James Graham has posted a good, thoughtful review with which I am 99% in agreement here, so I won’t put myself to the trouble of writing anything similar. Instead, here are a few random thoughts.
1. For goodness sake, Jon, put some pants on. I know he’s naked for most of the graphic novel, but there’s… what… five frames that actually show proper full frontal nudity? In the film, it’s every five minutes.
2. Many films invite the use of a particular line as a one-line review. Watchmen, it occurred to me, does this in the form of Jon’s line “they’re making me into something gaudy”, which seemed to me curiously appropriate.
3. Several of the scenes seem to run on rather too long, mostly because the makers of the film are rather enjoying the song they’ve decided should accompany it.
4. Generally, the pacing is such that I’m not entirely sure if the film is too short or too long. If they had to cut a bunch of plot strands from the original, in an otherwise very faithful film, then couldn’t they have kept some of it by not being quite so self-indulgent? The titles take about ten minutes, for goodness sake.
5. Couldn’t the New Frontiersman have become just a regular newspaper or something? Is there really any point introducing it in the last minute of the film?
6. Despite the plot weirdnesses introduced by the changes, as James describes, I do rather like the new ending.
7. Chopping arms off. Grow up, folks. What, exactly, did that add?
8. Supposedly Terry Gilliam thought it would make a better miniseries. I think I’m inclined to agree with him. That way, you could have kept the sequence of examinations of each main character in an episodic format.
9. I quite like most of the actual acting and stuff.
9a. Rorschach doesn’t sound like that. Sorry.
10. Most of the film’s technical aspects are pretty good, too. The sound design and photography is lovely, and the set design remarkably faithful to the book.
11. It’s just a shame that the film’s writer and director clearly value gratuitous shock value over the character examination of the book.