Just last week I decided to sit down and read the graphic novel by Alan Moore. I am now kicking myself for not having read it before seeing the film. However, I did see the film again after I was finished with the novel and it did make a difference. Alan Moore said Watchmen was unfilmable and I agree in a sense that it deals with elements that cannot be translated well to the big screen.
Filmmaker Terry Gilliam also said that Watchmen would be impossible to translate to the big screen. He planned on doing a series on it. When reading the novel, I felt that is was more richer than the film. Ozymandias had more of a presence and
Zack Snyder took on a brave decision when choosing to film Watchmen. Watchmen was a film that no matter what it did, it was going to disappoint fans. He faced the challenge: How do you adapt the most acclaimed graphic novel of all time onto the screen while making it mainstream enough for audiences to fully understand it all all the while staying as faithful as you can to the source material? Well the answer to the question at hand is you can't. Snyder was screwed either way.
There are many films that are adapted from books where it does indeed stray from the source material. However, the problem that some critics are pointing out with Watchmen is that it is TOO faithful. This poses a problem for Joe Shmoe audience member who walks into the movies having never heard of the graphic novel and expects a film like The Dark Knight. This very well could contribute to its large decrease in box office intake during it's first week.
At the same time though, you are faced with pleasing the fans of the graphic novel. In that sense Snyder did a fantastic job of translating the source material. The fans did not want to see Snyder's interpretation or anyone else's for that matter. They came to see Alan Moore's book. However, there HAD to be adjustments made. The ending of the book dealt with a giant squid. In an interesting podcast between both the writers: & David Hayter, Hayter explains that there are just o many fantastical elements an audience can withstand. Had the squid been included in the film, I bet there would be quite a few walkouts of the theater when it would come to the part in the film. The changes Hayter made when adapting the novel fit the film well.
Still, the whole Tales From the Black Freighter was cut out along with Hollis Mason's story arc. Not to mention the explanation behind Bubastis, that one creature that belongs to Ozymandias that sparked a reaction in one of the audience members in my audience to say "What the hell is that thing?" Again, if Snyder had included the exaplanation behind it along with Hollis Mason and the Black Freighter, the film would have clocked in at 3 hours and 40 min. Given the short attention span of several audiences these days, this would have been a death spell on marketability to mainstream audiences.
However, for all the fans that are bitching and moaning about how they left that stuff out, you're going to get your 3 hrs. 40 min. Ultimate Director's Cut Edition.