Watchmen(2019) succeeds as both a rumination on social issues and as a worthy sequel to the graphic novel of the same name.
Released: 20 Oct 2019
Runtime: 60 min
Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Cast: Regina King, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison, Sara Vickers
Writer(s): Damon Lindelof
Plot: Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name, while attempting to break new ground of its own.
IMDB rating: 8.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, French 2.0 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 8 Hrs. 47 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Amaray with reinforced cardboard sleeve
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/02/2020
The Production: 4.5/5
The world of Watchmen is an alternate reality in which Richard Nixon was still President of the United States in 1985, just as the world was on the brink of nuclear Armageddon in that year. Masked vigilantes exist in this world, and the otherworldly presence of Dr. Manhattan has helped the United States win the Vietnam War, and that nation has become the 51st state. One of these vigilante “heroes” is Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, a wealthy media magnate with a plan to unite humanity rather than divide it. His plan nearly succeeds, but unravels ultimately due to the investigation of the death of Edward Blake, aka The Comedian, and the efforts by other masked vigilantes, like Rorschach and Silk Spectre, to solve the mystery of Blake’s murder. This premise served as the basis for the celebrated graphic novel created by artist Dave Gibbons and The Writer Declining Credit.
This series begins 34 years after the events of the graphic novel in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Angela Abar(Regina King) is a police detective with an alter ego as Sister Night, a masked hero in a nun’s habit. Police in Tulsa have taken to wearing masks to conceal their identities following the “White Night” in which the Seventh Kavalry, a white supremacist group which has modeled itself after the vigilante Rorschach, wiped out the police department. In this alternate reality, Robert Redford is the President of the United States, descendants of victims of the Tulsa race riots of 1921 are entitled to reparations, and the police cannot use lethal force with firearms unless electronic locks are released remotely after supervisor approval is obtained. After Angela’s mentor Judd Crawford(Don Johnson) is murdered, Angela investigates the crime and discovers much more than she expected, about her former boss, just as she also learns more about her grandfather to which she is introduced.
The series episodes are spread out among 3 discs, 3 episodes per disc, and include all of the following:
It’s Summer And We’re Running Out Of Ice(1:00:42)
Martial Feats Of Comanche Horsemanship(54:53)
She Was Killed by Space Junk(52:29)
If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own(51:39)
Little Fear Of Lightning(59:24)
This Extraordinary Being(1:00:52)
An Almost Religious Awe(57:45)
A God Walks Into Abar(1:02:56)
See How They Fly(1:07:10)
Just as the graphic novel was a mystery story built around the murder of Edward Blake, and his true identity, this new series wraps itself around the investigation into Judd Crawford’s death, and the secrets of his life, all of which is interwoven into revelations about the surviving heroes and villains of the original story. Media reports show the presence on the moon of Dr. Manhattan, and certain other characters from the graphic novel also make their reappearances in this series.
The cast also includes Jean Smart, Jeremy Irons, and Louis Gossett, Jr. Showrunner Damon Lindelof(Lost, The Leftovers) and his writing staff have created a fascinating and engrossing suspense thriller that succeeds in tying up most of its loose ends into a concise ending that still leaves the door open for future stories of the new characters introduced in this series. The connections drawn in the series between Angela’s grandfather and Bass Reeves, the Minutemen, the Tulsa race riots of 1921, and masked heroes in the Old West and in the present day, constitute inspired and sublime combinations of disparate parts into a cohesive whole in this series.
Is the alternate reality of Watchmen a dystopia or a utopia? There may be no obvious answer or consensus among viewers regarding the answer. What is obvious is that the producers of this series have made a worthy successor to the original graphic novel. The Watchmen graphic novel introduced a number of seemingly unrelated threads and tied them up into a nice neat bow as surely as Jonathan Osterman, aka Dr. Manhattan, assembled the intricate pieces of a watch into precision clockwork. Watchmen(2019) has achieved the same miracle, in addition to delving into social issues that continue to be relevant today. This excellent series is arguably the most timely and relevant drama today, even in the year after it aired originally on HBO.
3D Rating: NA
Watchmen appears on blu-ray in a 1.78:1 screen aspect ratio which is faithful to its original broadcast presentation. Colors tend slightly to be pale rather than vibrant as an artistic decision. Fine detail and shadow detail are excellent. The series has substantial visual effects originating with green screen in the digital realm, and are represented flawlessly on disc.
Watchmen is presented by default in an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. The audio mix is fine, if not exceptional. Directional audio is somewhat limited, but dialogue always meets the appropriate minimum to be audible. The original score composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross deserves special mention here. (Both received the Academy Award for best original score in 2010 for The Social Network.) The musical compositions in this series add much to the mood and drama, and the audio mix presents the original score well.
Special Features: 3.5/5
Special features are spread out among all 3 discs, and include all of the following:
Character Profiles: Sister Night, Blonde Man, and Looking Glass(3:06): Actors briefly discuss their respective roles in the series.
It’s Raining Squids(1:58): Producers talk about recreating the inter-dimensional rain of squids on the screen.
Watchmen: Masked and Dangerous(2:20): Featurette discusses the series’ rumination on heroes in general and masked vigilantes in particular.
2019 New York Comic Con(36:49): Producers and cast discuss the series during personal appearances during a panel presentation at the New York Comic Con.
Becoming Sister Night(1:03): Featurette about new character created as protagonist for this series.
Watchmen: Alternate History(2:04): Featurette discussing alternate history leading up to the present time in the series.
Watchmen Unmasked(16:33): Behind the scenes of visualizing this sequel to the graphic novel, with input by producers and cast members.
Andrij Parekh On Directing(1:03): Featurette by director of photography/episode director.
Squid Shelter With Tim Blake Nelson(2:32): Actor playing Looking Glass hosts featurette from the “Squid Shelter.”
Anatomy Of A Fight Scene(2:31): Featurette about filming scene in which Hooded Justice gets physical.
Immortal Vigilante – Hooded Justice Documentary(11:47): Producers discuss their take on creating Hooded Justice for the series.
Adrian Veidt – The Colossal King Documentary(12:36): Ozymandias is highlighted in this look behind the scenes.
Glimpses – The Visual Effects of Watchmen(3:04): Green screen and CGI demonstrating the process of creating the stunning visual effects.
Notes From The Watchmen Graphic Novel Artist Dave Gibbons1:49): Dave Gibbons is highlighted in brief featurette.
Rorschach Featurette(1:40): Featurette highlights the Rorschach followers of the Seventh Kavalry.
Sadiqua Bynum Runs, Jumps and Falls For Sister Night(1:03): Regina King’s stunt double is highlighted in brief featurette.
Also included is a paper insert for digital viewing of the series.
Watchmen (2019) is a fascinating and worthy sequel to the graphic novel. The series manages to touch some of the same themes and issues of the original without blatantly imitating it. A reading of the original story is recommended before watching this series, if one has never read it before, or else the new story may be difficult to follow for casual viewers. (The 2009 film may also serve as an adequate refresher, as it is faithful enough to the source material, other than the “squid”, that anyone who has seen the film should not be totally lost in this series.) The video and audio presentation on disc are fine, and the special features are recommended viewing for anyone captivated by the series. Some of the featurettes are superficial promotional pieces that aired originally as commercials on HBO. Other featurettes are more substantial, and recommended viewing for fleshing out this alternate reality. Watchmen may be the most timely and relevant series to air on television in the last 12 months, and the depth of detail in the intricacies of its storytelling will invite multiple viewings.