Metascore
56

Mixed or average reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 39
  2. Negative: 6 out of 39
  1. Part conscious and part unconscious, Watchmen tells us of a world without hope and then makes us wonder if we're already living in it.
  2. 50
    Watchmen is indeed gorgeous, with Gibbons' original work reproduced and – in some cases – improved upon by detailed F/X, but even at a healthy two hours and 41 minutes the story feels truncated. Even abrupt.
  3. The casting clicks; the visuals have leaped right out of Dave Gibbons' original panels; the action is brutal, stylish and well-staged, and -- with most of the major characters, themes and symbolism are retained in an abbreviated form -- the 2 1/2-hour film makes an enjoyably esoteric Cliff's Notes version of the book.
  4. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    80
    Watchmen has moments of greatness. It proves again that the action movie is where the best young Hollywood brains have gone to bring flesh to their fantasies.
  5. 50
    Watchmen is neither desecratory disaster nor total triumph. In filming David Hayter and Alex Tse's adaptation of the most ambitious superhero comic book ever written, director Zack Snyder has managed to address the cult while pandering to the masses.
  6. 75
    Snyder's Watchmen keeps moving so assuredly, it's nearly impossible not to get swept along.
  7. Snyder and writers David Hayter and Alex Tse never find a reason for those unfamiliar with the graphic novel to care about any of this nonsense. And it is nonsense.
  8. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    40
    The director recycles some of the better effects from his gladiator epic "300"...and he's being so faithful to the work of comics artist Dave Gibbons that he might as well have used the graphic novel's illustrations as a storyboard.
  9. 100
    It's a compelling visceral film -- sound, images and characters combined into a decidedly odd visual experience that evokes the feel of a graphic novel. It seems charged from within by its power as a fable; we sense it’s not interested in a plot so much as with the dilemma of functioning in a world losing hope.
  10. Reviewed by: Patrick Parker
    100
    The whole thing works, especially for the non-comic audience. Plus, the music is perfect, especially the opening montage set to Bob Dylan's, "The Times They Are a-Changin."
  11. 100
    Director Zack Snyder's cerebral, scintillating follow-up to "300" seems, to even a weary filmgoer's eye, as fresh and magnificent in sound and vision as "2001" must have seemed in 1968, yet in its eagerness to argue with itself, it resembles "A Clockwork Orange."
  12. 75
    Watchmen is a spectacularly violent movie.
  13. This movie will shake your windows and rattle your walls.
  14. Reviewed by: Cammila Albertson
    75
    It may not include every nuance of the graphic novel, but it captures as much as any adaptation could -- which may not satisfy the fanboys, but it's probably more than enough for everyone else.
  15. Like the writings of William Burroughs or Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction," Watchmen falls into the category of what might be called meta-pulp, a multilayered fiction that serves as a parody and commentary on our collective bottom-feeding fantasies.
  16. Watchmen is a fitting tribute to Alan Moore's fascinating graphic novel, even if he refused to let his name be used in the credits.
  17. 63
    Stumbles and sometimes falls on its top-heavy ambitions. But there are also flashes of visual brilliance and performances, especially from Haley and Crudup, that drill deep into the novel's haunted soul.
  18. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    63
    The best moments in Watchmen, then, work as delirious music-videos.
  19. 63
    For the Watchmen fan, this may be as close to the Holy Grail as a motion picture could come. For everyone else, a sense of frustration and disappointment is not unwarranted. Watchmen is many things but it is not the Next Great Comic Book Movie or the film that will advance graphic novel adaptations to the next level.
  20. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    50
    In the canon of comic-book movies, it's not as campy bad as the "Batman" starring George Clooney, but nowhere near the caliber of the Spider-Man movies or "The Dark Knight." It may have more style, but it's only a jot more entertaining than "Catwoman."
  21. The appeal of the film version, such as it is, relates almost entirely to eye-for-an-eye, severed-limb-for-a-limb vengeance, two hours and 41 minutes of it, with just enough solemnity to make anyone who thought "The Dark Knight" was a little gassy think twice about which superhero myth THEY'RE calling gassy.
  22. 38
    The film's storytelling and image-making lack originality and vitality. Nothing sticks to your memory unless you come in with recollections of the book.
  23. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    80
    Okay, it isn't the graphic novel, but Zack Snyder clearly gives a toss, creating a smart, stylish, decent adaptation, if low on accessibility for the non-convert.
  24. The most pleasant surprise in the movie adaptation of "Watchmen" is the pop-art fusion set off by placing superheroes in a "real" world. The film's biggest challenge – and accomplishment – was making that plausible.
  25. 50
    Watchmen is worth seeing, fan or no, for Haley's squirmy presence alone, and all the other characters are also well-served.
  26. 75
    The 155 minutes of Watchmen are studded with inspired spectacles: fights and flights and imaginary creatures and reworked bits of history.
  27. Even Watchmen fanatics may be doomed to a disappointment that results from trying to stay THIS faithful to a comic book.
  28. 100
    A terrific comic-book movie, the most completely satisfying and unsettling one I've ever seen.
  29. Snyder stands revealed here as more of a beginner than a visionary in his uncertain approach to making an on-screen world come alive.
  30. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    50
    Watchmen fans wondering whether their graphic novel has been ruined will be thrilled to see its key scenes reproduced with storyboardlike fidelity, but those who've never read it will be unlikely to understand what the big deal was in the first place.
  31. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    50
    The movie is ultimately undone by its own reverence; there's simply no room for these characters and stories to breathe of their own accord, and even the most fastidiously replicated scenes can feel glib and truncated.
  32. Watchmen is a bore. Sad to say, after a wait of more than two decades, the much-anticipated adaptation of the world's most celebrated graphic novel is long, dull and subject to what might be called the "Lord of the Rings" problem: It sinks under the weight of its reverence for the original.
  33. 40
    As it is, the film is more curiosity than provocation, an artifact of a faded world brought to zombie half-life by the cinematic technology of the present.
  34. Reviewed by: Devin Gordon
    40
    Speaking as an admirer, but not an apostle, of the graphic novel, I thought the Watchmen movie was confusing, maddeningly inconsistent and fighting a long, losing battle to establish an identity of its own.
  35. Reviewed by: Noah Berlatsky
    40
    Director Zack Snyder races through the story, faithfully reproducing this bit of dialogue from Moore and that bit of imagery from Gibbons but never pausing to develop a vision of his own. The result is oddly hollow and disjointed; the actors moving stiffly from one overdetermined tableau to another.
  36. This kind of reverence kills what it seeks to preserve. The movie is embalmed.
  37. Elegance isn't Zack Snyder's bag; a certain sort of impact is. Watchmen establishes him as Hollywood's reigning master of psychic suffocation.
  38. 20
    The problem is that Snyder, following Moore, is so insanely aroused by the look of vengeance, and by the stylized application of physical power, that the film ends up twice as fascistic as the forces it wishes to lampoon.
  39. Although the film's visuals are a cut above, say, "Sin City," another serioso graphic novel-turned-movie, it has the same mood: a film-noir-ish soddenness punctuated by megaviolence. Watchmen is the anti-"Incredibles."
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 1199 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Mar 17, 2011
    10
    A fantastic film. The story, the setting, the characters, everything works perfectly to create this dark alternate reality. Zach Snyder has done it again, creating another beautiful world for another great film. Full Review »
  2. Sep 21, 2011
    8
    Zack Snyder's "Watchmen" has it all; the dark tone/environment, insanely deep characters, powerful action, and profround ideas. It's very obedient to the comic and serves its purpose as a translator of modern heroes and what they represent to the society. Full Review »
  3. CollinP.
    Mar 8, 2009
    8
    I have to respectfully disagree with someone's assessment below regarding the movies "gratuitous sexual scenes and nudity". The Dr. Manhattan "penis" shots were not gratuitous by any means, they were simply shots of him walking around. Hardly sexual, merely biologically natural. Secondly, the sex scenes involving Silk Spectre were far from gratuitous, they were side shot intercourse scenes with limited nudity, and nothing more than stylized sexual thrusting. Finally, I'm much more disturbed by the fact that this bothered you more than the excessive gory violence that occurred throughout this movie. I mean, limbs getting cut off, heads getting impaled. I would much rather that my child saw a little nudity and some sex scenes (which are natural human qualities and biological functions), than disgusting nihilistic violence (which is not a natural human function, and only breads hate and desensitization to the movie-watching crowd). The American public has it all wrong. While we should make sure that our children are indeed protected from adult sexual material, we should be much more concerned with the graphic violence that has permeated our culture and allowed people to grow sadly tolerant of it. That being said, the movie was indeed a faithful, wonderful adaptation of the novel, with only a few points lacking (i.e., the depth of some of the characters was never realized). I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning montage as well, it was quite a spectacle to behold! Full Review »