I saw Watchmen tonight.
Generally, I liked it. Unfortunately, at times the soundtrack was jarringly terrible. I think reading the graphic novel before seeing the film is almost required; as such, I suspect most viewers won’t like it. That said, there was a lot of laughing, but I know in part that was directed at some of the more ridiculous lines. The gore level was very high, way above most movies I see; I haven’t seen any of the torture genre, but I suspect it was about on par for some scenes.
Overall, I’d recommend it to fans of the original, and to people interested in stylized comic book visuals. I look forward to the extended edition that cuts in scenes from The Black Freighter animated film, as in the novel. I’ll see if Netflix gets the separate DVD release of The Black Freighter soon.
Spoilery discussion below the cut.
Far and above, Rorschach stole the show. He was the right mix of creepy and crazy, and expressed the views of the graphic novel character almost verbatim. It probably helped that the actor was a fan of the novel, and that the character is one of the more popular ones (thus motivating the producers to be more careful).
As reported, they significantly modified the ending. Instead of telepathic alien squid, it was some bright blue Dr. Manhattan explosions. I didn’t feel that this was all that terrible a change, and probably made more sense to a general audience than a sudden squid appearance would have.
The action scenes were intense and gory, featuring repeated cleavers to the head, dismemberment, compound fractures, and ridiculous amounts of CG blood. It bothered me more than 300 did, probably because it was less bright flashy sword combat and more serious beatdowns.
The sex scenes between Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II were pretty hilariously bad. I suppose it fits the Nite Owl character a bit, but the audience isn’t supposed to be laughing at it, I think. It wasn’t helped by the music selection.
Overall, the soundtrack was pretty terrible chosen. I think they were trying to select culturally relevant songs from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, and while most of the songs are on their own quite good, none of them fit. The sound mix was also off, in that the music-only sections were louder even than the action sequences in some spots. It was just jarring; I would have preferred some darker, mostly instrumental choices like some of the music they selected for the trailers, such as Muse’s “War”. This was by far the main thing that brought down my enjoyment.
The visuals were generally amazing and detailed; I suspect there were very few shots that didn’t have at least a little CG enhancement. I particularly enjoyed the opening credits sequence featuring some of the historical exploits of the Minutemen. It was executed with these slow-motion vignettes, around photographs being taken. This was one of my favorite parts (and contained a lot of the obscure fan references I tend to like).
Watch Watchmen, but read the graphic novel first.