Went to see it at the Manchester IMAX this evening with the wife.
I read the trade paperback (it's not technically a "Graphic Novel" because it was first issued in parts) back when it was first released. I got it for Christmas this year and did re-read it, I have also read lots of blogs and reviews about the film. My wife, who also read it 20+ years ago had been avoiding trailers and Watchmen discussions.
Having said that neither the wife nor I are big comic fans, we might read a comic leant by a friend but almost never buy one ourselves.
So, the film: I liked it. I liked it a lot. So did the wife.
People said "it's too long": Sorry don't agree, there was one place where it felt a teeny bit slow, then it speeded up again. It did not feel like 2.5 hours.
People said "it should have been more like the comic": Nope, it was incredibly close anyway with sections and dialogue lifted wholesale, I don't think it could have sensibly been more like the comic. And, I'm going to commit comic heresy, I thought the film ending was more logical than the original. Though the comic is logical on its own terms. (They might have been talking about the sub-story with the boy reading the Pirate comic, I didn't even like it in the original comic; it would have been insane to add it, and lengthened the movie by at least 30 minutes.)
People said "it should have been less like the comic": It could have been but I don't think that would necessarily have made it better.
People said "You have to have read the comic to understand it": Difficult to answer, but my wife was happy with it. Thing is, you really have to pay attention, this is a film for thinking, it's not "just entertainment". There is a reason why it's in the NY Times Top 100 Books of the 20th Century.
People said "Dr Manhattan's doo-wangle hanging out all the time is distracting": This is important, because it isn't out "all the time" (in fact just a tiny fraction of the film) and the "distraction" actually says far more about the people writing these comments than the film.
People said "The watchmen seemed superheroic in the fights": Yes they were a bit, which is wrong as they were just ordinary people - except Dr Manhattan who is off the super scale. I can live with it.
People said "But they weren't really heroes": That is the point.
People said "the music should have been 80s not 60s": This is because they weren't listening to the words which was the reason for the choices. There was however one music choice that was just silly, though it could have been argued there was a deeper reason for the choice ... but it was just silly really.
All the acting is good, but Comedian and Rorschach are outstanding.
The visuals were stunning and modelled almost to perfection on the comic. Rorschach's mask was wonderful.
Would I recommend it? If you want a film that will make you think, then this is a good film to see, if you want to be a mere zombified spectator, don't bother.
What's on the turntable? Nuffink