1. The Watchmen is a graphic novel that follows a group of costumed individuals as they deal with a post-“hero” alternate reality. The graphic novel uses dark imagery and “adult” themes to develop the plot. The graphic novel also gives a very grey tint to every facet of the story; nothing is ever black and white. The heroes do some terrible things and the villain has good intentions.
2. The movie evokes a dark and gritty style that causes one to harken Zach Snyder’s previous graphic novel adaptation, 300. The film flies in the face of other superhero movies by avoiding bright colors and presenting such iconic locations as New York City in grimy tones. A good way to view this contrast is by looking at the difference between the NYC in Spiderman 2 and The Watchmen. Where Spiderman swings on web through a sunlit city that is worth saving, the Watchmen fly their ship through a town that is ultimately “cleansed.”
3. The adaptation is faithful, to a fault. The costumes are carefully brought to life, and the actors suffer in return. They seem stiff, akin to Batman in the first Christopher Nolan film. The film also runs for just under 3 hours, hopping from locale to locale in order to fit the entire story in one movie. The gritty look of the film is lifted straight from the graphic novel, as neither presents a very pleasant outlook on the alternate reality.
The author provides a very interesting defense of his inclusion of sexual violence in his work (namely The Watchmen). He states that sexual violence exists, as abhorrent as it is to acknowledge, and to not include it is to pretend it does not exist. He goes on to say that in the real world, the number of murders per year pales in comparison to the staggering number of crimes involving sexual violence, and that the under representation of these crimes allows society to avoid the very difficult task of addressing the issue.
This review talks about Zach Snyder’s past, which gives an interesting view of the movie.
This article goes into the prequel that was created only recently, it details some of the stories and they flesh out the stories of the characters in the film a little more.
5. The film version of The Watchmen cuts the amount of time needed to digest the story, which in turn warps the meaning and themes of the graphic novel. The novel takes time to read because one must take time to physically turn pages, read and then look at the panels, and etc. This format allows the reader more time to digest and ponder the story, which leads the imagination to go on sojourns of what could happen with the facts presented. This is the magic of the written word. The film, with its compressed time frame (and even then the film is relatively long), holds the viewers’ hand throughout the story, and must use visuals and sound to make the viewer feel a certain way. A great example of this is when Dr. Manhattan explains (if that is even the proper verb for what he does) to Jupiter how she came to be. The music causes the viewer to have certain feelings about what has happened, and the compressed nature of film (the entire sequence takes maybe 3 minutes) precludes the viewer from pondering how he or she should feel about the very complicated circumstances presented.