Link's Update - 03/06/2009 - Who Watches the Watcchmen? I do!
Just got back from seeing Watchmen in IMAX.
So, what to say about it?
Firstly, I am a fan of the original graphic novel, and have also enjoyed the latest re-telling through Warner's Motion Comic series. With that out of the way, I can say that enjoyment of the film may have to have a prerequisite of at least experiencing one or the other.
Having read the source material, this film is very faithful to it, with slight "Let's make it easier 'Hollywood' style" adaptions or artistic liberties taken. It gets the feel and mood right, the characters are real and in their own way believable, and the core at least of the story is told almost completely.
I do believe that fans of the graphic novel will be disappointed with some of the things left out though. Particularly the part that the newsstand merchant and the story that is told while the young boy reads through the comic tale "Tales from the Black Freighter". I believe that although extending an already long movie, just a hint of this would have more impact on the viewer when later on things get crazy in New York City.
I also am a little surprised that a key plot point was revealed so early. I won't get into spoilers, but those who have seen it already should know what I'm talking about when I say that moving fingers on a picture, and even the slightest glance between characters can mean a great deal to an experienced viewer.
The only other thing that bothered me was some of the soundtrack choices may not have been the best, and the caricature of President Nixon was almost downright comical. That nose was quite distracting!
But movie goers should not go to see this film for the flash lights and sounds, (although the lighting and SFX were quite something to behold) they should be seeing it for the story. This film when seen will have an impact on you if you let it. Threaded throughout is an amazing tale of democratic ideology vs. socialism. It is sewn to the very core of the whole film and comes across very well. Some pretty good timing, I might add considering the world's current climate and potential heading.
As for the change that was made at the end of the film, (again, as spoiler-free as possible) I believe that a bit more care could have been taken to make it a bit clearer. There is a definite contradictory remark made that doesn't make much sense, (It's in reference to Dr. Manhattan and watching over people) and I feel that here they were trying to be so careful to be faithful, they forgot about the change they made to the plot.
The acting and overall direction shine here. While some might say that The Comedian and Rorschach steal the show, all of the characters here are very well acted and movie goers can take emotional stake in almost all of them. (Sorry Dr. Manhattan, although it was on purpose, I couldn't get behind your character. You too Ozzy.)
So, if I was to lay a final judgement on this film, what would it be?
It would be that experienced with the original material or not, this is a film that is worth seeing, and should be possibly seen multiple times. If not, then see the film and pick up the graphic novel or motion comic series on DVD or Blu Ray. It's good stuff.