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- DVD: Watchmen (Director's Cut)
- Rating: R
- Starring: Malin Akerman, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson
- Written By: Alan Moore (comic), David Hayter
- Directed By: Zack Snyder
- Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2009
- Extras: See Below
- Series: Watchmen, Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter
WATCHMEN Director's Cut Review
Ton of extras and a long Watchmen even longer.
By Tim Janson
July 23, 2009
During one of the DVD extras, Watchmen is referred to as the “unfilmable film” which is an accurate description. This is a film that defies adaptation to the big screen because of its many layers and complexities. Even a three hour plus Director’s cut isn’t enough to do this landmark comic book series and graphic novel justice. So give Director Zack Snyder credit, he did the job about as well as you could have hoped. Often times we hear complaints about comic book based films that the filmmakers deviated too much from the source material. If anything, Snyder stuck too closely to the source material as his film has the same weaknesses as the comics did. It’s strong at its ends but a bit slow and ponderous in the middle as we go through multitudes of flashbacks that have their own flashbacks and flash forwards. You can see where its easy to get lost if you didn’t read the series first.
Watchmen is a dazzling film to watch and its one you need to watch several times to pickup all of the pop culture references that you might overlook upon the initial viewing. It successfully incorporates its unconventional color palette from the comics to create a unique visual bounty. The film comes alive particularly when Rorschach is onscreen. Jackie Earle Haley gives a performance every bit as good, and even more intense, than the much more publicized performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker in the latest Batman film.
The biggest problem with The Watchmen is that when the comics came out in the mid-1980s we were still in the Cold War with the U.S.S.R. An entire generation has grown up without having to live under that dark cloud. Watchmen was unique in its pessimistic view of the world but since then, endless films and comic books have borrowed from its wellspring so it doesn’t have the same impact it did when the comics came out.
The Director’s cut of the film adds an additional 25 minutes to run a total of three hours and six minutes. Reportedly, this additional footage makes up about 99% of what was shot. I won’t spoil it too much but we do get a good deal more of Rorschach and the death of one of the supporting characters, which while intense, seemed unnecessary and you can understand why it was cut.
The DVD isn’t exactly packed with extras. Especially disappointing is that there is no audio commentary.
The Phenomenon That Changed Comics (28:40) this featurette looks back to the creation of the comic series with interviews with artist Dave Gibbons, Editor Len Wein, DC Comics Publisher at the time Jeanette Kahn, colorist John Higgins, Director Zack Snyder, and more. You’ll hear how it began as a project to re-invent the old Charlton book heroes but then were changed to unique characters, many based on Charlton characters such as Rorschach (The Question), Nite Owl (Blue Beetle) and Dr. Manhattan (Captain Atom).
This is an excellent feature particularly for those that did not read the comic book series. It provides a greater understanding of who the Watchmen are and how the series was created. Dave Gibbons states that he drew the story as a sci-fi tale and not a superhero tale.
There are a total of eleven video journals, each running between three and four minutes that cover different aspects of the film.
The Minute Men looks at the Golden Age super heroes and the back story they provided
Sets & Sensibility examines the creation of some of the main sets like Oxymandias’s fortress, The Prison, Dr. Manhattan’s lab, and the streets of New York
Dressed for Success is a look at the costume designs of the film, not just with the heroes but the everyday man on the street
The Ship Has Eyes covers the design and construction of Nite Owl’s owlship
Dave Gibbons – The legendary Watchmen artists comments on the film and Zack Snyder’s efforts
Burn Baby Burn – Looks at the prison riot and the stunt where a prisoner is set on fire
Shoot to Thrill – This journal explores the visual look and color palette of the film
Blue Monday – Examines how Billy Crudup was turned into Dr. Manhattan
Attention to Detail – looks at how much detail was put into make a realistic 1980s New York come to life.
Girls Kick Ass – features a close-up of the two Silk Spectres
“Rorschach’s Mask – thefinal journal explores the character of Rorschach and the design of his mask.
My Chemical Romance Desolation Row Music Video
Digital copy of the film