Early reviews mixed for "Watchmen"

Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:22pm EST
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By Douglas MacLaurin and Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The $120 million comic book adaptation "Watchmen," one of 2009's most eagerly awaited films, has had its world premiere in London, and reviews on Tuesday generally cast the movie as classy but no classic.

The red carpet launch late on Monday of the special effects-laden action thriller is the culmination of years of to-ing and fro-ing over scripts, budgets and, finally, a legal dispute between rival Hollywood studios.

Directed by Zack Snyder, whose "300" was a box office winner in 2007, Watchmen is based on a 1986 comic book series of the same name written by Briton Alan Moore and illustrated by compatriot Dave Gibbons.

Critics gave it mixed reviews, with several predicting approval from the hardcore comic book fan fraternity.

How it plays to a wider audience, however, will be more important to its commercial prospects.

"For those just watching Watchmen for the Watchmen, without any expectations or knowledge of the comic's storyline or historical importance, this really will be a blast," wrote Mike Ragogna in the internet newspaper The Huffington Post.

But Robbie Collin, of Britain's top-selling tabloid weekly News of the World, disagreed:

"This two-and-a-half-hour wannabe pop culture epic isn't the worst superhero movie ever made ... But it is one of the most spirit-crushingly disappointing," he said.   Continued...

<p>Eric Tetangco, of Los Angeles, arrives dressed as Rorschach from comic Watchmen during the 39th annual Comic Con Convention in San Diego July 24, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>