Although originally published from 1986-87, the 12-volume comic Watchmen is still a jaw-dropping read in 2009. Set in an alternate history of the United States, its plot focuses on the impending nuclear war between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.
The comic, as well as the film, provides a back story for a group of costumed vigilantes, starting with their initial formation in the 1940s. Unfortunately, their exploits are put to an end by the "Keane Act," pushed by U.S. president Richard Nixon outlawing costumed heroes. Speeding up to 1985, the costumed vigilantes are in hiding for the most part, barely, if ever, fighting crime. Only Rorschach remains, unwilling to compromise with anyone.
Usually, when comparing a book and its movie adaptation, the book is better because it is more likely to give the reader an omnipresent, detailed story. Watchmen bucks this trend. The actors cast are very, very close-- if not perfect-- in looks as well as attitude to the characters portrayed in the book, adding to the movie's densely-packed homage to the graphic novel.
Although some plot detail is lost, the movie made up for it by presenting the same amount of violence and sex as in the book. In the comic, the reader can find a frame of a bullet actually entering and tearing muscle tissue. The movie does the same, not sugarcoating the violence. This reaffirms the comic's themes of how twisted humanity can become and how desensitized to everything people can be.
The special effects emphasize the feeling that the viewer is actually watching the comic as an animation, frame by frame, millisecond by millisecond. The brutality of the special effects only add to the movie's overall skill at emulating the comic.
The only problem with the movie relates to the inability for people unfamiliar with the comic book to understand the plot, but this is to be expected, however, as a book will always reveal more in its detailed text and presentation than squeezing too much detail into a film lasting less than three hours.