Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Zack Snyder's bloated screen adaptation will go over best with fanboys, fangirls, fanmen and fanwomen who give high marks for slavish fidelity to the source material.
Los Angeles Times:
Snyder has been unable to create a satisfying tone for the proceedings. While the graphic novel played everything as realistically as it could, the film feels artificially stylized and inappropriately cartoonish.
This movie will shake your windows and rattle your walls. At least it will for a couple of hours, before 40-odd minutes of draggy, comic-book exposition smother the wild, subversive superhero business that came before.
... A bizarrely bleak blockbuster, as director Zack Snyder ("300") turns the rich, revisionist, justly praised, 12-part 1986 comic book into nothing less than an attempt to decode 20th century America through its pop culture and vice-versa.
New York Times:
Zack Snyder's film version of Watchmen is a grim and grisly excursion into comic-book mythology.
New York Magazine/Vulture:
They've made the most reverent adaptation of a graphic novel ever. But this kind of reverence kills what it seeks to preserve. The movie is embalmed.
New York Observer:
It wasn't that I wasn't engaged in some of the (many) story lines, it's just that there was never enough time spent with any particular one to so as to become emotionally involved ... which seem strange to say about a movie 165 minutes long.
The result is oddly hollow and disjointed; the actors moving stiffly from one overdetermined tableau to another.
Wall Street Journal:
The reverence is inert, the violence noxious, the mythology murky, the tone grandiose, the texture glutinous. It's an alternate version of The Incredibles minus the delight.
Watchman plays as if the filmmakers were afraid to make their own mark. It's a transliteration rather than a translation from one medium to another; a too-often lifeless homage.
Watchmen deserves credit for staying true to the characters, plot (up to a point), and look of the original material while still generating his own kind of energy, even though that energy sometimes feels misapplied and overcranked.
A (mostly) faithful re-creation of the comic. But it could have been so much more.
Overall, Snyder has given us a Watchmen that's visually faithful to the original to the point of panel-by-panel fetishism, and that may be enough for many members of the cult.
Incredibly -- but not stupidly -- violent. Snyder isn't using death for cheap thrills; we're meant to feel revulsion and despair.
It should have remained what it was from the start: a masterpiece of vicious Cold War paranoia, completely and gut-churningly rendered on the printed page.
Watchmen the movie provides ample evidence that more is more, but less might have been closer to Moore in spirit (that is, anarchic, witty and compelling).
Watchmen is a two-hour, 42 minute ride through a dystopian scape with appropriately twisting and conflicted story lines.
Mammoth, mangled, violent, confusing, dazzling, dark, excessive and occasionally brilliant.
Watchmen isn't boring, but as a fragmented sci-fi doomsday noir, it remains as detached from the viewer as it is from the zeitgeist.
If you haven't read the source material I think you're going to dislike it even more than I did. So yeah, it's sort of bad news around here.
Yes, I've read Watchmen... It moved me, too. And still -- or, rather, because of that -- I found director Snyder's adaptation hugely disappointing, faithful as it is to the 1986 graphic novel.
Dallas Morning News:
As transferred to the big screen by director Zack Snyder, Watchmen is often visually stunning but also confusing and scattered.
With its basic themes, structure and apocalyptic vibe intact, Watchmen turns out to be quite filmable after all, and its stylish highlights trump any quibbles.
The film still offers an arrestingly dark vision.
Snyder has appropriated Moore's doomsday themes without any sense of how to animate them. That's the trouble with loyalty. Too little, and you alienate your core fans. Too much, and you lose everyone -- and everything -- else.
Incoherent, overblown, and grimy with misogyny, Watchmen marks the final demolition of the comic strip, and it leaves you wondering: where did the comedy go?
The moviemakers are too busy digitizing ice castles on Mars to bother with much in the way of meta-commentary. Or, for that matter, with personalities.
New York Daily News:
The most pleasant surprise in the movie adaptation of Watchmen is the pop-art fusion set off by placing superheroes in a 'real' world.
New York Post:
Other fantasy movies are playing checkers. This one plays chess, with grandmaster panache.
Watchmen is a perfect example of how material, no matter how reverentially treated and massaged, often loses something critical in translation.
You have to go back to the comic to learn that the freaks in Watchmen are not only for geeks, maybe that's not so bad. Just sayin'.
I think Snyder and his writers channel moments of the humanity and humor that's always present in Moore's work.
San Francisco Chronicle:
Part conscious and part unconscious, Watchmen tells us of a world without hope and then makes us wonder if we're already living in it.
Watchmen fans wondering whether their graphic novel has been ruined will be thrilled to see its key scenes reproduced with storyboardlike fidelity, but those who've never read it will be unlikely to understand what the big deal was in the first place.
Globe and Mail:
Watchmen may be another comic-book blockbuster but, at its best moments, it's also a refreshingly provocative head trip.
Against considerable odds, Snyder has directed a movie that should satisfy fanboys while engaging adventurous newcomers.
Watchmen has moments of greatness. It proves again that the action movie is where the best young Hollywood brains have gone to bring flesh to their fantasies.
There's something admirable about the entire enterprise: its ungainly size, its unrelenting weirdness, its willful, challenging intensity.
What the film rightfully retains, and often nails, is the book's commitment to seriously digging deep into the psychic debris of these archetypes.
The New Republic:
[T]there are problems both with the tale, which was an awful lot more subversive 20 years ago than it is today, and the telling, which in contrast to Moore's radical experimentation is disappointingly staid and straightforward.
As the story proceeds, however, it grows plodding, convoluted and forgettable.
The movie is ultimately undone by its own reverence; there's simply no room for these characters and stories to breathe of their own accord, and even the most fastidiously replicated scenes can feel glib and truncated.
Its failure is one of imagination -- although faithfully approximating Dave Gibbons's original drawings, the filmmakers are unable to teleport themselves to the level of the original concept.
Sad to say, the much-anticipated adaptation of the world's most celebrated graphic novel is long, dull and sinks under the weight of its reverence for the original.