So Watchmen is out on DVD. I'm guessing people who skipped it in theaters (thanks to the critics) are going to be wondering if it's worth a rental soon. Short answer? Yes. Here's my review.
"The Dark Knight" this is not, though it's easy to understand the predicament of "Watchmen." For most movie-goers, the ultra-serious trailer that appeared before "The Dark Knight" was a first exposure. The commercials that soon hit airwaves weren't much different. What the advertising for "Watchmen" wasn't able to do was explain to people that, unlike "The Dark Knight", "Watchmen" is VERY much a comic book movie, and a parody of one at that. Understandably, many viewers left theaters that night scratching their heads, wondering what exactly it was they'd just spent the last three hours sitting through.
Snyder executes Moore's work almost flawlessly. Aside from the ending (which, BTW, is better than the comic book's disappointing one), "Watchmen" easily stands as one of the most accurately depicted comic book movies ever. The few omissions leave some viewers out in the cold- but Snyder is a genius at putting emphasis where it counts. A video that plays in the beginning under Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A'Changing" serves as both a credit roll and a history lesson for those not already familiar with the story's alternate setting. Snyder has also put Moore's political themes at the forefront: there's more Nixon scenes, as some well as some humorous and speculative cameos from the likes of Ronald Reagan, Fidel Castro, and Pat Buchanan.
And yet, the film is almost too short- even three hour long director's cut. As the scenes of the film progresses faithfully to the chapters of the book, with the storytelling focusing on one or maybe two characters at a time and their paths intertwining closer to the end, one gets the impression that Watchmen would have done much better as an eleven or twelve episode mini-series. But then, we wouldn't have the high-budget special effects and choreography that we do now, and those are two aspects of the movie that are worth noting because they're definitely top-notch.
The liberal intellegensia hate this movie, as their press has made quite clear, but that's because they haven't done their homework. Like so many viewers, critics have not been able to pinpoint its place as a parody. Viewers who expect Watchmen is some super serious courtroom drama with masked adventurers playing polarized symbolizations of things like 'law and order' or 'chaos'- that is, people who expect they're getting something like "The Dark Knight"- should approach the movie with more of an open mind. Those who accept it for what it is- a politically fueled dark comic book 'parody' with plenty of serious points as well as laughs- will like the film quite a bit more.
Final Score: 4.5/5; A-