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Darren says

Zack is very good at bringing to life, panel for panel, the original work with a fanboy like homage. This movie is no exception and makes some great choices to make the series work in movie format—sometimes it’s bit silly (sex scene—yikes) but for the most part it honors well the great work by Moore.

Tym says

Reverent and generally effective, if a bit stodgy. The alternate ending actually works.

Ciaran says

Brings the impossible material to life and inspired a new generation to pick up the book.

History

Watchmen is the Sgt. Pepper of graphic novels.

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seditious masterwork disguises itself as a murder procedural in matter-of-fact storyboard panels (based on Steve Ditko’s regimented nine panel grid). All conventional rules are then broken and the onion layers become infinite. It is a deconstruction of superheroes by being in reality about real people. Like a Ditko story choreographed by Eisner, drawn by Wood, lit by expressionists, edited by Hitchcock, and narrated by Selby, Jr., it is converyed with flat Euro color, no sound effects, noir nihilism, subliminal symbolism, intricate flashbacks, stories within stories, deadpan claustrophobia, and escalating dread.

But also, John Higgins is the third crucial creator in Watchmen. His distinct and precise color palette—which rejects the stalwart upbeat primaries of red, blue, and yellow for the discordant secondary colors of purple, orange, and green- brings the sense of lurid disease, morbid shock, and disorientation to this world.

The immediate genius of Watchmen is that its hero trope surrogates can be read by any novice to the medium and still be richly understood. But underneath that text, the longtime reader finds a profuse subtext that reads as a love letter to the Golden and the Silver Ages of comics. One aspect is the generational hand-off from the ’40s heroes to their future successors, which is modeled on the Justice Society of America and the later Justice League. (And the relay of creative styles, genre idioms, story continuities, and fandoms in reality.)

Another aspect is that the characters reflect the ’60s heroes of Charleton Comics, converted to archetypes free of continuity constraints: for example, Rorschach is the unbridled flaws of Ditko’s moral absolutist hero the Question (and his rabid indie extension, Mr. a) at their Rand-ian worst; but the Comedian goes beyond just the Peacemaker by brutally satirizing similar GodAndCountry warheads like Nick Fury, The Punisher, Judge Dredd, The Vigilante, and Rambo. Through icons and perspectives, Watchmen is savaging all forms of modern fascism, despotic or benign, political or cultural, commercial or spiritual, looking for hope before time runs out.

After two decades of struggle, a film version was finally attempted. But was it possible, and who could do it justice within film length?

Director Zack Snyder is a trendy stylist. But to his credit here, he faithfully follows the book like a bible, in story, look, tone, and even angles. At times, it’s to a fault, with a literalness that feels stodgy or wooden, flat or obvious. But more often, he surprises with his own innovations, like with the rousing and inspired opening credits history, and even to the point of pulling off the heresy of an altered ending. With the insurmountable pressure on to get it right, and with the rightest of texts to follow, Snyder came through very well on this one. And that’s all down to the peerless material and the expectations of a faithful fandom.

V for Vendetta