http://static.hometh...-watchmen.jpg"> Release Date: July 21, 2009
Watchmen: Director's Cut
Studio: Warner Brothers
Running Time: 3h06m
|1080p high definition 16x9 2.40:1||1080p high definition|
|Audio||DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1; Dolby Digital: French 5.1||N/A|
|Subtitles||English SDH, French, Spanish||English SDH, French (on select bonus material)|
It's 1985 and the United States and Soviet Union are on the brink of nuclear war; the countdown to doomsday has begun. Meanwhile, the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a brutally cynical costumed hero, has been killed, tossed out the window of his high rise apartment like a rag doll. One of his former colleagues, Rorschach (Jackie Earl Haley), still in operation despite legislation banning all masked heroes except those government-sanc
The Feature: 4/5
Long considered unfilmable, director Zack Snyder's adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' celebrated graphic novel "Watchmen" is surprisingly effective, capturing much of the original work's tone and character despite making some fairly significant changes. The removal of the "Black Freighter" metastory and revision of the conspiracy plot, while likely missed by devotees of the source material, ultimately make for a tighter and more accessible narrative, particularly for general viewers. If anything, it's the little things, added up, that can become a problem. For instance, why are the masked heroes so strong, able to throw bodies and punch through brick, when it's stated many times that the only "super" is Dr. Manhattan? Along the same lines, why is the violence so gory? It comes off as gratuitous, especially when there are moments of beautiful cinematic power as when Rorschach puts an end to Big Figure. Finally, Silk Spectre's character arc never seems to get the consideration it deserves, in part due to the limitations of the actor playing her but also the overall attention from the film itself, even in this longer cut. When she finally has her big revelation, we're just not there with her, unable to understand the depth of her anguish because we haven't seen enough of the events leading up to it.
Still, in the big picture, these are nitpicks. Considering the sweeping depth and complexity of the original work, it's amazing what translated so well. As in the graphic novel, Dr. Manhattan's meditative origin story is the film's high point in both story and visuals. The title sequence and Haley's portrayal of Rorschach are also among the film's undeniably great features. While there are obvious compromises in the adaptation, anyone except the most ardent fans of the source material should find themselves both entertained and moved to reflection on the story's darker ideas and themes.
The director's cut of "Watchmen" includes around 24 minutes of additional material not in the theatrical version (which is available as the digital copy on Disc Three). Most of the scenes involve Hollis Mason (the first Night Owl), though there is some additional time spent on Silk Spectre. Frankly, I don't think the scenes add that much. Silk Spectre stood to benefit most from a longer cut, but what's added back just isn't enough to remedy the shortcomings of the character treatment and her portrayal.
Video Quality: 4.5/5The film is correctly framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the VC-1 codec. Black levels are excellent, though there is a varying degree of black crush. Since it changes depending on the type of scene (more pronounced, along with some moderate color desaturation, in scenes set in the '40s) it's safe to say it's intentional. Colors, though obviously stylized, show very good depth and saturation as well. Sharpness and detail are consistently amazing, revealing fine texture in hair, skin and fabrics. The image is also free of edge haloes, signs of grain reduction and blemishes. Overall it's an excellent looking transfer that seems to accurately present the filmmakers' stylistic choices.
Audio Quality: 4.5/5The DTS-HD Master Audio mix exhibits excellent LFE activity, clear and intelligible dialogue (especially with Rorschach's gravelly voice) and effective use of the surrounds for both atmospheric and directional effects. The only thing missing is a constant state of immersion that can be experienced with some of the best mixes. In this case the array perks up at the expected times for action sequences, but seems to become a strictly center channel affair when it's just dialogue. I know some find surround activity during dialogue sequences distracting, but when done properly it really lends the film an added sense of realism. The mix and presentation for "Watchmen" is certainly no slouch, but lacks some of the detail that would truly make it exemplary.
Special Features: 4/5 The special features package offers a variety of video documentaries covering the production, the history of the source material and related subjects. Through BD-Live users can access theatrical trailers and other social media features. While the features hit all the requisite subjects, knowing the "Ultimate Collector's Edition" is five months away there's likely some material producers are holding onto for that release. As a slight consolation, the package does include a $10 off coupon for the upcoming edition.
Disc OneMaximum Movie Mode: Exclusive to the Blu-ray release, this amplified variation on the video commentary includes picture-in-pict
Featurettes highlight various aspects of the production.
- The Minute Men (3:33) - Introduction to the first generation of masked vigilantes.
- Sets and Sensibility (3:54) - Set construction and design.
- Dressed for Success (3:03) - Costume design.
- The Ship Has Eyes (4:20) - Design and construction of Nite Owl's ship, Archie.
- Dave Gibbons (3:21) - Illustrator Gibbons' impressions of the production.
- Burn Baby Burn (2:12) - Fire stunt during the prison riot.
- Shoot to Thrill (3:14) - Emulating the graphic novel's color palette and look.
- Blue Monday (2:59) - The wizardry behind Dr. Manhattan.
- Attention to Detail (2:53) - Props and set dressings.
- Girls Kick Ass (3:03) - Carla Gugino and Malin Akerman talk about their characters.
- Rorschach's Mask (3:38) - Developing and portraying the Rorschach character.
BD-Live: At the time of review, the items available included the streaming "Watchmen" theatrical trailer, downloads of various trailers in high definition (which include "The Lord of the Rings" and "Sherlock Holmes"), and a way to access your Facebook account. I tried the Facebook feature but didn't notice anything available to try.
The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics (28:46) - A history of the "Watchmen" graphic novel, how it broke the rules, affected the industry and inspired readers. The documentary includes interviews with former DC Comics editors, illustrator Dave Gibbons, colorist John Higgins, and various other creative professionals. Not surprisingly, reclusive writer Alan Moore is absent, but there's enough anecdotes about the creation to fill in the blanks. For those unfamiliar with the novel's legendary status and its ideas and themes, the piece is a fine introduction and retrospective.
Real Super Heroes: Real Vigilantes (26:17) - An exploration of vigilantism, with particular emphasis on the 1980s, and its embodiment in the super hero mystique and ethos of "Watchmen." Includes interviews with historians, members of the Guardian Angels safety patrol organization, law enforcement professionals, and some actual costumed vigilantes in circulation.
Mechanics: Technologies of A Fantastic World (16:49) - James Kakalios, Professor of Physics at the University of Minnesota, was recruited as a consultant on the film to give the production team a foundational understanding of Dr. Manhattan's abilities and work, among other things. In the featurette he shares some of the information he gave the filmmakers, including why the Dr. is blue, whether Archie could actually fly, and if Rorschach's mask could actually work.
My Chemical Romance "Desolation Row" Music Video (3:15)
Digital Copy: Download a digital file for playback on a computer or portable device. Compatible with Mac and Windows.
The Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5
An impressive adaptation of a deep and complex graphic novel gets excellent technical treatment and a fine set of special features.
Edited by Cameron Yee - 7/15/2009 at 03:43 pm GMT