I've really come to enjoy this story. I read the graphic novel and was quite impressed by it, even though it does present very mature themes. I don't know that I'd recommend the movie to anyone, if you're interested in the story go for the graphic novel first. The movie doesn't integrate the sub-story "Tale of the Black Freighter" which adds a lot to the meaning of the main story; for this reason it's not as good as it could be. If you were to watch the edited version of the film (like we did) you will miss out on a lot of information. The novel is less explicit than the movie (as far as I can tell by reading the reasons why this is R) - the swearing is not as heavy, there isn't any explicit sex, but it is still rather violent/disturbing.
Moral Value - Failure to Communicate?
Overall message: Don't leave the saving of society to the "heroes." We may not have super heroes in our society today, but we do have politicians who believe they are super heroes. If we leave the correcting of society to those in power and do nothing ourselves, our society will end up like that in the Watchmen, quite terrifying. The saying came up quite frequently in the movie, and even more so in the graphic novel, if the Watchmen are keeping society in check, then who watches the Watchmen?
The character's, themselves, each embody different moral/amoral values that are worth paying attention to.
Ozymandias's plan is very similar to Satan's plan in the Pre-mortal existence, where Satan (then Lucifer) wanted to compel us (probably through fear) to be saved. Ozymandias, through a plan that created fear, united the world (though in reality only postponing it's utter destruction, not really changing the actual people).
Rorschach was a very violent, ruthless character, but he had certain strong moral principles which he never compromised, even at the expense of his own life. He didn't execute any mercy, just strict justice.
Some of Rorschach's dialog helps illustrate this character:
"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon. That's always been the difference between us, Daniel."
"You see, Doctor, God didn't kill that little girl. Fate didn't butcher her and destiny didn't feed her to those dogs. If God saw what any of us did that night he didn't seem to mind. From then on I knew... God doesn't make the world this way. We do. "
Dr. Manhattan was another interesting character in that he is presented as a god, and doesn't deny the possibility until he realizes how little he actually can predict what humanity will do (previously he thought he could predict anything and knew everything).
The most human like characters were Dan and Jupiter - and to me they were the least likable. They didn't seem to have any strong adherence to principles, but they weren't evil. They tried to stand up for what was right, but just had weaker characters and gave in to the more influential people rather than sacrifice their lives.