(+) Hitflix: "Zack Snyder's Watchmen is a profound work of art, a beautiful, deliriously weird, meditative spin on a genre that is as American as jazz."
(-) IGN Movies UK: "This movie is a shallow interpretation of Watchmen, shorn of sophistication or literary density. Worst of all, watching the film makes you wonder whether the source material was actually any good to begin with."
(+) CHUD: "A huge budgeted superhero movie that delivers intellectually? That takes serious, ballsy chances with the form? Why, that sounds like a piece of art. A glorious, epic, mind blowing piece of art."
So I know the ratio of positive : negative reviews is uneven, but whatever. I haven't read all of the early reviews, but out of the ones I have, most of the negative ones are pretty dumb. The main problem the negative critics seem to have is distinguishing between Watchmen as a graphic novel and as a movie. It's a fair topic to address, as the movie is an adaptation, but you have to draw a line somewhere and acknowledge that the story is being told in two different mediums. Certain things that work in the comic are not going to work in a movie, and there's even a good chance that the movie will do some things better than the comic. The positive reviews seem to understand this concept better and judge the movie as a film and not in comparison to the graphic novel.
There's been a lot of controversy about the changed ending. Not different exactly, as it sounds to me like it's the same basic premise with the same ideas behind it, but they simply changed the mechanism through which that premise is executed. In my opinion, the ending, the way it is in the graphic novel, would not have worked on film. I don't think any amount of special effects would have made the ending appear anything other than cheesy and ridiculous. I think it's similar to the ending of The Abyss, in that the whole movie is so suspenseful and just keeps building and building, only to have all that momentum disappear once that hokey giant alien thing rises from the ocean. It totally takes you out of the movie and causes your mind to wander about why the filmmakers allowed something so cheap looking to finish the movie. Basically, I think the same thing would have happened with Watchmen if they went with the exact same ending as the book. As long as the different ending is just as shocking and brutal than it will be the same in my mind.
Regardless, I'm so excited!