Went to see the Watchmen this evening - first film I've been to in yonks. Invited to go along with colleagues, or probably wouldn't have got round to it even so.
As chance would have it, I'd just read the Watchmen back in November, before I knew there was a film imminent. Since it came out I've fairly well spoiled myself on everyone's reviews, so as not to be too disappointed about how it's Not as Good as the Book. Anyway...
Generally I'd say pretty good. Pretty much faithful to the book, and I'd say the one major plot point where it diverged, in terms of Veidt's scheme at the end, it actually made more sense, and didn't really lose anything. Captured the look of the book incredibly well, and sometimes managed to use the film montage to good effect, like quickly skating over the alternative history timeline. Music... some worked, like the Dylan and the 99 balloons, I thought - right sort of feel for the time. The Alleluia for the sex scene a bit cheesy though.
Acting mixed - Rorsach was fantastic of course, others sometimes a bit wooden, though not much you can really do with Dr. Manhattan.
One thing I noticed that was missing was the demolition of the psychologist, from his initial cheery optimism that he could 'cure' Rorsach, through his deepening obsession, alienating him from his wife and friends, to his fairly well getting swallowed up in the 'abyss' of his patient's dismal outlook. All this was telescoped into the one interview where he's shown the inkblots and then tells the story anout the murdered girl.
The other, related thing that was missed I'd forgotten until I got back, and that was the parallel pirate story in the comic book being read by the kid at the newsstand where Rorsach hangs out. And that's when I realised what was really missing from the film.
The pirate story is completely irrelevant to the main plot, which makes it completely natural to cut it, especially in a film that long. But it's utterly crucial to the feel of the piece, to giving it its power, it's grim, dark, existential mood. (Along with things like the psychologist).
Not so much a parallel, more a counterpoint, taking a fairly literal musical analogy. Without the counterpoint, you're just left with a pretty melody. If you're not listening very carefully, you might not even remember the counterpoint; you'll just realise the tune without it isn't as good. The counterpoint is what turns it into a piece of music rather than just a tune. So I guess the film of the Watchmen was a bit like that.
Still, far from bad, and I'd still recommend to see it rather than not.
Almost inclined to say, for those who've neither seen the film nor read the book, to see the film first: rather than read the book and then be a little disappointed in the film, see the film, get the story, then get the extra layers in the book.