The first major studio release of the year, and the first major comic-book movie since Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight comes with a lot of hype, and (perhaps unfairly) bears the expectations of the two decades that have passed since Moore and Gibbons first published their deconstruction of the modern superhero.
The film spans the investigation by a determined costumed outlawed hero, and his former associates, into the murder of a lonely old man watching TV in a decrepit apartment that opens the movie. This eventually reveals a wider conspiracy to kill millions, using information from studies on the one being in the movie with actual superpowers, in order to save billions.
Everyone who sees this movie is going to fall into one of two groups - those who have read the original graphic novel (GN) and those who have not. Falling into the latter makes it all the harder to review the movie. The plot has depth, intrigue and involves several major swerves. The characters are well fleshed out, and have a strong interconnnecting backstory (which is explored in the form of several flashbacks), and their numerous flaws contrast strongly with the moralistic superheroes of the time in which the original novel came out. Indeed, it is their flaws, from Silk Spectre's revelation that she couldn't let her mother down, to Dan Dreiberg's impotence as a civilian, that make them all the more believeable. However it was the extras from the GN that made that world seem more real. While I accept that certain scenes had to be trimmed or removed completely to make the film easier to watch, and to keep it under three hours, some of the choices detracted from the story. One in particular gives a far clearer explanation into why The Comedian was beaten to death in a brutal fight, rather than killed instantly with a simple bullet.
Listening to the feedback from some of those in the former category confirmed that the plot does work well as a movie, which came as relief to me. Knowing what scenes were missing, and the extra (vital?) clues they gave to the characters motivation proved frustrating.
I have no real quarrel with any of the casting choices, although I felt that Sally Jupiter needed more screen time to explain the complicated relationship between herself and The Comedian, and why she wanted to keep her daughter away from him. Again, longer flashbacks, especially the first meeting of the Crimebusters, would have improved this, but would have added greatly to the running time.
The soundtrack fitted the film well, taking its cues from the numerous Dylan references in the GN and adding contemporary music from the mid-80's, although the choice of "Hallelujah" as the soundtrack to a love scene is a little unsettling.
While the ending has been changed, as well as the implied murderer of millions, the theme of it remains the same, and it's hard to argue with that.
On some level, there is always going to be a demand for the definitive filmed version of this great work, and Moore himself has stated that it is simply "unfilmable", any director would be hard pressed to improve on Snyder's implementation.