Mark Kermode read Watchmen in his 20s (although he mistakenly had thought it was in his teens) and found it incredibly important and politically interesting, though he did add that this echoed something Melvyn Bragg had said, which was that the age you are when you encounter a work affects how you think of it. Nevertheless, he was excited by the idea of an adaptation - not least because it had previously been linked with two of his directing heroes, Terry Gilliam and Paul Greengrass.
Gilliam had originally looked at it and decided that it would probably work best as a TV mini-series. He then asked Moore how he would go about making it; Moore replied, "I wouldn't."
After finding success with United 93, Greengrass was then given the chance to make it as a film - and indeed spoke to both Mark and Simon live on 5 Live while on set. However, the project ended up falling through.
Thus, it ultimately ended up in the hands of a man whose primary cinematic contribution up until that point was to invent fast zombies.
Mark was scathing about the final film - although he did appreciate that Snyder was demonstrably in love with the source material, Snyder's inability to impart depth below shiny surfaces utterly torpedoed the movie. Snyder clearly respected the work enormously - but equally clearly had no idea what it was actually about. This had been the case with 300, where other critics had argued that the film was about Iraq, or Iran, or fascism, and it had actually been about "men in oil shouting at each other." Snyder recreated many of the scenes from the comic with absolute precision, but transparently had no understanding of why those scenes were there in the first place.
The middle hour, in which everyone stands around explaining the plot to each other, is particularly boring.
What wasn't pointed out by Mark is that the film also completely misses the main argument of Watchmen, which is that the people of the world can only come together when faced with an external threat, even if that threat has to be artificially manufactured. This is the entire point of the book, yet removing it was strangely was the one major change that Snyder made in the screen translation.
Nigel Floyd incidentally described the film as "the Brodie's Notes of 20th Century culture," a phrase Mark loved.
Simon incidentally misunderstood Mark's phrase that "the director is in love with the source," thinking he had meant "sauce", and that Snyder enjoyed a state of refreshment.