Watchmen - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Watchmen Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 6, 2008
I had never read the graphic novel till about a year and half ago. I had really missed out on something awesome. Now for the movie it was not disappointing in any way to me. The changes being only a one time reader of the graphic novel I didnt notice too much. There were many parts though from the novel that jumped right out at me and that was impressive. I thought as a whole it was a very well done and solid movie. Darker than most superhero flicks, as the comic was darker and changed the way comics were forever.
Super Reviewer
½ January 15, 2008
One of my favorite superhero films. Dr. Manhattan was awesome! Ozymandias is a genius but sort of mystery to me. Rorschach sees the world a little too black and white for my taste but I gotta love his tenacity. Of course, Silk Spectre and Night Owl are my favorites.
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2014
It;s not fair for me to stick a rating on this as I am totally a non animanted, movie watcher, but for the 56 minutes I did watcg I'd have to give it 1 Star. 11-21-13
Super Reviewer
½ January 22, 2013
Watching Watchmen is a plastic and sterile experience. Disappointing and surprising, since I'm a big fan of the Allan Moore comic (he took his name off the film, but then he never wanted a film in the first place.)

Even though the digitial whiz yet story-challenged Zack Snyder is very true to the source story and the visuals (the comic is more or less a faithful storyboard for the film), that may be exactly what's wrong with this thing. The whole thing feels airless and dry and also suffers from some weak casting in at least two key roles.

Watchmen is a dystopian take on post cold war America, one in which self appointed superheroes have captured the public's imagination after WWII (Minutemen), then been banned, then a resurgance in the sixties with a new group (The Watchmen), who lose the favour of the authorities and are banned once again. The U.S. has won the Vietnam war and is lording over the Soviets in the cold war (thanks to the iconic character Dr. Manhattan, a godlike victim of a radiation overdose) . As Richard Nixon is on to his fourth term, the story is a meditation on the American dream, the disillusionment of the sixties, the role of vigilantes and super heroes and how they are coopted by the powers that be, and many many other complicated themes and story points, All of them are crammed into the film and as a result, we have very superficial character development and perfunctory and cold action scenes.

I'm more and more convinced that good film versions of complex literature, even comics in this case, require the filmmaker to select one or two simple ideas and explore them rather than trying to capture every philosophical theme and minute plot point. This problem was almost identical in Moore's V for Vendetta adaptation. I know there's also a fear of the geeky fans not approving, especially with a property with armies of nerdy fans, who for some reason have the power to scuttle a film franchise.

On the plus side of performances, Jackie Earle Haley is an excellent Rorschak, an obsessive and weasly (and mostly masked) performance, Jeffery Dean Morgan is a macho and charismatic Comedian, it's a shame he doesn't get more screen time, and even with all the CG, Billy Crudup (and his digital doppelganger as Dr. Manhattan) are mezmerizing to watch. Carla Gugino, excellent in everything, ages four decades here and is wonderful as ex-superhero and mother of the Silk Spectre. Patrick Wilson does fine as the nerdy geek Night Owl.

On the down side, Malin Ackerman is incredibly wooden as the Silk Spectre (Dr. Manhattan's love interest) a shame, because I usually enjoy her in comedies and she's beautiful, Matthew Goode falls completely flat as super genius and ambiguous hero Ozymandius, which brings the film down because his role is pivotal.

Also on the down side is the too obvious on the nose choice of musical tracks from the era, Dylan's "Times They are A-changing' for the protest sixties stuff and Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' for a bad sex scene with Night Owl and Silk Specter in a rocket ship.

All that said, the film is almost three hours long but goes by quite quickly due to fun visuals, some very memorable lines, all lifted right out of Moore's orignal book, and lots of cheesy fun here and there. Okay for a rainy Sunday for something that's cool enough to watch with teens.
Super Reviewer
½ March 22, 2008
Based on the Alan Moore graphic novel, Watchmen is set in an alternate reality where costumed "heroes" were created as state-sanctioned vigilantes to fight the mob and who helped the US win the Vietnam war and get tricky Dicky elected for 5 successive terms as president. Another superhero movie with a difference it sticks firmly to the moral grey areas, showing these "heroes" as human and fallible; who is the more heroic, a violent sociopath obsessed with punishment through vengeance or an emotionally detached self-appointed guardian willing to sacrifice millions of lives for "the greater good"...? The core of the film is provided by charismatic anti-hero Rorschach's Noir style investigation into the murder of fascistic black ops hero The Comedian, set to the backdrop of a skewed history and political situation which all makes for very interesting viewing and tinges the usual big budget spectacle with a nicely grimy undercurrent. Snyder is hardly the most insightful of directors but his stylized visuals work perfectly here thanks to the wealth of intelligent ideas and interesting characters supplied by a source material that is very visual in essence. Definitely up with the best of the modern style hero movies, Watchmen is intelligent, dark and although I wouldn't describe it as "exciting", it's perfectly paced over its 2 and a half hour length. Considered by most to be unfilmable, Snyder has managed to pull off a bit of a coup with this one and created a superhero film that ranks amongst the best.
Super Reviewer
July 27, 2012
Visually dark and graphic as the novel it's adapted from. Snyder envisioning sensation may not be satisfying to those who have to little to no knowledge of Alan Moore's graphic novel. But it does make up with the stunning visual effects and complex landscape of the 1960s. 4/5
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2010
As a voracious reader and a fan of the source material which was Watchmen, the greatest comic book (and I do mean comic book, not graphic novel) to gain critical and commercial success, I was rearing to go on this adaptation. I had already heard a bleak prognosis for this film, but I still wasn't disappointed in too many ways. Zack Snyder, who is really most famous for visually compromised films such as 300 and Sucker Punch, took on Watchmen with a lot more care than I can give credit for. He didn't write the script, but you can tell he had a vital hand in the production, costuming, and the direction reaks of him. If I had to say Watchmen suffers from anything it is its faithless keeping with the novel. Every backstory of the heroes, every moment of the plot that actually needs telling, was included in this. It's nothing but a faithless adaptation in so many ways and really makes the characters pop onscreen. What's bad about being faithless, is that it takes almost an hour and a half to fit every backstory into the film and still you have an entire evil scheme to unearth along the way. Not just that but the decidedly gritty and morose tone of the book seems lost among the superhero bullshit that inevitably comes with big budget films. The violence in Watchmen wasn't there to entertain the reader, but show the state of human nature and the evils of society. Here it's almost glorified ad nauseum, especially that of Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II. Plus, the ending is completely changed, probably to satiate a wide audience, and some key scenes are warped, which I don't truly care about but it makes no sense to change them. The casting was decent, especially that of Rorschach, The Comedian, and Dan Dreiberg. Some choices annoyed or even irritated me, but every person chosen was great as their alter ego and didn't take away anything...well, maybe the sex scene did as it was so intentionally graphic that I openly laughed at the absurdity. Really, it's more funny than anything, and probably that's not a positive in lieu of the circumstances. It was also unmercifully long and drawn out with the backstories taking up a good chunk of the film, which I understand because you need that buildup for the characters; to feel for them to the bitter end, but because they changed the ending and the true poignancy of a hero's sacrifice, it feels hollow. Much of this is hollow to some extent since some very important and eye grabbing visual choices of the book weren't included. The writer of the book, Alan Moore, has said that Watchmen is unfilmmable and won't watch the adaptation. I suppose I don't wholeheartedly agree with that, but if you're going to do Watchmen, you have to have more than just a moody visual milieu and intense violence. You must think about questioning your entire moral code, and what would happen if you lost it. I wish the film had addressed the actual message behind this instead of making it commercial. There was just too much compromise with this and not enough understanding, and that saddens me.
Super Reviewer
½ September 29, 2010
Gritty, smart script, and interesting plot, this movie may seem like a classic in the making, but there are incredibly problematic pacing issues. Everything that is praised about this movie is because of the original graphic novel; the movie was almost identical with the book, but with such a faithful adaptation comes pacing issues as well. The cinematography was breathtaking though.
Super Reviewer
½ January 30, 2012
A compelling, visceral, visually stunning film, Watchmen is a powerful experience unlike anything I've seen. There are other films that depict the end of humanity, and reveal its flaws, and power. But none have depicted it like this. The complex narrative, which I may not have fully understood on first viewing, and which may frustrate others, is fantastic at keeping the film from being a preaching anti-human movie. Not that it turns into that; no, in the end, it's message is unsettling for those who are really listening, and may linger on in our minds for a long while. The slowed-down action sequences are intoxicating, the soundscape and visual effects are astounding, and the soundtrack is awesome. The length of the film, and the acting (which wasn't bad, but could have been improved upon), are my only complaints.
Super Reviewer
November 27, 2011
Perfect adaptation to the grand-daddy of graphic novels.
(If you have'nt read the comics there's a good chance you may not like its movie version)
Super Reviewer
November 25, 2011
Man, this movie has more guts than a lot of the Hollywood blockbusters out there. It gives you absolutely no origin story whatsoever, and I have to give it credit for not treating the audience like idiots, although it might be a little confusing for those who have no read the comics. Other than that, It's great. The story is complex and interesting, the characters all have personality to them, and it has some truly awesome action sequences as well. A fun movie to watch. Check it out.
Super Reviewer
September 26, 2011
Dark and complex, there's a lot here that I loved. However, there was just too much going on for one movie, even with the ridiculously long runtime. Would have been a prime candidate for an Original+Origins movie franchise, but the result is just a so-so comic book movie with a few super-awkward sex scenes.
Super Reviewer
September 15, 2011
A truly great film, "Watchmen" is about a group of retired superheroes who investigate the death of their former teammate, and discover a shocking conspiracy. Watchmen is visually dazzling, powerfully written and acted, and one of the century's best films.
Super Reviewer
May 13, 2011
This review is going to make fans of the graphic novel mad. Very mad. Let me start by saying that I read the graphic novel well over 10 times prior to watching this, and I LOVED it. I loved it so much I read several other graphic novels since and restored my faith in comics. So, what do I think of the movie then? Most of the performances are spot on, in particular, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and James Earle Haley (that being said, the guy who plays Ozzymandias is TERRIBLE, which, without spoiling too much, is a HUGE problem). But, the big issue, what did I think of the ending (altered from the comic's ending)? I'm going to be honest, I almost like the movie's ending better than the comic. The comic's ending is cooler and is more visually spectacular, but the film's ending is interesting because it gives a larger moral dilemma than the comic. I recommend this film only to those who can stomach the following: Long runtime, graphic violence, and some graphic sexuality. If you can handle those, you're set for a great film experience.
Super Reviewer
½ August 24, 2011
Again a movie that my friends were itching to know what I thought of because of my immense (and some would say obsessive) love of the brand in general. I almost died when I saw Billy Crudup would be rocking it as Manhattan but I was genuinely disappointed with how this movie turned out. Boredom has never been an emotion I have linked with Watchmen on any level, even merchandise sends me spinning, but I was frankly bored throughout the entire movie and as with many comic come movies I felt that unless you knew about the characters, plot and story before hand you would have been left feeling very confused and wondering why the hell it has such a following. As a fan of Watchmen the franchise, let me assure you, the movie does not do the characters or their lives ANY justice whatsoever. Depressingly poor.
Movie Monster
Super Reviewer
½ August 23, 2011
Zack Snyder brings Alan Moore's groundbreaking graphic novel to life in Watchmen. The film is set in 1985 where President Nixon is about to serve his third term and World War III, a nuclear war, is about to begin. Superheroes have been outlawed and government hero, The Comedian, has been murdered. Who did it? Why? Now the Watchmen must band together to solve this crime and discover the secret behind the future apocalypse.

I respect those who were not fond of the film. How did I react? My rating gives it away. I really liked this movie. The visuals are amazing, the narrative structure is brilliant and the performances are great. I'll admit that I've never read the graphic novel but two geeks told me some of the story to me. I was too busy following the story did I didn't make time to catch flaws. I usually don't do that.

The film begins with a bang showing the murder of Edward Blake alias The Comedian. That comes after the studio logos which looked like a slideshow made on Windows Movie Maker. After that, we get an opening credits scene that is probably the best in any movie. This isn't the type of opening credits sequence that you can't ignore. It sets up the film's background and universe. Plus, you get Bob Dylan's "Time's Are A-Changin'" playing in the background which is extremely perfect. You have to pay attention throughout or the movie will not be interesting to you.

Watchmen is set in an alternate and bleak 1985 New York City. One of the characters, Rorschach, explicitly describes this gloomy world filled with homosexuals and people using heroin and child pornography. The quote gave me goosebumps. There are numerous characters in Watchmen and we are given a background and origin story on each. The origin sequences are well told and paced. Especially the ones about Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach. The characters are awesome by the way. I really liked Nite Owl and Dr. Manhattan but my favorite was without a doubt was Rorschach. A creepy, gritty, and memorable sociopath. His origin is very creepy and a bit emotional. I thought the storytelling was brilliant. This is when narration comes in handy like Sin City. I loved the storytelling.

The performances range from "great" to "awesome". The great performances come from the guy who played Nite Owl, Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan, and Jeffery Dean Morgan as The Comedian. The good performances were from the supporting cast, Carla Gugino as Silk Spectre and Malin Ackerman as Silk Spectre II. The excellent performance was from Jackie Earle Haley who played Rorschach. He was so creepy and delivered his lines excellently with his deep and graspy voice. The effects and stunts were sick. Not to mention to production design and Snyder's direction. They were all great.

You guys are probably gonna say something like this in the comments:

"Great review! I thought it was (insert negative adjective here)."

I respect those who did not like the movie. While I said that I didn't pay attention to the film's flaws, I can see which aspects many geeks didn't like. I personally really enjoyed Watchmen. It is one of the best comic book movies I have ever seen and the deepest superhero ever in my opinion. I was thoroughly enthralled and blown away by this superhero epic.

"What, in life, does not deserve celebrating?"
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
August 7, 2011
Big-screen adaptations of Alan Moore's work have been a decidedly mixed bag, from the enjoyable V for Vendetta to the flawed From Hell and the excremental The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In bringing what is considered Moore's finest work to the big screen, Zack Snyder has made every effort to do justice to the graphic novel and satisfy the fans. But the finished project is found severely wanting in crucial areas, resulting in either a big, long folly or a missed opportunity.

Of all the Alan Moore adaptations, Watchmen has the longest and most troubled production history. The film was first mooted in the early-1990s when Terry Gilliam was approached by Sam Hamm, who had recently achieved success writing Tim Burton's Batman. Despite being initially interested, Gilliam concluded that the novel could only work as a TV mini-series; he left the project and Hamm's script was indefinitely shelved.

The project re-emerged in 2001 with a new script by David Hayter, which lay around for three years before Darren Aronofsky was attached to direct. He subsequently dropped out to make pet project The Fountain, and his replacement Paul Greengrass did the same a few months later, in order to make United 93. Snyder was first offered the project in late-2005, shortly after his success with the remake of Dawn of the Dead. The project was formally green-lit in 2007 after shooting wrapped on 300.

There is no doubt that Snyder and everyone involved in Watchmen wanted this to be the best possible adaptation of the novel. This is in spite of the fact that Alan Moore has disowned it, along with all other adaptations of his work (and looking at The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it's not hard to see why). Various stories have circulated about the cast having copies of the novel on set, so that it could be referred to directly whenever there were questions over plot or characters. The film was clearly made for the fans and not for the money: with an 18 certificate and a budget of $130m, no expense or effort has been spared to replicate the comics as closely as possible.

But in spite of this obvious affection, there are a number of big problems with Watchmen which render it at least a partial failure. The first and biggest problem is that Snyder is a fanboy. He loves the comic to such an obsessive degree that either he can't explain it to the rest of us, or he isn't willing to explain it.

As a result the story of Watchmen is largely impenetrable to anyone who didn't spend their teenage years immersed in comic books. Snyder is focussed so much on meeting fans' expectations that the backstories or reasoning of the characters gets buried or lost, not to mention the mechanics of the alternative universe they inhabit. This is particularly the case with Doctor Manhattan, whose origins are only touched upon about halfway through the film.

The second, deeper problem is with Snyder as a director. He is not the "visionary" that he is made out to be, being visually stylish but a very poor storyteller. While the novel is purported to have substance coming out of its ears, the film gives the impression that it is all surface and no depth, amounting to little more than people in latex hitting each other. One could say on these grounds that Snyder is the new Joel Schumacher - and for all its disinterest in the comics, Batman Forever is a better film.

On top of his irritating use of slow-motion, most of Snyder's visual decisions smack of impatience, incompetence or showing off. His impatience is seen in the constant cutting between multiple, similar angles in scenes which would flow much better with longer, simpler takes. His incompetence is found in beginner's-level mistakes: he shoots several scenes through windows, resulting in lens flare or distracting reflections. And his showing-off is evident in Veidt's interview being reflected through a lens of another camera, or a sex scene being captured through the glasses on the table. In each example the visual decisions are an unnecessary indulgence which contribute little, and in many cases detract from and undermine the story.

Regardless of how complex or multi-layered the story of Watchmen is, it does not require two-and-a-half-hours to be told. On the one hand, it feels like the film always wants more time to develop the characters, and Gilliam was probably right that it would have worked better as a miniseries. On the other hand, if Snyder was determined to make a manageable film, he would have accepted the necessary compressions and moved the character development forward. But he doesn't do this, at least not as much or as well as he should. We have to wait nearly two hours for things to come together with the twist involving Ozymandias and Doctor Manhattan, by which time most of us will have given up.

So much of Watchmen is window-dressing, confirming Snyder's pursuit of style over everything else. Rorschach's film noir narration might work in the comics, but it serves little to no purpose here: the end point involving the discovery of his journal is silly, and it does nothing to move the plot forward other than stating the obvious. Snyder's choice of pop songs on the soundtrack is lazy, particularly in the opening montage: he settles for Bob Dylan's 'The Times They Are A-Changin' where Quentin Tarantino would have put on something more entertainingly esoteric.

This feeling of superficiality, coupled with the unrelenting pursuit of style, causes all of the arresting themes of Watchmen to get buried. In fact, the story raises a number of interesting issues about the ethics of nuclear war and peace, the workings of mutually assured destruction, and in particular the role of "costumed heroes" and how they could be controlled or policed. The slogan "Who Watches the Watchmen?" recurs as graffiti throughout the film but is barely addressed in a constructive way.

The tone of Watchmen keeps flipping between flippant and portentous, with Snyder being unable to balance the dark or forbidding elements with the inherent silliness of a naked floating blue man. This is perfectly demonstrated by a scene halfway through on Night Owl's ship: Silk Spectre II makes a comment about impending nuclear war, which then cuts to her and Night Owl making love in their costumes. Such lurches in tone are akin to erotic fan fiction and threaten to drag the whole film into parody.

Because the flippant aspects of Watchmen are so prominent, scenes which are meant to be more thought-provoking lose much of their impact. During the scenes involving Richard Nixon, what sticks in your mind is not the threat of global destruction but his comedy rubber nose, which makes the war room scenes feel less like Dr. Strangelove than Spitting Image. More problematically, when the film has a near-rape sequence, or a child abduction, or any number of brutally gruesome deaths, Snyder can't pull himself together: he can't deliver the emotion punch that such scenes require to prevent them from seeming inexcusably adolescent.

Watchmen is a deeply flawed, over-long and often boring attempt to bring Alan Moore's vision to the big screen. Whatever the merits of the graphic novel, and regardless of his good intentions, Snyder was the wrong director and this adaptation will put many newcomers off the source material. It pales in comparison to both V for Vendetta and Christopher Nolan's Batman films, both as a comic adaptation and an attempt to explore serious political issues. Fanboys will leap to its defence, but everyone else will be bored, annoyed or confused.
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2011
Most of this movie's criticism seems to stem from its complete disregard for the non-convert, the casual viewer, the poor soul who has not read the graphic novel. What Zack Snyder does commit to, however, is a most intriguing and unsettling reproduction of the book... filled with grisly violence, captivating performances, visual splendor, and a deeply affecting image of an alternate Earth. The movie is a message of chaos and suffering, one that evokes the deepest tones of the book that still brightly resonate decades later.
Super Reviewer
March 2, 2011
A tremendous film that is one of the greatest superheroes films ever. Watchmen is not just a superhero film, its a mind bendingly horrific tale that will shock you, amaze you, and take you through the most realistic version of a world with vigialantes, and what happens when there forgotten. You czn tell Zack Snyder took into account every bit of his work into making this tremendous adaption of the tremendous comic book. The acting was amazing in this film, and they not only play there parts with perfection, they embody them and turn them into true human beings. The effects in this film were also a visionary achievment, recreating every little aspect of the comic, espically the Mars scene, truly mezmorizing. This is not a superhero movie in a sense, its a mind twisting story of a group of heroes, but it isnt one of those cutesy superhero movies with no blood, it is the world with rape, prostitution, killings, and bloody gore. Watchmen can't be explained in words, only in sight, watch this movie. Its not The Dark Knight, but its pretty damn close.
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