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Reviews of Watchmen have started to leak online, and the consensus thus far is the movie is extremely faithful to the graphic novel (with exception of the ending) and possibly to a fault. Most fans of the graphic novel seem to love the film, but some wonder if viewers who haven’t read the book might think. For example, Time Blogger Matt Selman says it was “one of the most powerful experiences” he’s “ever had” but later wonders if mainstream audiences will be “utterly baffled, bored, or totally love it?” and ter laasks the question “Is Watchmen even a good or bad movie?” Read excerpts from TEN reviews after the jump.

An Anonymous Reviewer on Hollywood Elsewhere: “Speaking as a huge admirer and devotee of the graphic novel, the film is a staggering failure. On the plus side, you’ve got a pretty literal adaptation of the source material. It is at times a meticulous and gorgeous recreation of Alan Moore’s original work. Unfortunately it’s an empty, inert, meandering and, yes, boring 2 hours and 45 minutes. Oh, and it’s horribly acted throughout.” … “Watchmen is just not much of a movie. It has no narrative pull and no characters to invest in. It uses rotely shoehorned-in action scenes, and has a sheen that doesn’t befit the dark material.”

Wil Wheaton: “It’s the best movie inspired by a graphic novel that I’ve ever seen.” … “Watchmen is faithful to the book. It respects the book. I swear by the beard of Zeus, it feels like the book. Yes, there are some cuts, but they serve the release and don’t disrupt or betray the narrative at all.” … “I can’t think of a better, more faithful, graphic novel adaptation, ever. Nothing else even comes close.”

Dr. Mabuse’s Kaleido-Scope: “Zach Snyder’s (“300″) attempt to adapt Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s “Watchmen” (1986-1987) is compromised but that is the only possible way an adaptation can work as a film.” … “Will die-hard fans be disappointed? No doubt, but quite unjustly. Even with Snyder’s compromised ending, which ultimately can be interpreted as being more devastating than the climax concocted by Moore and Gibbons (although the film lacks a sequence on par with the opening pages of the comic’s twelfth volume), Snyder’s ambitious attempt is the best that could be done in a feature film.” … “The film, while being as close to perfect an adaptation as I could have imagined, is not without its flaws. For the most part, the film and Snyder do a fantastic job of drawing out the background of the individual characters and the past of masked heroes in general very well (particularly during the film’s opening ten minutes and the beautifully executed credit sequence). However, the one character who seems to receive the short end of the narrative-stick is Nite Owl. Snyder establishes his background, but not to the degree that the backgrounds of Dr. Manhattan and the others benefit from. In addition, Malin Ackerman’s performance, while being far from bad, seemed to be the weakest out of the leads.” … “it is hard to tell if it will play as well to those who have yet to read the book. While I certainly felt every piece of it clicking, I have read the book numerous times. Snyder has made an adaptation that is as faithful and accessible as possible, a compromise that is ultimately successful.”

TIME blogger Matt Selman: “it is astounding how much of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel is in this movie.” … “one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had.” … “What will people who’ve never read Watchmen even think of this film? What will it be like for them to sit through these crazy, violent, colorful three hours and not recognize almost every line – almost every image? Will they be utterly baffled, bored, or totally love it? Is Watchmen even a good or bad movie?”

Ain’t It Cool News reader Ramses II: “Yes, it’s long but yes it’s extremely faithful to the graphic novel, to the point that the sex and violence is almost HARSHER than I remember it being in the comic.” … “a huge, beautiful, angry, dirty, faithful, sigh of relief of a film.”

Latino Review reader Bentley Mustafa: “I have to say Snyder knocked this one out of the park. There is some gruesome, brutal stuff here that is hard to watch. The fight scenes are awesome, and, like in 300, Snyder continues the use of ramping the frame rate to accentuate the movements of the characters. I knew there was going to be some slo-mo, but I didn’t think he overdid it. All in all, fans of the book are going to more than pleased with the film.”

Andrew Fenton on AdelaideNow: “It lives up to the hype, it’s faithful and doesn’t wimp out on any of the things you’d expect it might.” … “Given that people who haven’t read the graphic novel may go along thinking its a standard comic book movie, and will actually get a dark, exciting deconstruction of the very concept of super heroes, I do wonder how the general public will react.”

GeekTyrant: “a Watchmen fan’s wet dream.” … “I truly enjoyed every second of the film. It was two hours and forty-five minutes of balls out awesomeness. For me the movie didn’t feel that long at all, the time just flew by.” … “The action in the film was freakin breathtaking, the fight scenes were choreographed extremely well and brutal as all hell.” … “The acting in the film was marvelous!” … “I think fans of the graphic novel are going to appreciate the film more than those that have not read it yet”

DoorQ: “It’s fucking awesome.” … “[Watchmen] was considered too violent for mainstream audiences. Too dense. Too verbose. Snyder took that story…and he fucking nailed it.”

Wiswart on ePinions: “For those looking for a literal translation to film of the graphic novel, Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen” is not it, but it comes as close as a movie can for such a densely written comic book story. For those who know nothing of “Watchmen,” you’re in for a cinematic treat unlike anything else! ” … “More than anything else, that’s what “Watchmen” is; it is real. “Watchmen” is a chance to escape into an alternate world that is completely convincing and wonderful in ways that too few films take the time to create and then develop. Zack Snyder does with “Watchmen” and it is the amazing cinematic achievement we have been waiting for . . . since, well, “The Dark Knight!” ”

(Thanks to /Film reader Dan for some of the links)

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