually bring some menace rather than letting the voice be overly distracting all by itself. The other reason being that it alludes well to the truth we learn about Rorschach later on. Haley never allows Rorschach to be simply an image as he easily could have been. Haley makes himself engaging every moment he is onscreen and makes Rorschach a compelling character to follow through the investigation, and his performance actually roped me along even through some of the rougher patches in the film, and by rougher patches I do not mean violent scenes.

Eventually through the investigation Rorschach falls into a trap and right into police custody where his mask is taken and the real Rorschach is revealed. Jackie Earle Haley actually appears out of the costume in a few other scenes before it is shown that he is Rorschach. He appears in the background many times as a man holding an "The End is Near" sign, but it is a complete revelation that this seemingly meek man is in fact imposing vigilante. This change in Rorschach is technically quite extreme and Haley is rather masterful in portraying this rather extreme transition for the character as we meet Walter Kovacs the man behind the mask. The mask is in question though as Rorschach refers to the mask as a face as the police rip it off and we see that Rorschach is not the most mentally stable of men. The particular twist involves what Rorschach exactly is in regards to Kovacs.

Haley as Kovacs brings a blank almost timid face as if without his "face" he might as well be naked in the world. Haley presents Kovacs as a man who seems almost lost in this state, and portrays the fact that really Kovacs and Rorschach are two different entities. In his Kovacs Haley gives a quieter more realistic voice, and presents Kovacs as particularly meek in his physical manner as well. In this Haley shows that Rorschach was something that was created at one time by Kovacs therefore explaining the put on nature of Rorschach, yet was created for so long that what he created become its own entity that dominates over whatever Kovacs may have been before hand. Haley very effectively shows that whenever Kovacs is threatened the Rorschach voice and manner returns as almost a safety mechanism that emerges whenever the Rorschach personality is needed.

Jackie Earle Haley's performance is excellent as he really let's us into the deranged mind of Rorschach and his execution of the revelation of Rorschach is almost flawless through the way he had set up the character in all of the scenes proceeding that moment. Haley's best scene though I think comes at the end of the film when the watchmen learn why the comedian was killed and are forced to keep silent about a mass murder in order to avoid nuclear annihilation. Rorschach's own philosophy refuses to leave a crime unpunished and he is forced basically to die due to this belief. Haley is surprisingly heartbreaking in this scene as he so powerfully combines the two sides of the man together for his end. He begins with the Rorschach character as he states his beliefs with conviction, then so delicately reveals the man understanding that he must die for this, which is most pronounced in the way Haley makes the growl waver and we seem to finally see Rorschach and Kovacs meet. This is a fantastic performance by Jackie Earle Haley, one that I found only grew stronger on re-watch, and honestly I could not imagine anyone in the role but Haley.  

15 comments:

luke higham said...

Louis: Are you reviewing Haley & Morgan Separately.

Louis Morgan said...

Yes

luke higham said...

Brilliant Performance, and your right, what was Snyder thinking with Goode instead of Fassbender for the part of Ozymandias, who like i said once before, would've brought great ferocity to the part & his Year would've been all the stronger, had it been so.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Poor Matthew Goode. I usually like him, but he was so miscast as Veidt that it was just sad. I think even worse than him was Carla Gugino's AWFUL old women impression.

But yeah, Haley and Morgan were fucking brilliant.

Matt Mustin said...

He's amazing here. Are you a fan of the Graphic Novel, Louis? (and if you haven't read, you need to)

Louis Morgan said...

Matt: Yes I've read it, and yes it's great.

RatedRStar said...

I would like to read the novel sometime lol, is Ozymandias much more 3 dimensional in the novel I imagine?

Anonymous said...

Ozymandias was a great character in the graphic novel. My ideal cast would've been:

Rorscach, Nite Owl, Comedian as they are.

Ben Whishaw as Ozymandias.

Jon Hamm as Dr Manhattan

Emilia Clarke as Silk Spectre

RatedRStar said...

I think Ben Whishaw is awesome in anything =D.

luke higham said...

He was great in The Hollow Crown, if anyone's seen it.

RatedRStar said...

I cheered when he won the Bafta =D he looked so shy lol.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Jude Law was originally going to be cast as Ozymandias.

John Smith said...

LouĂ­s, ratings and thoughts on Robert De Niro in Jackie Brown.

luke higham said...

Louis: When's Morgan's review up.

Louis Morgan said...

Honestly I don't think Snyder really understood Ozymandias all that well as he gave him that stupid Joel Schumacher style costume and often seemed to just strive to make him a standard villain when he was suppose to be far more than that. I have to say also that Snyder's films seem to suggest that its entirely up to the actors to give a good performance as his films always lack much of a direction in terms of the performances as they often are wildly inconsistent.

John Smith:

De Niro - 3(He's awake unlike many of his later performances and meets the demands of the part, but I found not especially memorable)