This is an admirable, ambitious attempt to adapt what is, for many people, The Greatest Comic of All Time. (I know others prefer some other comics, but I know that this was the first comic given serious treatment as literature by non-comic book fans.) I was mostly impressed by the attempts at fidelity and the attempts at balancing the film medium with a story that is perhaps just a little too complex for a feature.
Two major things that I think didn’t work well enough:
- First, is Snyder himself. Unsurprisingly, he tries to make some scenes resemble the actual panels in the comic – he apparently story-boarded it from the comic – and while that would admirable if he had committed to it entirely, he didn’t. I say either go full Sin City or make a conventional movie. One or the other. Don’t try to hybrid it. Snyder’s style also doesn’t really suit the material. I think a better director might have made this closer to a classic. But…
- Second, frankly I think a proper adaptation of Watchmen in this day and age might have been on TV. There’s just too much. An 8- or 10-episode miniseries for a prestige channel such as HBO would have been far easier for the average viewer (who hasn’t read it) to digest and wouldn’t have had to omit so much from the story. Apparently there’s a longer cut available, but I’d rather see a more complete film that I didn’t have to buy a special DVD to see.
(One positive: I think the change of the ending is perhaps well-suited to the film.)
But all this being said, I kind of have to say that this is pretty successful as these things go, and I think it is the material itself that prevented it from being a hit (which is really too bad). People just don’t like difficult stuff. It’s incredible to me that everyone would rather watch The Avengers than something like this, but that’s how it’s always going to be.