Johnbai wouldn't leave me be: he loved it and really wanted to talk about it. So even though I was in no hurry and could easily have waited for the second-run showing at the Crest discount house, a few of us met up at the Neptune so I could watch Watchmen and Johnbai could take in his third showing. After more than twenty years of wishing and two years of waiting, the comics community had finally gotten its masterpiece brought to the screen, and I was going to see it.
Three hours later, we strolled out into the damp, cool Seattle air, my life unchanged.
It would have been nice if it had been a singular experience, either gut-wrenchingly awful or exceptionally good, but it was neither. In the same way that I liked Dark Knight even though it was only nominally a Batman movie, I didn't much care for Watchmen even though it was faithful to the book and in some ways an effective adaptation.
Movies ain't comics; their language is different, more so than many fans (and practitioners) think. In many ways, the film lost my interest when it followed the novel too slavishly; the essential structures and forms didn't carry over. And when the film deviated from the comic, it was to move into the territory of tired tropes: slow-motion hair-tosses and quick-cut fight scenes. Regardless of its source material, I just didn't think it was that engaging a movie. And as with any "literary" novel being turned into a movie, I think a lot of the internal development got lost, as did the meta-reflection on the superhero genre (and certainly on the comics form).
Watchmen in the end was just something like Quantum of Solace with costumes. Which makes me wonder if there is a Daniel Craig action figure...