It is as good as it can be without being a trilogy of shorter movies, which is what it really should have been. Watchmen the graphic novel is divided into 12 chapters. Four chapters per movie, three movies total, would have given them time and space enough to do it justice, to tell the whole story rather than simply service the story’s plot. But as one 2 hour and 45 minute movie, it did as much as it could do with 2 hours and 45 minutes, and that is to say that it is a shadow of the graphic novel. Not a whispy weak shadow; a deep, dark shadow with well-defined edges, but a shadow all the same. Many of my favorite moments in the book were lost, and certainly the majority of its poetry. Some deviations were annoying, but few were infuriating. Even the squidless end did not piss me off as much as I thought it would because I understand why they had to change it: the originally ending would have taken too long to set up. But that is how I watched it: analytically, almost bored. Understanding rather than enjoying. I will take some of the blame, but I think for anyone who knows the novel, that’s all you could really do because it certainly doesn’t add much to Moore’s creation.
That said, it is pretty, and the moments that go beyond the graphic novel without betraying the graphic novel work pretty well, namely the extended action sequences. If they could have balanced these scenes with the complex mystery of the novel, the menagerie of backstories, and the complicated conversation being had about the subjectivity of morality, I think I would have really enjoyed it, even though I would have been in the theater for seven hours. I think this is a negative reveiw. I think I wish they hadn’t made it, except now I hope more people will read the original and realize how much is lost in translation. If you want to see a decent action movie–not great, but decent–go for it. If you want to add to your experience of reading the Watchmen, then reread it.