|Blockbuster had a bunch of inventory on close-out, so I bought the movie and watched it again... twice...|
Plot, theme, (plot-theme) and characterization were all identifiable and integrated. One of a handful of self-made superheroes who take responsibility for making extra-legal justice discovers a plot against them when one of their number is murdered. He rallies the remaining members to track the killer who is actually one of their own. The theme is Justice the plot is The Pursuit of the Killer of the Comedian. The plot-theme is Justice Following its Trajectory to its Ultimate Target.
Subsidiary plots play out within the wider drama. A love triangle hinges on the complexity of one of the heroes, Dr. Manhattan, who lives a quantum-relativistic perception and who is, therefore, completely alienation from humanity at the metaphysical level. His realization that each person is unique and therefore important brings him to the conflict at a critical moment. The irony that he is blamed for the "nuclear" destruction is ultimately irrelevant to him: humanity does not touch him because he lives completely in a different frame of reference. Dr. Manhattan is easily contrasted with the protagonist "Rorschach." Unlike the government physicist who is accidentally endowed with super powers, Rorschach is a self-made man from the lowest of socio-economic strata. Whereas Dr. Manhattan's alienation from humanity distances him from it, Rorschach's horror at the depths of human depravity draw him to the pursuit of justice.
The love affair between Silk Spectre and Night Owl depends on their search for identity. The superheroes were outlawed and forced into retirement. Now, back in action to find the murderer of The Comedian, they must reconnect their lost past to their present. Night Owl-2 has been a regular drinking buddy of Night Owl-1, the hero of a previous generation. All they have is the older cop's memories. When Night Owl-2 and Silk Specter (also a 2, asher mother was Silk Specter 1), first have dinner, their conversation is a reminiscence. After dinner, caught in an alley by punks, they find their inner selves in close quarter combat. But that is incomplete, as back at Night Owl's apartment, they cannot consumate their passion -- he cannot. His internal conflict prevents an integration of personality necessary to enjoy sex as a triumph. Later, after rescuing people trapped in a fire, again working as a team, they are able to give physical expression to their shared admiration, thus underscoring the reintegration of their personalities.
The final scenes complete the search for justice. Although Ozymandias believes that he has pulled off this necessary horror to save humanity from itself, Rorschach's Journal has been delivered to a conspiracy magazine, THEN NEW FRONTIERSMAN. Thus, despite Rorschach's death at the hands of Dr. Manhattan to preserve the duplicity of Ozymandias, the truth is waiting to be revealed.
The use of rock 'n' roll music was at first compelling in its integration: The Times They Are A-Changin' at once shows the rollout of history, but also, from our point of view, rolls out this alternate history in which Dr. Manhattan won the war in Vietnam, The Comedian killed President Kennedy, and Nixon was granted a third term. So, too, did many of the other tracks provide depth of understanding. Unfortunately, this was uneven and at two places apparently gratuituous: "Sounds of Silence" for the funeral of The Comedian and Leonard Cohen's "Halleluiah" for the love-making between Night Owl and Silk Specter.