Last night, I went to the midnight showing for "The Watchmen" and I walked away very impressed with the job director Zach Snyder did with bringing the "unfilmable" comic book story to life, but I do have some suggestions for people who intend to go see it just so they know what they are in for.
The first thing you ought to know about Watchmen is the graphic novel. No, seriously. Read it. I can't stress this enough. The film does not spend a whole lot of time building familiarity with the characters or the atmosphere so you will feel much more connected to the movie if you are familiar with the characters in it. For this I whole-heartedly suggest you go read the graphic novel, or for those of you dead-set on seeing it tonight, getting a very abridged version through several bits of background teasers at the very least online. Without any background information, you will find yourself in a long movie (more on that later) that moves slowly (more on this as well) so please heed my advice and don't ruin a great story by going to see the movie unprepared.
The second thing you ought to know about Watchmen is that it is absolutely NOT for the kiddies and it takes the "R" rating to the fullest here. Blood, sex, and violence can be found in copious amounts here so be very mindful to not bring impressionable young minds to the theaters unless you are absolutely certain that they will not need therapy afterwards. Seriously people. We are talking severed limbs, a very naked blue man, and a few action sequences that involve bones breaking through skin. Not one for the kids. Not even close.
The third thing you ought to know about Watchmen is that, contrary to the ad campaign, the story moves along slowly, but surely. For those who read the graphic novel, you will feel right at home because it unfolds very similarly, but for those of you who haven't (READ THE FIRST POINT AGAIN), this movie will feel like it is 4 hours long and you have scratched your head through most of it. Now, it is not actually that long (it clocks in at just under 3 hours), but it will feel that way so be prepared. It is not the Dark Knight. You will not be on the edge of your seat for the entirety, or even the great majority of it. Think of it as "The Godfather" as far as pacing is concerned.
The fourth thing you ought to know is that there is a high level of paranoia that is meant to be felt in this film that isn't built up because it assumes that you know all about it. The graphic novel has a subplot in it that builds the tension of the Cold War circa an alternate 1985 that isn't found in the film, but will be touched on when the DVD is released. The film touches on this paranoia a little bit, but it just doesn't reach the level that it does in the graphic novel without the right anticipation. Again, READ THE GRAPHIC NOVEL.
The fifth and final thing you out to know about Watchmen is THE GRAPHIC NOVEL. I seriously cannot stress this enough. It is the only graphic novel on Time's Top 100 novels of all time and it very much deserves the praise. I read it last semester and I cannot say enough about how great it was. Every character is brilliantly touched on. Every bit of background in the story is fully explained. There is so much detail and depth to the graphic novel that just will not be found in the film unless you are already aware of it. Do yourself a favor. Don't ruin a great story for yourself. Read the graphic novel first. You'll be glad you did.