Some thoughts on Watchmen
Well I liked it.
For those familiar with the book, it’s all in here, or all the parts that matter anyway. The director understands, and loves, the source material, but he hasn’t let it stand in the way of creating a cinematic narrative. A rather dense cinematic narrative at that.
For those unfamiliar with the book (and I maintain that one should never be familiar with a movie’s source material to enjoy the movie), as long as you keep in mind that Watchmen is, in essence, a detective story that pauses, often, for some very long digressions, I think you should be fine, but let me know. The people who really, really hate the movie I think get lost in its narrative ellipses, where the detective plot is put on hold for, say, a series of involved flashbacks or for a sub-plot involving a character’s sex life. Long digressions like this can make a story feel long, but I was never bored by Watchmen and was frequently thrilled, and even surprised, in spite of having re-read the book recently.
The problem with Watchmen, if it’s a problem, is that without the digressions, which are all thematically resonant and serve to deepen the story, if you cut all that stuff out, it’s just another superhero detective story. In a sense, the narrative digressions are the real "point" of the story, and the movie (like the book) uses the detective plot to deliver those digressions.
From a marketing standpoint, of course, the movie is a "tough sell" — it’s got multiple protagonists (four by my count), not a single character to "root for," a complicated plot that keeps looking backward to tell us about characters we barely know yet, a "meta" approach to its subject matter (it’s a superhero story that worries that having superheroes might not be such a good thing) and takes place in a weird alternate-universe 1985. All of which makes sense when you read the book (or it did when I first read it in 1986), but again, you tell me.
As for the learned critics who have screwed in their monocles, tucked in their ascots and sniffed in disdain at this rather ambitious piece of popular culture, describing it as trash and its audience as sociopaths, in time they will look like idiots, if they don’t already.