I saw Watchmen on opening night, March 6, 2009, with a bunch of my friends, comics fans all, some familiar with the graphic novel and some not. We planned for several weeks to get together on opening night and see Watchmen at the IMAX theater in the Hamilton AMC 24 here in New Jersey. This evening was meticulously planned. Order tickets online a week or more early, get out of work on time, go out for dinner early, get to the theater early to wait in line, get in as early as possible in order to get the choice seats. Everything worked and we all had great seats in the second to last row right in the middle. I'm glad we planned because it looked to me like the showing sold out.
There were some trailers. Harry Potter 6. Transformers 2. Star Trek. Night at the Museum 2.
Some of my friends and I had seen the first 18 minutes of Watchmen at a preview screening at New York Comic Con a month earlier, so some of what was to come was familiar.
The movie started and the audience was reduced to a hushed silence. The IMAX production was flawless. Crystal clear visuals and LARGE. The sound was exceptional. Great directional effects, heavy duty lower frequencies that did not distort. You could hear every sound but it wasn't deafening. I was also glad to see that this was one of the best behaved audiences in recent memory.
Watchmen ran approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. I was riveted and did not look at my watch once. I'm usually the first to nod off during evening showings but even after a long week of work, I was focused on the flick and barely moved the entire time.
The opening montage was so fabulous. I experienced the sense of wonder of this sequence at Comic Con. If you have not seen it yet and you enjoyed the graphic novel, you have a real treat coming.
The characters have not suffered going from the comics to the big screen. There have been some minor costume changes with some (Nite Owl II) and most are spot on (Dr. Manhattan, Rorschach, The Comedian). Rorschach was most definitely done so well. I had to gasp when I saw the face of Walter Kovacs for the first time. It is amazingly accurate. You won't know that you are looking at Jackie Earle Haley.
There were so many great moments in the film that I can't possibly detail them all here. I also don't want to so that those of you who haven't seen it yet won't have the surprises spoiled.
The bottom line is that Watchmen turned out very well. As a fan of the comics, as a person who read the original issues 22-23 years ago, as an Alan Moore fan, I was very, very pleased with the film. I had faith in director Zack Snyder and I knew he wouldn't let us down.
I am looking forward to the Tales of the Black Freighter DVD and to the DVD release of the Watchmen film, which is rumored to include the Black Freighter animation edited back in. I am also watching the Motion Comics Blu-ray right now, so I will be back with a review of both that and Black Freighter.
I will probably be going back to see the movie at least one more time before the DVD release, so I might have more to say later.
To those of you that supported the opening weekend, thank you. Watchmen did nearly $25 million on Friday alone, and that was the second highest opening in history, behind Zack Snyder's own 300. If Watchmen continues to be as popular as predicted, it should have an approximate $60 million opening weekend.
23 years of waiting for Watchmen ends here, and it's a weird feeling. It's nice to have Watchmen reproduced for film so well by a director that really cares about the work of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and the Watchmen property and fans. But, it's a little unsettling to know that Watchmen will no longer be thought of as the "unfilmable graphic novel."