First, a disclaimer: I haven’t read the famed Watchmen comic. The little I knew of the storyline going in was what I had read or seen in pre-movie promotional material. I had enough of the backstory to understand what the film was going to be about, and had a general inkling of the film style that was going to be presented. In other words, I did not go into the film a fan by any stretch of the imagination. But I was interested.
All that said, I did not find Watchmen to be entertaining. It wasn’t a bad film – you could tell the director was trying to adhere to the graphic novel / comic book stylings with his choice of framing, the dialogue was reasonably smart, and the plot was adequately complicated. The quality of the production was, I thought, well done. I enjoyed seeing the backstories unfold and how the plot wrapped around itself, although not every filmgoer will appreciate how the flashbacks were incorporated. This is a film that does not talk down to its audience by any stretch of the imagination.
But it was, overall, depressing to watch unfold.
Apparently, I am not alone in my opinion. Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, and other mainstream critics have also not praised the film. The Associated Press gave the film 1.5 stars out of 4.
Perhaps it had to do with my preconceived expectation of wanting to be entertained; perhaps it was an unfulfilling/non-uplifting ending. Maybe I am one of those who will see this film and Just Not Get It.
I was lucky enough to watch the film with some people who were fans of the source material. They were happy with the production, but even they thought the film, clocked at about 2 hours 40 minutes, went on about 30 minutes too long. They said that the film adhered too closely to following the book, and thought that it could have been lightened up a little by taking some liberties that other purists may have complained about taking. They applauded the styling, and agreed that future filmmakers should take notice in how Watchmen was done that graphic novels can be accurately translated into film form.
Other comic-oriented or action films I’ve seen have had the fanboys raving about the film details after the film was over. They’d sit through the final credits, wait for the lights to come up. Applaud wildly at jokes, death scenes, the opening credits, the end of the film. At the fully packed theatre I went to, there was none of that.
To paraphrase a line from the movie: If you can’t even please the fanboys, who will watch Watchmen?