Box art for Watchmen


action & adventure, drama

When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the outlawed but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
4 out of 5
5 out of 5
4 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5

Not a superhero movie; a dark, gory, complex morality tale.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this non-animated adaptation of the beloved cult graphic novel isn't just another superhero story and is absolutely not for kids. Even the director has said that he purposely made the movie intensely gory to make a point about the consequences of violent behavior. Sex is paired with graphic violence in a near-rape scene, and characters act in ways that seem highly amoral. They also swear constantly (including "f--k" and "s--t"), smoke, and drink. There's plenty of nudity, with some very graphic sex scenes and a computer-enhanced character who walks around nude (sure, he's blue, but he still has a normal male anatomy). Both the novel and the movie examine complex issues of morality, humankind's basic nature, and the specter of nuclear holocaust. Not light stuff, and certainly not for anyone who expects a simple good vs. evil story. If your teens can tackle heavy philosophical questions, they might be mature enough to make sense of the film's complicated plot. Finally, the movie clocks in at 2 hours 41 minutes most of which are chock full of in-your-face violence, darkness, and peril.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the movie's portrayal of human nature. Are people good? Bad? All of the above?
  • If your teens have read the book, ask them how the movie is different -- and what impact having real people in the roles has on the story.
  • According to director Zack Snyder in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, "I wanted to make sure everyone understood: This is not a kid movie. Violence has consequences. And doing that with a PG-13 just dilutes that message." Do you agree? Does the violence in this movie have more impact because it's not illustrated?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

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    reviews counted: 1
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Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: This movie will shake your windows and rattle your walls. At least it will for a couple of hours, before 40-odd minutes of draggy, comic-book exposition smother the wild, subversive superhero business that came before.

- Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer, Thursday, March 5, 2009

Audience Reviews

3 stars

img]] After being in development hell for more or less a generation, a time span that infamously featured heap's of failed projects from various directors, and the prediction that an adaptation of Watchmen was unfilmable, it finally got made. The great film director Terry Gilliam is even quoted as saying that "Reducing the story] to a two or two-and-a-half hour film ...] seemed to me to take away the essence of what Watchmen is about". He is absolutely right when it comes to the movie's relation to the comic. Watchmen is undoubtedly one of the most difficult films you could possibly attempt to review. In the same way that the graphic novel is difficult to adapt into a film, taking the film apart and analysing it is a difficult process. Although I haven't read the graphic novel I know that the original radical ending has been changed by director Zack Snyder for cinematic purposes and that the source material has been acclaimed as an incredibly profound, classic, significant piece of comic book literature. But on that knowledge alone, I will do my best to make a full judgement on it as a piece of film making and also partly on the level of it's accuracy to it's inspiration. I will start with the down side. Firstly the strangely and consistently differing tone throughout the film, for me suggested that there was a lot of trouble trying to recreate the complexities of Alan Moore's novel and capture the darkness of it's atmosphere, and then put it onto a screen. An example of that is the numerous musical segements and exciting yet contradictory directorial shots. At one point it actually felt kind of light-hearted. But then out of nowhere it decides to throw violence and slow motion sex seqeunces at us. It decidedly takes advantage of the 18 certificate it's been given, but uses it to not much use other than because it can. Without any political reason behind it like the original graphic novel. Contexually it runs astray, and does so to not much effect. It never really gets a grip on the metaphors and ideas of it's source material because of Zack Snyder's main target, to blow us away with a visually stylish, colourful, haunting assault on all the senses. It's a shame how it boasts none of the depth of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. However with all of that comes many reasons why you could call this adaptation extraordinary, and uncontrollably faithful. The inherited comic book plotting structure, unrestrained bloody violence, characters, visuals, artistic senibilities, all stand firmly in the film as they did in the comic. There may be nothing more than a small amount of political substance, but on every other level, the unspeakably long-awaited movie adaptation of Watchmen is an ambitious saga that never manages to get everything from the comic book onto the screen but is in the end a pure, badass, corporately untouched, ruthlessly violent, character driven, visually arresting phenomenon of a film. All over the place but undeniably cool, it's Zack Snyder's most creative film and his only rewarding directing achievement to date. It's also the film that it want's to be, and avoids the mainstream tastes to it's benefit. I seriously admire it for that. If not a film that really makes you think about the state of the world, Watchmen is a very under rated, admirable mess.

- aquateen2, Monday, September 10, 2012

4 stars

Visually dark and graphic as the novel it's adapted from. Snyder envisioning sensation may not be satisfying to those who have to little to no knowledge of Alan Moore's graphic novel. But it does make up with the stunning visual effects and complex landscape of the 1960s. 4/5

- fb1442511448, Friday, July 27, 2012

3 stars

As a voracious reader and a fan of the source material which was Watchmen, the greatest comic book (and I do mean comic book, not graphic novel) to gain critical and commercial success, I was rearing to go on this adaptation. I had already heard a bleak prognosis for this film, but I still wasn't disappointed in too many ways. Zack Snyder, who is really most famous for visually compromised films such as 300 and Sucker Punch, took on Watchmen with a lot more care than I can give credit for. He didn't write the script, but you can tell he had a vital hand in the production, costuming, and the direction reaks of him. If I had to say Watchmen suffers from anything it is its faithless keeping with the novel. Every backstory of the heroes, every moment of the plot that actually needs telling, was included in this. It's nothing but a faithless adaptation in so many ways and really makes the characters pop onscreen. What's bad about being faithless, is that it takes almost an hour and a half to fit every backstory into the film and still you have an entire evil scheme to unearth along the way. Not just that but the decidedly gritty and morose tone of the book seems lost among the superhero bullshit that inevitably comes with big budget films. The violence in Watchmen wasn't there to entertain the reader, but show the state of human nature and the evils of society. Here it's almost glorified ad nauseum, especially that of Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II. Plus, the ending is completely changed, probably to satiate a wide audience, and some key scenes are warped, which I don't truly care about but it makes no sense to change them. The casting was decent, especially that of Rorschach, The Comedian, and Dan Dreiberg. Some choices annoyed or even irritated me, but every person chosen was great as their alter ego and didn't take away anything...well, maybe the sex scene did as it was so intentionally graphic that I openly laughed at the absurdity. Really, it's more funny than anything, and probably that's not a positive in lieu of the circumstances. It was also unmercifully long and drawn out with the backstories taking up a good chunk of the film, which I understand because you need that buildup for the characters; to feel for them to the bitter end, but because they changed the ending and the true poignancy of a hero's sacrifice, it feels hollow. Much of this is hollow to some extent since some very important and eye grabbing visual choices of the book weren't included. The writer of the book, Alan Moore, has said that Watchmen is unfilmmable and won't watch the adaptation. I suppose I don't wholeheartedly agree with that, but if you're going to do Watchmen, you have to have more than just a moody visual milieu and intense violence. You must think about questioning your entire moral code, and what would happen if you lost it. I wish the film had addressed the actual message behind this instead of making it commercial. There was just too much compromise with this and not enough understanding, and that saddens me.

- FrizzDrop, Thursday, April 12, 2012