Weighing in on Watchmen is like flicking a turd in the ocean: no one's really going to notice, but it certainly adds to the general pollution. So be it. Just let me say my peace. By in large, Watchman has been unfairly dismissed and there are a couple points I feel compelled to assert as a humble fanboy and an even more humble critic.
First, Zack Snyder's Watchmen is faithful in spirit to the graphic novel. The comic is a text of grand postulation and complex parable that is just as relevant in 1985 as it is now. Omissions were minor, and the film did its best to stay true to the essence of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's creation. The novel draws conclusions, but they are by no means definitive or absolute; the film is bravely willing to stick with that. The characters are brilliantly conceived from page to screen, especially Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan.
Second, we are dealing with a very unlevel pop culture playing field. I bet for every critic who disliked Watchmen, you wold find a critic who loved Batman Begins. For months the trailer has been telling us that film is take from "the most celebrated graphic novel of all time." Those unfamiliar with Watchmen immediately made the super geek association—how else could something be so celebrated yet unknown—and those familiar with Watchmen simply wondered who said it was the most celebrated graphic novel of all time. Batman is easy. Batman is available through so many machinations it makes my head spin. It is a huge, huge franchise whose hero is always a hero. Watchmen is not so easy. There is nothing iconic to a mass audience and the 'heroes' are unredemptive at best. I found people being way to generous to Batman Begins and way to unforgiving to Watchmen.
After more than a week thinking about Watchman, having general water-cooler conversations about the film and revisiting the comic, I've warmed up to the film to the point where I am considering screenwriter David Hayter's plea to see the film again. The film's major blunder, in my opinion, was the overpowering music montages. The overtly kitschy choices were not only nauseating, but totally wrong. (Hire a friggin' composer for what you spent on the rights for those songs, dude.)
Snyder had an impossible task in front of him and I truly think he made the most of it. If you spend a week with the complete graphic novel, it will still seem like not enough time. The film crams most of that into 2 hours and 40 minutes. Inevitably, statements like "Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts" translate better to a reader than a viewer. Watchmen has a life of its own, and Snyder obviously did not want to tinker with that. Perhaps that was his biggest mistake, to not give the film a life of its own. Be it good or bad, it is chained to the graphic novel.
Watchmen has not done the business that its makers had hoped (hence the open letter to pretty please go see it again.) Watchmen was supposed to be a bigger, better and smarter film than Snyder's previous chest-beating 300. I would say, without hesitation, that Watchmen is heads and shoulders above 300, but this is apparently not what people want. Race to Witch Mountain is the new king of the hill, as Watchmen drops to number two (just ahead of Last House on the Left Redux.) God knows, no one is going to stop adapting comic books anymore than they are going to stop remaking horror films, but I'll take Rorschach over Batman and Dr. Manhattan over King Leonidas any day of the week.