It is really amazing how a movie like Watchmen could be so pretty, so true to the book and yet, so… Unenjoyable. In retrospect however, it isn’t as surprising.
While “Watchmen” is a humanist story about the various aspects of human soul, Zack Snyder is an expert on gore, style, visuals (“Sin City”) and raising the testosterone of viewers to illegal levels (“300”). He is not, however, someone who can give a soul to comics heroes.
Zack did everything he could, but it just isn’t his kind of movie. Despite the “comixie” appearance, “Watchmen” should be done by a director who excels in moving the audience, not one who excels in exciting them. Instead of Zack Snyder, Sam Raimi or Bryan Singer, this movie should’ve been directed by Todd Solondz or Darren Aronofsky.
Here is a review I found on IMDB that pretty much reflects how I feel about it:
Watchmen is, in many ways, a faithful, even loving adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel. Zack Snyder reproduces many of the scenes, especially early in the film, almost “shot for shot” from the book. Most of the major plot points from the book, at least those involving the main characters, make it into the movie. The things which were edited from the book: longer sequences of Rorschach, Veidt, and Silk Specter’s pasts, the plot lines with supporting characters, the black freighter sequences, largely make a certain kind of sense as the things you’d cut. Snyder also does an excellent job of establishing the mood of the alternate history and the backstory of the superheroes through a great opening credits montage.
But… the film lacks any real soul. None of the performances stand out. Matthew Goode manages to make Ozymandias more human than he is in the book, at least until the end. Jackie Earle Haley has a moment of snarling greatness near the end, but that’s about it. Patrick Wilson brings nothing to the role of Night Owl, and Billy Crudup’s tepid delivery harms the portrayal of Dr Manhattan. Snyder’s editing out of the secondary characters, while making sense in regards to running time, ultimately blunts the impact of the films climax. Furthermore, Snyder is obviously of rather juvenile sensibilities when it comes to storytelling. While he’s cut out many moments of character development he actually INCREASES the time allotted to violence. The book is not actually that violent and most of the more gruesome acts happen off camera. In Snyder’s Watchmen we’re treated to extremely gory disintegrations and extended slow-mo fight scenes which serve to show off his cool camera technology but do nothing to advance the film. There’s also two instances where Snyder takes lines from the book and rather than having them delivered by the actual character, has them delivered as heresay by another one. In the final case this dramatically blunts one of the central messages of the film, ultimately making the line just an offhanded quip. Oddly, given the apocalyptic ending, the film really has no emotional payoff.