I went in to the Watchmen film with incredibly low expectations — and was very pleasantly surprised. My initial response to it was amazement at its faithfulness to the source, which was word-for-word in many parts — though of course the film left out some important parts, and radically changed the ending. That was a first. After all the previous fan-boy complaints about superhero films that made wholesale changes for the sake of “movie audiences,” this time there was nothing for the über-geeks to complain about!
Watchmen is definitely not a standard three-act structure film, and it breaks all sorts of film “rules.” It’s almost like an experimental film, and some of the things director Zack Snyder tried worked and some didn’t. I agree with many reviewers that the result is a rather embalmed or vacuum-packed experience. But overall the film gets the aura of the book exactly right: the campy/kinky pseudo-porno quality of the heroes and their costumes, and the pervasive the Cold War nihilism.
What it is sorely missing, unfortunately, is the regular human “bean” connection evoked by the news-vendor, his customers, and the comics-reading kid. But I hear all that will be back in the five-hour director’s cut!