November 7, 2009

The Ultimate Cut Watchmen.jpg

This Tuesday, Warner Bros. is releasing the “ultimate cut” of “Watchmen,” a 5-disc box set intended to do the graphic novel justice–something that writer Alan Moore would be (but still isn’t) proud of.  The feature included is an hour longer than the theatrical release, and there are plenty of bonuses to be seen.  Go through it all with me, one disc at a time, after the jump.

Disc One: The “Ultimate” Cut

watchmen_ultimate_cut_dvd_specs_box_art_01.jpgI’m among the select group of people who loved both the graphic novel and Zack Snyder’s film “Watchmen” when it released in March.  And though I agree the book trumps the film, I am a tremendous fan of both for different reasons.

Thus as expected, this “ultimate cut” of the film is pretty special for a fanboy like myself. It’s the director’s cut of the film with all the side stories thrown back in and the animated complementary piece, “Tales of the Black Freighter” voiced by Gerard Butler, interwoven into the story quite smoothly. In terms of being the cinematic equivalent of the comic, it’s as close as anyone will ever get.  I really recommend a viewing for die-hard fans of the graphic novel.

Unfortunately, it’s 3-hour-and-35-minute runtime prevents me from really recommending it to anyone else.  This film is long.  Moreover, its pacing suffers from its unwieldiness (though not as much as one might expect), and, to be frank, I didn’t like the “Tales of the Black Freighter” sequences–the animation seemed stiff and needlessly grotesque.  Then again, I didn’t like the “Black Freighter” sequences in the graphic novel either, so maybe that lends to its authenticity.

Suffice it to say, if you love the comic and the film, this is the definitive cut. And if you’re not a die-hard fan of both, steer clear.

Disc Two: Bonus Featurettes

I’m not a big fan of featurettes to begin with–I find that they don’t contribute to my appreciation of a film whatsoever–but I really didn’t like the inclusion of these featurettes specifically.  Each one is over 30 minutes, detailing some aspect of the production or another.  One goes on about the legacy of the novel, which is silly since any fan big enough to buy the ultimate cut would already be more than familiar with the novel.  Another talks about the books within the book, namely “Tales of the Black Freighter” and “Under the Hood”–once again, we’re already familiar.

watchmen_movie_image_jackie_earle_haley_as_rorschach_.jpgThe only bonus I was really looking forward to was the “Under the Hood” feature, a pseudo-documentary about Hollis Mason’s autobiography made as a companion piece to “Black Freighter” when it released on DVD.  I was sadly disappointed.  The feature, as one might expect, is mostly back story about the Minuteman, and is only useful if you’re not already familiar with who they are.  It also interacts with the film by introducing characters, Big Figure and Rorschach’s psychoanalyst among them, in a cheesy, wink-wink-nudge-nudge fashion.  Plus, it’s really just boring.

For my money, this disc could’ve been left off altogether.

Disc Three: Digital Copy of Theatrical Version

I’m glad they included this, because it’s nice to have to original release to compare the ultimate cut to.  Besides that, though I enjoyed the full 3 1/2 hour feature, I know most of my friends won’t, so if I’m entertaining, I’d rather throw this on.  Unfortunately, it’s a digital copy, not a DVD, which means if anyone wants to watch it, they’re checking it out on my iTunes. Unless you have an Apple TV, this limitation kinda sucks. I personally would’ve preferred a DVD copy of the theatrical version, but I guess that wasn’t not tech savvy enough for Warner.

jeffrey_dean_morgan_as_the_comedian_and_carla_gugino_as_the_original_silk_spectre_watchmen_movie_image.jpgDiscs Four & Five: The Motion Comic

This was the part I was looking forward to the least. I’d seen previews of the “motion comic” Warner Bros. produced online, and it looked plainly bad: like some pathetic TV-MA flash video iteration of the story.  But I’m pleased to say, I think I judged it kind of prematurely.

Having watched a couple episodes now, I must say, the animation’s pretty cool. It does look like a flash video to an extent, but it lifts images straight out of the graphic novel, and given the stills they had to work with, it’s an impressive product. I just wish Warner had sprung for a second voice actor–Silk Spectre’s voice was certainly less…husky…when I heard her in my mind. No offense to narrator Tom Stechschulte, that is.

In Conclusion…

It’s a cool box set.  I’m very glad I own it, and I think fellow “Watchmen” fanatics will be too.  But this is not for the general public. I just ends up being too much, well, content.

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