I watched the Watchmen movie this weekend with my dad and my brother. Neither of them had seen it, and neither of them are active comic book readers. Both of them have read and enjoyed some comics in their lifetimes, but neither of them pick them up for themselves, nor had they ever read Watchmen.
I was at my parents house this weekend. My brother was there as well for the weekend. I went out to pick up ingredients for dinner with my dad and picked up the Watchmen DVD so that we could all watch it the next evening. Sometime between buying it and watching it I misplaced it and asked my mom if she had seen my watchmen video... She thought I was talking about some sort of handheld device. I almost laughed at her, but had to admit that it did sound like that.
I thought the movie was thankfully long. I thought the movie was very faithful to the comic, and that the change to the ending was smart and didn't really hurt anything. As a big fan of the brilliant comic, I think the movie was nearly perfect. It did a great number of things well, and made what I see as a handful of minor adjustments to make the movie a little easier for general audiences to grasp. The original plot in the comic, and the original resolution are a bit of a stretch when you look at how reasonably things were tied up in the movie. In the comic, it was a perfect plot for people who are into comics. There is a lot more too it than the movie, but I think general audiences would have had more issues accepting it.
I thought that the movie hit all the right notes, and gave us a living breathing Rorschach in a way that could only be suggested at in the comic. Jackie Earle Haley's performance was perfect, and he left the same impression on my dad and brother, that the character in the comic had. I also love that this is the guy that played Kelly in the original Bad News Bears movies. Who didn't love Kelly when he showed up all badass delinquent on his motor bike. I am really happy that he is getting a bit of a renaissance.
At the end of the movie, after commenting on not realizing just how long it was (although I do think we watched the long director's cut). Both of them wondered why the movie had been panned so much. They thought it was very good, and very much a comic book movie, albeit a dark one. I asked them about the dialog, as I know a lot of it was right from the comic, and comes off a bit wordy or slightly strange being said by real people, and they felt it really just affirmed that you were watching a comic as a movie.
I was very happy with it, and my two impartial observers were happy with it as well. It is a movie that tries at the expense of mass audience appeal to be true to its source in my opinion. I will go slightly off course now and compare this briefly to the first Harry Potter movie. That is another situation where a movie tried to stay extremely faithful to the source. The first movie came off as a long slow animated storybook that I don't think really succeeded as a movie on any other terms. The HP movies in my opinion, have gotten progressively better as they have started really tailoring the story the deliver to the screen. Yes it means that they leave out important things, but it also means you are getting a better movie experience in my opinion, and one that can carry over just fine to people who may not have ever read the book.
Watchmen as a movie delivers a bit of both of those ideas. It is long and very faithful to the source. It made some changes in the translation to the screen, and it could be appreciated by people that hadn't read the original. However, I think that given the source, and the need to have at least something of a comic book super-hero background to really appreciate what you are seeing, I don't think Watchmen could be pared down and still mean anything in the same way that the HP movies have. Watchmen isn't an ongoing story in the Way the Harry Potter Volumes are. If you are making a movie of it, you need to really include all of it, or none of it.
I recommend it. If you like comics, watch it. If you love Watchmen, it shouldn't hurt you at all to watch it. If you really haven't ever read the comic, now is the time to do it.