I saw it last night. So here's...
A non-review of "Watchmen," by Zack Snyder, in 12 parts:
1. The movie is somehow really close to being excellent and simultaneously very, very far away from quality. That's kind of weird.
2. I thought the casting of Danny Bonaduce as Rorschach was provocative at first, but it turns out that he's the best part of the movie. Yes, this joke is terrible, but I couldn't resist. (I blame it on the wig.)
3. The opening credits sequence is really and truly the best part, and it's pretty great.
4. And the Oscar for "Worst Wigs in a Movie Ever. Seriously, Ever!" goes to..."Watchmen."
5. The deep focus and over-lighting make the movie look a lot like the comic but those wigs are really, really terrible.
6. I need to talk about the wigs some more. Maybe there's an in-story reason for the badness of the wigs. I mean, you'd think Adrian Veidt could afford a better rug and all, but Rorschach's a crazy person so he's off the hook. Sally Jupiter: she's old, and probably crazy as well, so maybe she just likes bad wigs. I don't know. Maybe hanging out with Dr. Manhattan did make all their hair fall out and part of the conspiracy is the let's-not-point-out-how-bad-everyone's-wigs-are thing that's going on in the movie.
7. Because the wigs are really bad. And the old age makeup doesn't work at all either.
8. Hollis Mason is cool. There should have been more of him. Note that they didn't go with old age makeup on him, they just cast two completely different actors for the young and old versions and, wow, it actually looks so much better that way.
9. The musican cues are as bad and cheesy as everyone says. At one point, "99 Luftballoons" kicks in, because it's the 80's I guess, and though I am a proponent of two things in movies (the use of "99 Luftballoons" whenever possible -- see "Nights, Boogie" for a great example -- and freeze-frame jumps to close things out -- see "Gordon, Flash" for a great example of that), Snyder throws in the Nena musical gem and then doesn't seem to know what to do with it so it just awkwardly fades out. Poor form, Mr. Snyder. Nena needs nourishment. Though if the movie ended with a freeze frame high-five between Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, it could have redeemed itself.
10. I really like Patrick Wilson.
11. One of the questions people had after seeing early clips from this movie was how well Zack Snyder can direct actors. The answer is pretty clear: he can't do it well at all. It's not that the performances were bad, it's that they were wildly inconsistent, with some actors hamming it up like crazy (like Max Headroom as Moloch -- though, really, what do you expect when you cast Max Headroom in a role?) and some actors playing it kind of straight and somewhat subtle (sort of). Part of the problem was that Alan Moore's dialogue doesn't work that well when spoken aloud, but part of it was that some actors seemed to think they were in "Mystery Men" (Carla Gugino), while others seemed to think they were in "The Big Chill" (Patrick Wilson). Matthew Goode didn't seem to know what movie he was in, but he knew that it was one that involved a lot of stylized movements and an ever-changing accent. His performance doesn't really work well at all.
12. Seeing the movie divorced from its comic book context made two things apparent: (a) there's really no in-story reason for the characters to wear costumes (with the exception of maybe Rorschach, who keeps screaming about his "face"), and while costumes seem perfectly natural in a superhero comic, they seem perfectly silly in a superhero movie, and that's hard to get past; (b) "Watchmen" is really a story about Batman vs. Superman. I never realized it before, because I was always reading it as a book about Charlton analogues, but the movie doesn't have that same context and so the movie becomes about the three aspects of Batman (the obsessed vigilante, Rorschach; the kind-hearted gadgeteer, Nite Owl; and the self-made fighting machine with a gazillion bucks, Ozymandias) in conflict with an ever-distant, alien Superman (Dr. Manhattan, obviously). As a Batman vs. Superman movie, "Watchmen" is pretty cool.
And a bonus #13: I actually liked "Watchmen," even with all of its flaws. It's an imperfect, not-even-close-to-a-masterpiece of artificiality. But I enjoyed it.