I just saw Watchmen (twice) and liked the movie, though it wasn’t perfect.
Much of what I loved about the graphic novel was preserved, even with the changes. The heroes-as-flawed-people, lots of thematic points, etc.
Some of the characters are actually better in the film than they are in the graphic novel, which surprised me. Nite Owl II, Silk Spectre II, Rorschach…all great. The character-expansions for the Comedian, Dr. Manhattan, Rorschach, et al were just exceedingly well done.
Visually, the movie was gorgeous. And the music, to my surprise, added tremendously. It felt appropriate to the medium.
Halfway to three-fourths of the way through the movie I was giddy: “This can’t be this good…” The last quarter of the movie and the ending, which were weaker and rushed, brought me down some.
If you haven’t read the original, you should. The Watchmen graphic novel is brilliant like nothing else: Unlike most fiction, the world moves in a disturbingly real way, sometimes driven by emotional reactions, sometimes by chance. It’s subversive to its own genre and challenging (like deeper vs shallower music). It’s a fascinating “alt US history” due to one major imagined change: The development of a superhero during the Manhattan project that leads to US dominance, Nixon escaping his shame and defeat, victory in Viet Nam, and less humility for the US government. It’s a comic focused on the interpersonal conflict between (and within) characters. The book can be read as an argument against cowboy-mentality and unshakable faith in heroes, giving it a lot of theme to chew over. It handles sex and relationship doubt better than most (non-graphic) novels. The elements of the story and the artwork itself are massively over-connected and sort of internally hyperlinked in a way that requires multiple readings. The characters are much more complex than those in most comics (and even in most novels). Watchmen contains a story-inside-the-story that people are affected by years later and still discuss.
It’s just great and deserves to be read several times.
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It’s funny, that story-inside-the-story never really worked for me in the comic. Apart from the ‘brutality of man’ aspects and the panel to panel linkage, I don’t see what it added to the story at all.