Perhaps you’ve heard of this highly hyped Watchmen movie that opens today. Perhaps you were one of the fortunate masses, who stood in line for hours, only to wide up sitting next to that big sweaty smelly guy, who ended up dripping nacho cheese on your arm, but on the plus side offered you some of his Junior Mints, but you got to see the film before anyone else (although that other big sweaty smelly guy in front of you was blocking half the screen). Perhaps you were the big sweaty smelly guy who was annoyed by that person sitting behind you, who constantly complained about the smell, and the nacho cheese sauce that has ruined his cardigan.  Or perhaps you were the nacho cheese, and the only thing going through your head was, “Oh no, not again.”  In any case, here’s your chance to talk about the film; what worked, what didn’t, and why you are (or aren’t) going to see it again.  Oh, and feel free to be all spoilery, ’cause if you haven’t figured it out yet, that’s the name of the site Russell.

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. Graciela
    March 6, 2009 at 3:50 pm — Reply

    Ok, if we’re being spoilery then allow me to point to some SPOILERS that just didn’t fit and left my first viewing mixed.

    First off, I knew this wasn’t going to be the bible version of the comic but when Snyder reassured us that Watchmen would be faithful to the source, I mistakenly understood that to mean that he was going to be faithful to what Watchmen IS. Instead, he’s faithful to the panels but not the subtext, meaning, or any of the great themes that make Watchmen beautiful.

    I understand that in the age of post Saw, you can’t have Rorschach giving the kidnapper a saw after cuffing him and setting his house on fire. But what happens was so out of character to me and it was cheap by all stretches of the imagination. Rorschach grabs a cleaver and hacks the guy on the head not once but several times. To me, Rorschach seemed to be in control most of the time in the comic. He drew out his own brand of punishment that did include killing, but that was just a means to an end. He might be a criminal by law, but he is not a scummy criminal and so I just didn’t buy that he’d huff and puff like any other low life would and hack a guy up. He was reduced to the crazy cool guy with a neat mask. All the complexities are dumbed down about the character and I can only hope the director’s cut does him better service.

    The ending was a little too cheery for me. Sally crying and kissing Blake’s picture is gone. And while this may not be a big deal to some, I found it was a chance to expand on Sally and Eddie’s relationship that would offer it some sort of redeeming qualities as it does in the comic. We understood how crazy and messed up and very human that situation was. But in the movie, Blake is villainized and there’s nothing likable about the guy because all the tender moments about the character, are not in the movie. So instead, it ends with a, hey mom I know The Comedian is my dad and I still love you. Smile! Go to the New Frontiersman scene, though we haven’t seen this place, for all I know this could be Kinkos Rorschach sent his journal to. Didn’t have the same effect as the comic.

    All in all, I just felt like Snyder missed the whole point of the comic and he reduced it to it’s most superficial level; a kick ass good time with extreme characters. But that is not what Watchmen is about. And while I never expected it to be a panel for panel translation, I did expect Snyder to maintain the subtext to show the world that this comic is literature, that this film is not a superhero romp, and that this is a drama that happens to have superheroes in it. My mistake. Totally my mistake. So I do plan on seeing it again but this time, I will see it on its own terms. As a movie that is overtly violent with these people who are not human in the least and everyone kicks ass and saves the world. Because, you know, no one calls Adrian on the fact that nothing ever ends.

    And the rant aside, it’s mostly the second half that will lose most general viewers and those that wanted more of Watchmen and less of Snyder. But I will give the film credit for chapters 1-5. Especially chapter 4. Billy Crudup is perfect in Watchmaker and I ended up liking Dr. Manhattan more because of Crudup’s great performance. I’m sorry, I can imagine what this comment sounds like but now that I know what it is, I think I can enjoy my second viewing.

  2. March 6, 2009 at 3:57 pm — Reply

    I left the theatre with mixed feelings, but overall I think I liked the movie.

    Weak parts, however, were the choice of music in some parts (99 Luftballons and Hallelujah) and the Silk Spectre family drama. Call me shallow, but the fight between Ozy, RR and Nite Owl was one of the highlights for me.

  3. Randallw
    March 6, 2009 at 7:24 pm — Reply

    I was confused about the changes to Rorschach and the kidnapper. I’ve never watched Saw so I didn’t make the comparison. What you say makes sense but it’s unfortuante they messed with the plot just because it was similar to some other movie. I don’t know how much else they messed with just because in the last 20 years someone might have used similar ideas.

    Also they increased the fight between Rorschach/Night Owl and Ozymandias. Yes in the novel they fight but it’s just to show that Ozymandias is near perfect. This time they seemed to just think people expect big fight scenes, so they made it bigger.

  4. Melanie1001
    March 6, 2009 at 9:43 pm — Reply

    I loved it – it was the best Watchmen you can put into a 3 hour time slot – if you had a 20 hour miniseries you could do more, but 3 hour movie – yah – they got it, most things were there….as a long time fan of the novel, it made me happy and goosepimply to watch so much of it coming to life like that. Cant wait to buy the director’s cut

  5. davek
    March 7, 2009 at 12:20 am — Reply

    I liked it, but I certainly didn’t think it was perfect. Strangely, I think the mentioned point about the change about the kidnapper improved the scene for me because it demonstrated Rorschach having a mental break. Yes, he’s absolutely out of control but that was the point – Rorschach was making a mental snap that he would not be returning from. I also liked the fights because they demonstrated that these people were highly-skilled, well-experienced practitioners of violence. In my mind, that’s what they would be.

    It did have flaws, but I’m still not sure if it’s because of the movie itself or the fact that it held up the original story to the light and showed it wasn’t perfect either. My wife who is not familiar with the comic (as non-comic as you can get, really), didn’t like the movie because she couldn’t find a character she could identify with. When I told her the original ending, she stared at me for a moment and then said, “Okay, I’m glad they changed that. That would’ve been ridiculous.”

    So good, but not great. Probably a B-, and that might go up with an added viewing. I’m glad they did it all the same, it could’ve been far worse and was done with enough respect to be a worthwhile attempt. I’m glad I got to see what I imagined twenty years ago and at no point was it embarassing.

  6. davek
    March 7, 2009 at 12:44 am — Reply

    Actually let me add to that for a second. I’ve read a lot of reviews that are criticizing the movie for not being anything less than a near-perfect effort which is a little unfair. If this was any other source material, a “B” rating would be considered a pretty good return. Like I said, I don’t think it’s perfect but it was definitely worthwhile entertainment, I enjoyed what I saw and thought it got pretty close. It’s not a popcorn movie, anymore than Taxi Driver is a popcorn movie. The material itself can’t allow it. Snyder allowed a lot of the harder questions of the source material to come through which is ambitious. Again, I think I need to see it again.

  7. March 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm — Reply

    How changed is the movie? I didn’t like the comic much so I’m holding out until I know if the parts I disliked are gone or not. The whole bad will towards women thing for one…

  8. JMF
    March 7, 2009 at 4:10 pm — Reply

    I enjoyed the Film. I love the book but i like the film. Lets be honest, Every Fan was going to find something to dislike about the Film. I had several things i didnt like:

    Rorsarchs Back story was severly cut down, as was several others but i thought Rorsarchs was missed more than others.

    Hollis Mason was missing for too much of the film, It missed the point of having generations of heroes.

    The Sex Scene was pointless and too long it actually made me uncomfortable. Im no prude by any means of the imagination but it was grating on me because it was overwrought.

    Ozy was not played as scarily smart in the film.

    But saying that i said to my Lady as we entering if i come out of this film without saying it was like elektra ill be happy and so when i left saying, “that was a good Film” I was more than happy.

  9. Crash
    March 8, 2009 at 12:39 am — Reply

    Overall a wonderful movie. I was extremely surprised that my expectations were not only met for the movie but exceeded.

    I was disappointed that they cut out all of the Veidt advertisements including the constant Nostalgia ads that ran but it was to be expected when you only have a 2 1/2 hour movie.

    I also noticed an overabundance in gore that was not necessary (i.e. the knife in the kidnappers head, exploded bodies all over people in bar, slicing off arms of man tied to prison bars). Most of these scenes could have simply stayed the way they were in the comic or could have simply cut to the people affected being sprayed with blood.

    The fight scenes were well done and not to over the top. My only complaint was how long the opening fight scene was between Ozy and the Comedian.

    Overall though I’d give the movie a firm 5 stars.

  10. Brettals
    March 8, 2009 at 3:59 am — Reply

    man got to an early 9:00am session,7 people including me,sat there for the duration,didn’t eat,didn’t drink,didn’t go to the tiolet and walked out wanting to turn myself around and purchse another ticket all over again.loved it

  11. March 8, 2009 at 6:26 am — Reply

    I also had a little discussion about the violence in the film. I had the impression that they dwelled a bit longer on the violent scenes than the comic did. But that may be subjective, since (most of) the panels were in the comic too, and if you have only one violent panel in a comic, you can stare at it as long as you like.

    Well, or maybe I’m just a wimp. ;)

  12. March 8, 2009 at 4:40 pm — Reply

    I enjoyed Watchmen for what it was, a good adaptation of the extremely dense source material. Did it have it’s faults? Sure it did, but what movie doesn’t? I’ve grown weary of the fanboys incessant cry for Snyder’s head because he didn’t have the Squid in the end.

    Still don’t know if it was better than Iron Man though …

  13. catdad6
    March 8, 2009 at 8:37 pm — Reply

    As a fan of Watchmen and a comic reader since 1963 I really liked this. My wife, who has read it but is not a huge comic fan liked it as well. I didn’t expect a blow for blow for the comic. I really don’t see how they could do that.

    We both liked the opening montage in place of all the “under the hood” excerpts. I think that’s pretty much all you could do with a 3 hour movie.

    I wasn’t all that happy with the changes in the kidnapper scenes either because I missed a lot of the story with Dr. Long which I enjoyed when I read it. Then again the old “hack off your hand to get away” has been done to death way back since Mad Max. The jail scene was pretty close. Dr Manhattan’s story was very well done.

    Hollis’ murder and the some of the other things going on, while adding depth, were probably left out for time and I don’t feel that over all the movie suffered for it.

    I was glad of the violence and sex because it probably got the R rating, which IMHO made this a much better film than if it had gotten PG 13 like most comic book movies.

    I don’t really feel that the Eddie was over villianized either. After all, in the book, its implied he probably killed Hooded Justice. He wasn’t really a good man, and to me, any feelings Sally may have had for him don’t make up for that. They only affect her.

    Personally I think the actual themes were there. After all, in 1985 there was a cold war. I would bet that a lot of people in the theater that I was in don’t even remember Nixon, Kent state, Vietnam, or maybe even the cold war and invasion of Afghanistan or a lot of other things that Watchmen had something to say about back then. To me, 3 terms of Nixon is scary for example.

    Well enough rambling. Bottom line:
    Accessible to non-comic fans .
    A good adaptation of a very long story with lots of layers.
    I’ll see it again and maybe buy it.
    And yes there is no squid but outer limits did that before anyway (Merchants of Fear).

  14. March 8, 2009 at 9:38 pm — Reply

    I liked it. I liked the ending. A lot. It made perfect sense for the movie, and streamlined the story for a bearable run time. I thought Dan Dreiberg’s characterization was excellent, the highlight of the movie. I also really enjoyed the ‘Outer Limits’ shout out at the end. I think I was only person in the theater to laugh at that moment. My full review:

  15. catdad6
    March 9, 2009 at 7:44 am — Reply

    I’d actually forgotten that the outer limits was in the comic as well. I heard today that Alan Moore hadn’t seen that episode but found out about it later.

  16. Brent
    March 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm — Reply

    The McCarthy-ish mood due to the Keane act was not emphasized enough (though the viral marketing campaign explained it well). I don’t know if someone who hasn’t read the novel understands the progression towards the 2nd generation of heroes being hated to the point of a riot. The opening montage (one of the best EVER) showed the personal pathologies of the first generation, but I wished they explained how the culture turned on the second generation.

    Malin Ackerman (Silk Specter 2) has a BIG HEAD. Nice body, decent actress, mouth watering latex thigh high boots, yadda yadda yadda. She’s gotta melon head is all I’m sayin’.

    The wire work was over the top. Those unfamiliar with the story assumed that the Watchmen, especially Ozzy, have super strength. I heard people leaving the theatre asking when and how everyone other than Dr. Manhattan got their powers. Ozzy should have beat brawlers like SS2 and Nite Owl with efficient physical grace, not Matrix-like brawn. The his physical perfection was just right for his fight with the Comedian, but the kick where he sent SS2 flying was too much. Deflecting Nite Owl’s laser with a flick of the wrist using a silver dish would have exemplified Ozzy’s “peak of human perfection” skill set much better than throwing a chair.

    I’ll be the first to immaturely mention the big blue Twig and Berries. I’m secure enough to admit that a) I peeked (how could I not? It was on an Imax screen) and b) maybe it was the screen size coupled with my unfamiliarity with Kibbles and Bits other than my own…but I couldn’t help but wonder if Dr. M is supposed to be, uh, super in every way. Not feeling inadequate or anything, but…y’know…that was an eyeful.

    All that said…Snyder and company did a good job on translating the impossible to screen. The screenwriters and editor did an admirable job of trimming it as well as they did. I am still not convinced that a Watchman movie SHOULD have been made, but I do think Snyder’s vision was the best it COULD have been made given such a difficult, challenging source material. Good call on nixing the squid.

    I am now convinced “The Dark Knight Returns” should never be attempted on screen.

  17. Armin
    March 9, 2009 at 5:46 pm — Reply

    Saw this at an international cinema in Vienna, which is the only chance to watch this with the original audio track instead of a german dub. And that’s important to know, since these theaters are not quite on par when it comes to screen size and audio system compared to the multiplexes with digital projection and 8 channel surround sound at a 110dBs. Feels like these cinemas are still stuck in the mid-90ties. And yet I have to say, even on a smaller silver screen it FELT really big, it was quite an experience to me and my girlfriend (who never read the book, obviously). I think that says something about the film.

    Now, it seems as if critics either really like it (like Ebert for instance who almost always seems to be a reliable critic for my taste) or they seem to dislike it, and there are little to no “it was pretty decent” like reviews, and I think the reason why is because the expectations were so high. The dark side of “viral marketing” apparently.

    To me one thing’s for sure, the way the movie was done, the way Snyder directed it visually faithful to the panels is the only way this could have been done. If this turns out to be not quite as successful as WB might have hoped, Synder won’t be the one to blame because I’m sure that if they’d done it any other way the movie certainly would have been a complete and utter failure. The only thing I think was little off direction-wise would be the balance between “real” reality and the heightened comic-book reality, if that makes sense. However, when I say “a little off” I do mean a little, the movie is really great the way it is.

    I’m still not sure about the actresses, I think the guys did a great job, but Malin Ackerman… I don’t know,… feels like she did an okay job, but I can’t help it, I think there might have been an actress out there better suited for the job.

  18. March 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm — Reply

    You know, some of my friends actually asked as well where the people got their superpowers from. I told them that they just trained really hard ;) I don’t know if they were content with that answer.

    • March 9, 2009 at 9:31 pm — Reply

      I got my superpowers from booze, pork rinds, and orange monster eaten in a car with a transmission fluid leak.

  19. davek
    March 9, 2009 at 10:00 pm — Reply

    Oh that old chestnut.

  20. The Enigma
    March 9, 2009 at 10:34 pm — Reply

    It was decent, and I was pretty satisfied. The only REAL and legitimate qualm I had with the movie was the way that the superheroes looked to be superhumanly strong.

  21. March 10, 2009 at 9:15 pm — Reply

    you don’t get superpowers from eating chestnuts…that being said, I haven’t looked at Watchmen in print since we collected the comics back in the olden days. I loved the movie.

    i’ve been sucked back in to this fantasy world…break out the gin and rutabagas….

    Roger E gave the movie two thumbs up…and I trust Roger. he’s the geek’s geek.

  22. BlueNight
    March 11, 2009 at 8:26 pm — Reply

    I am a lifelong comics fan. I own the complete runs of Deadpool, Cerebus, Barry Ween, Akira, and Bone, as well as thousands of single issues and trades of Marvel, DC, and independents. Yet I have never read Watchmen.

    So, coming into this story universe fresh and unspoiled, I have a different perspective. I enjoyed the film, because it told me a complete story. Too many scenes and not enough Bubastis for my tastes, but certainly an experience worth repeating, at least twice more before it hits the dollar theaters.

    Visually, it was almost perfect. The fight scenes were not the best choreographed I’ve ever seen, but they were the best filmed. I can still see the brute’s eyes widen as a bone snaps out of his arm, and blood spurts freely. The visual contrast between Nite-Owl and Dan was the point that, for me, sold the film. Here’s a guy that looks and acts like a Woody Allen nebbish, but only out of costume. Ozy’s fight scenes were simply incredible, a visual treat.

    Each character effectively got an origin story flashback except Nite-Owl and Ozymandias; I liked that, but it felt like a bit too much. However, now I’m glad they did it; that lack made it clear they were the main characters in Zack Snyder’s adaption.

    It perfectly captured the feeling of the end of one era, and the start of another. It also perfectly humanized the heroic, and brought a pantheon down to earth.

  23. March 15, 2009 at 6:09 pm — Reply

    Whoever called the adaptation as faithful need to check their collection back. It is not faithful. There are lot of changes and innovation. Some of them are hit ( I like the opening credit) and some of them are miss (Roscharch chopped the murder’s head were too exaggerated and distracting).

    The idea of changing the end is basically a good idea but the execution is bad because we didn’t care about the thousands victim in movie version. The graphic novel version gave us how close Roscharch with the news stand owner, how the psychiatrist got problem since his mind became pessimistic due to his interview with Roscharch and those why we care about the thousand lives. Gibbons and Moore also gave us more than three pages of the casualty of Veidt’s act and yet, in the movie version, it only last for a few second.

    Slow-motion didn’t work unless in the opening credit and Dr. Manhattan’s flashback.

    And the way Snyder gave everybody beside Dr. Manhattan superpowers? OMG.. he did the same mistake with “300”.

    I would give the move B- since I fans of the original novel.
    If I am not fans of the original novel, I will gave this Snyder’s movie as C-.

    I will not buy the DVD even if it had director’s cut. I hate Zack Snyder..
    If “Watchmen in Motion comic” is recast where the female character is voiced by female (so it will not sound like shemale as it is now), I will choose to buy it. It is worthy than worthless Snyder’s version.

  24. Armin
    March 16, 2009 at 11:38 am — Reply

    Don’t worry, once the Directors Cut DVDs become available with all the additional footage you’ll eventually see “Fanedits” of the Motion Comic with audio from the movie, I’m sure of it. It’s the most OBVIOUS choice one can think of, and those guys who’ve been bitten by the editing-bug are chopping up every movie these days, whether they need it or not. Check and see for yourself.

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