Watchmen is hit or miss, depending on who is watching, but nobody could argue that it isn’t a very unique movie. That’s partly because it’s based on a very unique story. There’s very little like it, nothing that it could really be compared to, and the movie was always going to appeal to a very specific audience. People have dissected it, criticized it for being too faithful to the book, wondered if the pacing or the directing or the acting that turned off many in the regular audience.
I don’t buy it. The film is beautiful to watch, and very well adapted. It’s actually one of the few adaptions where I didn’t feel disappointed at what they left out or changed. The problem with Watchmen is that only a select group of people are going to like it, regardless of the medium it’s presented in. The story is bleak and thoughtful, carrying much more weight than your typical comic book movie, and making The Dark Knight look like Spider-Man when it comes to heavy-handedness. I could select, from my friends who had never read the book, those who would love it and those that wouldn’t, based on what I knew about their personality and their taste.
Most fans of the books loved the movie, but thought that nonreaders might find it muddled or difficult to follow, which again I don’t think is the case. Those that were interested would follow it easily, those that weren’t stopped paying attention and got lost. The graphic novel and the movie only have an appeal for those with a particular taste, and if you don’t have it you’re not going to enjoy yourself.
Most agree it is the best adaption we could have hoped for. But I don’t think we need to criticize the different facets of the movie to determine why it wasn’t more successful. Was it too long, was it too faithful? I don’t completely understand the ‘too faithful’ argument. We who like it love it, and those who don’t can’t possibly understand why we do. The movie, so long as it remained true in tone and in plot to the original, was always going to be divisive. It’s faithfulness did not affect the movie stylistically or structurally; it was not these that drove some people away. It’s the plot, and always was the plot, that some wouldn’t respond to.
For those that haven’t seen it, I’d recommend it just to see what you think. You might find something you really like, and if nothing else it’s visually striking.
And there’s a lot of Dr. Manhattan’s big blue penis, which caused more of a public outcry than was ever necessary.