Watchmen, as cinema, shouldn't succeed. Alan Moore's groundbreaking graphic novel is packed with so much rich narrative that to simply adapt it into a movie is nearly impossible; and yet Zack Snyder's fantastic effort pays off. Pacing can be uneven, some of the acting is spotty, but the detailed, multilayered world is effectively achieved and glorious to behold. The actual movie, in traditional Snyder vein, is breathtakingly gorgeous, combining beautiful shots with stunning color enhancement techniques. Each scene expertly roots the gritty alternate universe deeper into the viewer's consciousness, and the unflinchingly brutal violence is a visual treat. Rorschach's narration grabs and never lets go. His lust for true justice never gets obscured, never compromised, and in a blood-spattered world he viciously eradicates that which is evil. Rorschach's character, brooding and determined, is so delightfully recreated from the graphic novel - complete with several word-for-word journal entries - that one has to admire Snyder's enthusiasm for the source material. Of course, Watchmen, some have said, is inherently unfilmable, and while that is not exactly the case here, there are some glaring missteps that were practically inevitable. Most notably, the movie fluctuates wildly between focusing on Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach - huge stretches of time are devoted to exposition of the two characters and their exploits, but often the same amount of time passes without seeing one of the two characters onscreen. While Dr. Manhattan's past is explored in haunting detail, perfectly recreated, Rorschach is unfortunately absent during the entire sequence (close to an hour long) despite being one of the main characters. Arguably, Rorschach is THE main character, and so this portion of the movie left me dissatisfied. However, the morbid world of alternate New York is plumbed extensively, to our delight, and Rorschach's ever-moving, emotionless mask is an iconic reminder of the city's edgy unrest. Credit must be given to Snyder for not shying away from onscreen brutality - during a particularly masterful sequence Rorschach wheedles a confession out of a child rapist and murderer. Thinking he'll be turned in to the police, the rapist visibly settles, expecting mercy. His voice turns to a terrified scream as the masked vigilante advances on him with a butcher's knife, hacking the horrified criminal to pieces with enraged force. Lighting, cinematography, and audio are used in a perfect symphony throughout this and other sequences, combining murderousness with absolutely sublime cinematography, the latter of which is so impressive it completely captures the viewer. When the colors are popping, the blood is flowing, and the images coalescing, Watchmen is undeniably a masterpiece. As a narrative, the story leaves some to be desired and the character development is rather uneven, and ultimately we aren't left with much to take away from the experience - the film's most glaring flaw. Yet Snyder more than makes up for it with the most magnificent cinematography I've ever seen. Taken solely as the cinematic adaption to an excellent graphic novel, Watchmen simply could not have been better.