Before anyone sees this film, Zach Snyder should be given a pat on the back. He did what a dozen directors struggled to do for twenty years: he made a Watchmen movie. It seems unthinkable that anyone could properly put the greatest graphic novel of all time on the screen. But Snyder has done pretty much that.
While it is not Alan Moore's Watchmen, it is the closest thing that anyone else could have put on the screen. Snyder approached the material with enough reverence that fans of the comic will appreciate the film. As Snyder has openly declared, the final act does include significant changes, but the alterations that take place fit better on the big screen than the original ending would have. It works because it cuts down on a lot of the necessary back story which Snyder could not include.
Even though many pages of the book were not included, Snyder did take the time to try and preserve other information by including short "historical" sequences in the fantastic opening title sequence. By this point, viewers will also have had a chance to appreciate the stellar, and time appropriate, soundtrack. Unlike the hard rock recordings the Snyder chose for the background of 300, Watchmen's background fits the tone and mood of most of the scenes. The only questionable choice was the selection of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," not because of the recording, but rather its awkward placement. Some may also question Snyder's inclusion of gore not present in the book. While the comic does include it's share of violence, Snyder did overtly change several scenes to be more violent. These changes, while flashy on film, may disturb squeamish moviegoers. However, changes aside, Snyder has captured the essence of the book and packaged it in a beautiful 2 hour and 40 minute delight. Overall, it is a satisfying film experience for someone familiar with the source material.
But this might be a different experience for anyone who does not know the book. There is a lot to digest, and the overwhelming visuals may distract some moviegoers from the bigger picture. The interaction of these unique characters remains an integral point to understanding this film, and when the book was pared down for the movie, the relationships of the masked adventures became a bit more forced. The best part of the comic was the glimpse of what is "beneath the hood," and we have less of that in Snyder's adaptation. Additionally, the ending, while simplified, is still a bit convoluted.
Fans and those previously unfamiliar with Watchmen should go in with an open mind. Snyder has performed what Doctor Manhattan might deem a miracle, so it may take more than one viewing to truly appreciate this unique adaptation.