I have always liked the Watchmen graphic novel, although I have to confess that of all of Alan Moore’s work, From Hell was always my favorite. Or maybe the Green Lantern short story, “Mogo Does Not Socialize.”
Watchmen is essentially unfilmable in its complete form unless it has a 13-part HBO mini-series. It has too much stuff. And I don’t mean just the pirate story that was left on the cutting room floor: extended character backgrounds, extended backgrounds of characters within characters, sub-characters with full backgrounds, side stories, everything that makes Watchmen.
Zach Snyder did, what I felt, was the best possible job he could have with the material in two and a half hours — and it is a full two and a half hours. He stripped Watchmen down to the main story, he gave as much background as he could, and he filmed the essential panels. Jackie Earle Haley is awesome as Rorschach. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a great Comedian. The opening credit sequence does a great job of summing up huge swaths of the graphic novel. It is a distilled Watchmen. It is a more faithful adaptation than his adaptation of the 300 simply because he didn’t need to pad out the material with extra story. It preserved dialogue. It even preserved the pacing and scene transitions.
And being a big comic nerd I am, I greatly enjoyed the very faithful adaptation, and I understand there is only so much Watchmen one can cram into the two and a half hour time frame. I will buy the three and a half hour version with all the cut parts put back in and the reams of director’s commentary.