WATCHMEN Director's Cut Review -

DVD Review

Mania Grade: B

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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

Mania's Review of the WATCHMEN Director's Cut DVD(2009).
© Warner Bros./Robert Trate


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.
Video Journals
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


Showing items 1 - 8 of 8
theHeadCase 7/23/2009 4:29:44 AM

Digital copy? Yup definitely getting one today.

And please please please please please, will people just check themselves before they call "The Watchemen"? It's just "Watchmen" dammit.

Yes I'm one of those.

Hobbs 7/23/2009 8:17:43 AM

That's the kind of info I was looking for....was the extra 25 mins needed or not and from what you are saying it's not needed.  Which is what I had expected and why I didn't want to pick this version up.  I'll be happy to get the theater version and be done with it. 

I feel bad for you blu-ray fans who can't get the theater version in that format.  Still curious what moron at WB decided that wouldn't be a good idea.  The whole way they are handling the DVD release is about loosing money.  How many of you are going to wait for hte Ultimate edtion they already announced they are going to release in December?

shadowprime 7/23/2009 10:09:49 AM


Echoing Hobbs ... the Blue Ray Directors Cut doesn't include the theatrical version, absent the added footage? HUH? What is the thought process there?


Xchampion 7/23/2009 10:52:07 AM

The only bad thing about me getting it is that I won't get it til next week cause i wasn't willing to spend 25 bucks at wal-mart. I ended up getting it for 15 on I can't wait to get it. It's going to be super awesome.

jedibanner 7/23/2009 11:48:22 AM

This new cut is interesting but agree it doesn't really ad that much into the story since there is still so much missing.

My favorite part of thie comic serie is when Rosrchach is meeting with the pshycologist in prison. That scene is so short and the way they did it is ok but, for me the movie is still missing some key elements of the book.

amjiva 7/23/2009 5:57:53 PM

Director's Cut is far better than the theatrical, even if it doesn't add much to the story. The pacing is much better and we get more character development.

Theatrical cut = B, Director's cut = A-

DaylightMoon 7/26/2009 7:53:13 PM

I definitely enjoyed the Director's Cut more, and I'm glad I bought it, but its true the extra footage really didn't seem to add much to the overall viewing experience. This may be more a testament to how well the theatrical release was edited than anything else. Given the realities of comic to film translations, it's impossible for me to imagine how there could ever realistically be a better film version of Watchmen.

manjisan 7/31/2009 2:44:20 PM

What gives? the damn bluray says director's and theatrical cut. Am I going insane and blind simultaneously!?



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