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Watchmen 2009

Critics score:
65 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: 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. Read more

Kenneth Turan, 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. Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: A work that's easier to ponder than enjoy. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: 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. Read more

Ben Lyons, At the Movies: The slowed down pace of the combat sequences is intoxicating to watch. Read more

James Rocchi, MSN Movies: ... 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. Read more

A.O. Scott, New York Times: Zack Snyder's film version of Watchmen is a grim and grisly excursion into comic-book mythology. Read more

David Edelstein, 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. Read more

Sara Vilkomerson, 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. Read more

Noah Berlatsky, Chicago Reader: The result is oddly hollow and disjointed; the actors moving stiffly from one overdetermined tableau to another. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, 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. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: 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. Read more

Keith Phipps, AV Club: 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. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: A (mostly) faithful re-creation of the comic. But it could have been so much more. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: 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. Read more

Amy Nicholson, Boxoffice Magazine: Incredibly -- but not stupidly -- violent. Snyder isn't using death for cheap thrills; we're meant to feel revulsion and despair. Read more

Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle: 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. Read more

Tom Charity, CNN.com: 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). Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: Watchmen left me looking at the exit far more often than at the screen. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: Watchmen is a two-hour, 42 minute ride through a dystopian scape with appropriately twisting and conflicted story lines. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: Mammoth, mangled, violent, confusing, dazzling, dark, excessive and occasionally brilliant. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: 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. Read more

Laremy Legel, Film.com: 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. Read more

Christy Lemire, Associated Press: 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. Read more

Tom Maurstad, Dallas Morning News: As transferred to the big screen by director Zack Snyder, Watchmen is often visually stunning but also confusing and scattered. Read more

Connie Ogle, Miami Herald: 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. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: The film still offers an arrestingly dark vision. Read more

Devin Gordon, Newsweek: 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. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: 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? Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: As much as it respectfully copies the comic book, the film can't quite measure up. Read more

Bob Mondello, NPR: 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. Read more

Joe Neumaier, 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. Read more

Kyle Smith, New York Post: Other fantasy movies are playing checkers. This one plays chess, with grandmaster panache. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: Watchmen is a perfect example of how material, no matter how reverentially treated and massaged, often loses something critical in translation. Read more

Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com: Great book, mediocre adaptation. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: Another bold exercise in the liberation of the superhero movie. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: 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'. Read more

Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com: I think Snyder and his writers channel moments of the humanity and humor that's always present in Moore's work. Read more

Mick LaSalle, 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. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: 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. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Watchmen bites off more than a single film can chew, and chokes on its gluttony. Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail: Watchmen may be another comic-book blockbuster but, at its best moments, it's also a refreshingly provocative head trip. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: Against considerable odds, Snyder has directed a movie that should satisfy fanboys while engaging adventurous newcomers. Read more

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: 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. Read more

Tom Huddleston, Time Out: There's something admirable about the entire enterprise: its ungainly size, its unrelenting weirdness, its willful, challenging intensity. Read more

David Fear, Time Out: What the film rightfully retains, and often nails, is the book's commitment to seriously digging deep into the psychic debris of these archetypes. Read more

Christopher Orr, 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. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: As the story proceeds, however, it grows plodding, convoluted and forgettable. Read more

Justin Chang, Variety: 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. Read more

J. Hoberman, Village Voice: 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. Read more

Philip Kennicott, Washington Post: 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. Read more