Watching the Watchmen

Although in my youth I read a lot of comics, I’d more or less given up by the time Watchmen appeared. Consequently the fuss passed me by; I was aware of it, I’m sure, but I never bought an issue. But now, never knowingly missing a bandwagon, I bought the graphic novel to read before I saw the film.

Naturally it sat unread along with all the other books I haven’t yet got round to, while I engaged in ritual procrastination activities. Eventually though it out-stared me and I picked it up. I read a chapter a night for a few days, enjoying it a lot. Then I missed a few days. Then it was Friday, and I was seeing the film the next day.

I read a chunk of the book on Friday evening, having a night in thanks to a persistent cough, but still had many chapters to go when I headed into town on Saturday morning. I took the book with me and read a chapter over lunch. Then, with three hours before the film, I parked myself in the Picturehouse bar with a pot of Earl Grey and made a concerted effort.

I turned the final page only an hour before the projector cranked up, and just as Chris and Melanie arrived.

Seeing the film just moments (well, minutes plus a cuppa) later was surreal. The images, fresh in my mind from the novel, were suddenly moving – and faithful to the original. Some shots were lifted straight from the page.

There are some liberties taken, of course, to fit the running time. I can’t say that any of the alterations are clunkers; some are improvements. A cunning title sequence in particular sets the scene for the film nicely, and a bit of helpful exposition about tachyons is brought forward significantly (that’ll be the, uh, tachyons). One big, small difference in the film: nobody smokes.

The, uh, stand-out character was always going to be Dr Manhattan due to his, uh, powers. He can subtract my intrinsic field any day. I have no idea what that means.


As a film about superheroes that isn’t a superhero film it’s very well done. As a film of a famous graphic novel it’s excellent.

Avaragado’s rating: one Mars bar


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