- Two scenes stand out to me as the best: The opening credits which, while long, are particularly effective in setting the stakes and establishing the tradition within which the rest of the film works (both with and against), and the death scene of the first Owl, which revisits the aesthetic of that credits scene and brings some closure to it, albeit not the sort of closure that we're looking for. (And so it anticipates the penultimate scene, in which Adrian makes clear that the failure of heroes-as-heroes requires that heroes act villainous.) I liked that Snyder played up the movie-star quality of those old Minutemen by giving the scenes a decidedly Old Hollywood feel. (A touch, no doubt, that also owes something to the particularly effective vocal affectation that Carla Gugino brought to her Silk Spectre.) I subsequently learned that the Owl I vs. the knot-heads was cut out of the theatrical release, which is a travesty.
- Acting wise: Dr. Manhattan and Dan were great; the Comedian and Rorschach were okay; Laurie (and Laurie's wig) and Adrian were awful.
- Script wise: I think that Adrian was badly bungled. There's a certain element of mystery surrounding the identity of the killer in the comic, but the script and Goode make it impossible for us to not realize that it's Adrian. (Victoria, having never read the comic, figured it out about a minute after he was introduced.) We're also not really given a chance to root for him - we have to take him at his word that he's doing this for the good of the world. It was clear in the comic, at least, that he genuinely thought he was doing this for the good of the planet. Not so much in the movie. It would have helped if they had cast the movie's ostensible villain against type. (And by that I mean they should have appeared to type-cast him: someone pretty and/or typically heroic, a Jude Law kind of guy.)
- CGI-wise: Dr. Manhattan looked great when it was obvious that they were touching-up Billy Crudup himself. When it was a computer-generated Crudup - especially when he was talking - he looked distractingly awkward and awful.
- The lack of a consistent narrative focus bugged the hell out of me. In the comic, you can get away with having Rorschach narrate entire issues because you only have to maintain that perspective for the duration of a single issue. In the movie, it's distracting to be guided by Rorschach for one scene and then lose him entirely for the next 20 minutes. Either the film is being filtered through his diary or it isn't; either you're explicitly focusing each scene/episode through the perpective of one character (as Moore did, more or less, in the comic) or you're not - make up your mind and stick with it.
- The violence. I have no strong objection to how much more violent the movie is than the comic - the fights look appropriately cool, certainly. (The scene with the cleaver made me a bit queasy, though. But it had a practical purpose - if everyone is excessively violent, why would we ever question the lengths to which Rorschach goes? It would appear that the only option is to make Rorschach even more violent.) But it did confuse me - are we supposed to understand that the Watchmen do have super-strength?
- The pacing. I needed a break and I felt like I never got one. This is both a good and a bad thing - it felt shorter than it was, and it kep things exciting, but it felt rushed. Was there ever more than 5 seconds of silence in the film? It felt like Snyder couldn't possibly allow us time to decompress. And this applies in-scene as well as in the (non-existent) space in-between them. Adrian's reveal that the attack had happened 35 minutes earlier requires a certain dramatic pause in order to sink in, for it to register as truly horrific. Instead, it becomes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment. Have the screenwriters ever heard of a 'beat'?
- The decision to replace alien with Dr. Manhattan had me skeptical, initially. But seeing how compressed the story was even without that incredibly complicated element has me thinking that it was for the best.
Next up: Another superhero film from earlier this year that I wasn't able to see, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.